In our next attempt to re-visit our punk rock pasts myself and my brother Terry made another journey down to the Concorde 2 in Brighton, this time to see Bad Manners supported by Foxy's Ruts among others. The 'Foxy' in question is guitarist Paul Fox; the 'Ruts' are his old group. And it's at this point that I have to go back in time rather a long way...
...to schooldays in fact, and the day I raved on at my mate and fellow punk rock fan Mark Wyeth about this amazing band that I'd seen. They were called The Ruts and they were, well, amazing. They had a single out which I was going to try to buy at the weekend; if it's as good as they are it'll be, well, amazing. Or very good at least, great even. You've got to see them Mark, you really have...
20-something years later and a lot's happened since then. I've seen Paul play many many times in various groups and now even own one of his old guitars. Early on in the Price's illustrious career we supported his then-band Choir Militia a few times and he played with us here and there as well as producing one of our singles. And Mark has gone on to wave The Ruts's flag just about everywhere that'll let him (and probably a few places that wouldn't) even though he never did get to see them. Mind you he now plays bass for them which I guess is better.
More about them in a minute. Terry and myself arrived after a somewhat stormy journey, parked down on the seafront near the venue and spent ages watching the sea. It was raining and very windy and I had toothache which wasn't helped by the weather but none of that seemed to matter- the sea always fascinates me and, it turns out, Terry too. Eventually we tore ourselves away from it and made it to the venue in time to catch Max Splodge battering 'Two Little Boys' into submission. Local heroes The Fish Brothers were up next, good fun 'though I must admit we spent most of their set backstage ligging. By the time we went back out the front Kevin the promoter was on stage with some of Bad Manners treating the audience to an unusual version of The Police's 'So Lonely' and a suitably bizarre tribute to The Macc Lads who had been on some of the other dates of the tour. Very strange.
Then it's John Otway with solo renditions of 'Really Free', 'Beware of the flowers...' and an excellent new number 'You're Breaking Up' (mobile phone madness ahoy!) before he too was joined by some of Bad Manners for 'Bunsen Burner', 'Crazy Horses' and 'We Rock', all performed with his customary lunacy. Good stuff.
Then, at last, Paul and his boys- except they've got Bad Manners's drummer 'cos Laurie (Paul's son and their usual drummer) is ill. And Mark's got bass problems- it's miles out of tune which Mark the singer finds hilarious and Mr. Wyeth very definately doesn't... and 'Staring at the Rude boys' sounds slow, and 'Something That I Said' isn't much better, and 'Your just A...' has gone wrong in the middle and me and Terry are getting really worried... thankfully things improve and by 'Give Youth a Chance' it's all hotting up nicely; 'In a Rut' has the obligatory BIG DRUNK BLOKE on stage singing it in all the wrong places, 'Jah Wah' sees the Manners horns joining in and 'Babylon's Burning' nearly starts a riot. The encore's 'Human Punk' which maybe follows the live version a bit too closely but is still a song I never thought I'd ever see performed again. Talking to Paul afterwards he seems to think that this could all have a future- by what I saw and, maybe most importantly, by the audience's reaction to it, he might just be correct.
Bad Manners were always a band that I had a bit of a soft spot for. I was never a big ska fan 'though I really like The Beat (are they ska?) and some of The Specials stuff but I always liked the Bad Manners singles; also it's great that they're still going (did they ever stop?) even though I believe it's been 'Buster-and-some-blokes' for quite a while now. Still they sounded excellent- it'd been a long night and I felt the crowd was flagging a bit (I certainly was!) but they got everyone up and moving. All the songs you'd hope they play were there, though I particularly liked their version of Deep Purple's 'Black Night' (it works, honest!), and the final number 'The Can Can' saw much madness (if you pardon the expression). A fine evening 'though I'm a little concerned that Terry's trying to persuade me to go with him to see The Cockney Rejects there in February.
I think I may be away on tour then.