The Continental, Preston, England
1st July 2016
The Continental lies deep in the suburbs of Preston, it initially seems an odd choice of venue, we have arrived early and it is full of early evening diners still enjoying a meal and a few drinks to kick their weekend off, the friendly bar staff direct us to what they call “the events space”, at the side of the pub lies a small intimate venue that’s attached to the restaurant and bar. As time passes the local families and those enjoying a post work pint are slowly replaced with an increasingly numerous crowd of punks.
There’s a healthy crowd in place for the openers, The Mardigras Bombers, they are a quartet from Lancashire who have returned from a four year hiatus, on the basis of tonight’s set I’m glad they decided to return from the wilderness. If you missed them the first time round then you should take this opportunity to acquaint yourself with the Mardigras Bombers, they bring their own brand of Lancastrian punk ‘n roll to The Continental, the vocals are delivered with a rasping snarl and a solid and heavy back line provides a brutal accompaniment, visually they remind me what you’d get if some of the cast of Goodfellas decided to form a band. They are currently writing new material, and whilst they are temporarily shorn of their backing singer they assured me that they have a replacement waiting in the wings. This was a welcome return from a band who never got the credit they deserved first time round.
The Members take the stage and announce that this is their debut appearance in Preston, they took their time getting here but it was worth the wait. They open with the dub heavy instrumental Electricity before launching into fan favourites Soho A Go Go and Offshore Banking Business. The bass in their set is teeth rattling and it’s worth remembering that The Members, along with the likes of The Ruts, were one of the bands that pioneered the infusion of dub and reggae into punk rock. New English Blues encourages the somewhat restrained crowd into engaging and Chelsea Nightclub ups the ante and starts to get a few bodies moving, Working Girl is well received and the combination of alcohol and the familiar songs is becoming a winning combination. When they launch into Solitary Confinement, their 1979 debut single for Stiff Records, the crowd are clearly enjoying themselves immensely. The Members are also clearly enjoying being back in the spotlight, their original material remains as relevant as it was when it was first written and the new songs blend seamlessly with their back catalogue, One Law, the title track from their new album, is another dub heavy number and it returns to the themes of inequality and social division. The penultimate song is a cover of, former Stiff Records label mate, Larry Wallis‘s Police Car before they inevitably end the set with their anthem, The Sound Of The Suburbs. This brings the suburban venue to life and we see the first frantic pogoing of the night from a small, enthusiastic and inebriated section of the crowd. As with all their material tonight, this song sounds as good as the day it was recorded and it remains a rabble rousing rallying cry against mainstream culture, I can honestly say that I’ve never heard The Members play better than they have tonight.
TV Smith headlines tonight, he is a lone sinewy figure on the stage defiantly clutching an acoustic guitar, he announces “I last played here when you thought things couldn’t get any worse” and he launches into Only One Flavour . As he stamps round the stage providing his own percussive beat it becomes clear, especially in this fortieth anniversary of punk, that TV Smith embodies the punk spirit more than any of the other artists from that era. His fury at injustice and inequality has not diminished over the years and the fire still burns strongly in him. He has just turned 60, is currently playing around a 130 gigs a year and he still emits all the energy and rebelliousness that his original band, The Adverts, displayed. The set continues with Clone Town before we get the first of The Adverts numbers of the night, No Time To Be Twenty One, he delivers this vintage punk classic with an energy that belies his years. The set builds up to a climax with songs from solo career, including two of my favourite songs, One Day My String Will Snap and The Good Times Are Back, before launching into a trio of singles by The Adverts, Gary Gilmore’s Eyes, Bored Teenagers and, their debut single from 1977, One Chord Wonders. Tonight he has delivered a triumphant career spanning set that covers his forty year career, from The Adverts first single through to 2014’s I Delete and the two new songs he played tonight segued seamlessly in with his established material. He epitomises the DIY spirit of punk and the four decade spanning set is near prefect. If you want to hear the original spirit of punk then go and see TV Smith when he comes to your town, with his relentless tour schedule you shouldn’t have to wait too long
The Mardigras Bombers debut album can be purchased here
The Members website, where you can purchase their new album and back catalogue, is here
TV Smith‘s website, where you can purchase his solo and The Adverts albums as well his Punk Rock Tour Diaries, is here
Photography is by Emma Farrer, Emma has been photographing bands for almost twenty years and you can visit her website here
You can visit Emma Farrer‘s Flickr page, where you can view her work, and see all the photographs from this concert, here