Much-loved venue The Kazimier played host to a night of anarchy, anti-establishment rhetoric and punk spirit, delivered by new promotion company Broken Bow. Headed by Samuel Garlick and Chris Taylor, the Liverpool based music aficionados are bringing back iconic punk bands to the city with Sham 69 the taster to what looks set to be a much needed alternative dimension to the cities music scene. Support was a stellar local line-up of The Vermin Suicides and Pete Bentham and the Dinner Ladies – two well respected and established bands in their field. With expectations of downright debauchery and mischief, the night did not disappoint as I was engulfed in a collision course of nostalgic punk alongside contemporary acts on the scene, amalgamating into a clear statement of intent; punk is without doubt not dead.
The Vermin Suicides kicked off the night with their ‘multi-genred anti-pop punk’ as they mixed punk, rock, ska and a dabbling in dub that highlighted the pushing of boundaries around a classic punk sound. Gearing the audience into a jumping frenzy, The Vermin Suicides set the ball rolling for a night of shouting, moshing and sticking it to the powers that be.
Pete Bentham and The Dinner Ladies added a playful rascality to the proceedings with their catchy and hilarious scouse-natured skits that were fun and full of ridicule. There were Liverpool jokes aplenty such as Queen Victoria’s Knob a tribute to the statue of Queen Victoria at Derby Square that – when seen side-on – displays the royal figure with male genitalia. Hip Potato was a crowd pleaser and had the audience lowering to the ground and participating in a placard raising fashion. Two Dinner Lady dancers strutting around behind the band, added entertainment and a much-enjoyed drama-performance aspect to the groups songs. The jazz-infused punk, complete with saxophone showed that punk isn’t all doom but can be used as a platform for play and merriment.
Finally, the much anticipated old punk vanguard Sham 69 took to the stage. One of the top punk bands of the late 70s, Sham 69 – led by the charismatic and irrepressible Jimmy Pursey – were the anti-elitist, working class, skinheads that drove punk to a grassroots level. With plenty of catchy, short and populist punk tunes to choose from a massive repertoire the growing audience – a mixture of young and old – were absorbed into a nostalgia driven set that took many back to their youth and gave the rest of us a sight of what the 70’s short-lived punk period was all about. Highlights were the no-nonsense Tell us the Truth and If The Kids Are United, both met with glee as Pursey bantered with the audience and talked of his Milwall football leanings.
A dynamic live act, the aggression and violence associated with the band back in the 70’s is easily understood as Pursey spits every word with venom. However, the night was celebratory; a looking back and the communality and camaraderie amongst the audience was demonstrated in our jovial chants of ‘We’re going to the pub’ for the classic Hurry Up Harry. Sham 69 played songs from their new record which were of course in the same vein – anti-religion, anti-Tory and spat out with a tongue-in-cheek wit.
Despite this, I did find that Sham 69 were perhaps living in their past glory, I enjoyed the performance as an insight into the old way – but found that sort of punk perhaps has had its day. Although, the future of the punk scene is bright with the newer and innovative sounds of the Vermin Suicides and Pete Bentham and the Dinner Ladies.
Another interesting aspect of the gig was not only the multi-layered sounds but that all the bands were multi-generational – a pleasant surprise and an uplifting sight of the ‘original’ punks going further than mere inspiration but also joining forces with a younger generation of rockers. As we are faced with endless cuts, poverty and a ‘generation forgotten’ the night certainly showed that punk was a force for the people and it can continue to be, as the crowd reflected an anti-establishment spirit rooted in the 70’s and still influential today.