Hardcore Superstar & Gemini 5, @ The Underworld, Camden, London, UK. 4/2/04

While Gemini 5 receive a rapturous reception, its occasionally necessary to pinch yourself during their set and check this isn’t the main act already. Offering a similar blend of Backyard Babies theme punk’n’roll and broken English banter to the headliners, the Swedish quartet are an enjoyable, if generic, starter. As energetic onstage as its possible to be without ruining hair that deliberately greased and mussed they have an engaging stage presence, backed up by a gloriously mindless collection of debauched tales set to borrowed Babies riffs. ‘Automatic Cool’ ups the IQ score a little by cleverly referencing the lyrics of the heroes to make some kind of unintentionally ironic point about how ripping people off give you ‘automatic cool’, or something, while a punk rock cover of Caffeine’s ‘You Spin Me Right Round’ is a great mosh-along finale. Not exactly original but certainly good for brightening a Wednesday night.

As if to add conclusive proof that they’re putting Jack Daniel in the water over in Scandinavia, or least that Dregans crew are putting sleaze in the charts still, Hardcore Superstar roll out in creepers and tatts attire, ready to rock London. But there’s bad copies and then there are bands that while they may not be doing anything radical, are doing what they do damned well and its not without good reason that Hardcore Superstar are one of the leading lights in the Scandinavian Invasion. Tonight’s set is almost a complete resume of their talents, showcasing material from 2000’s ‘Bad Sneakers and A Pina Colada, through ‘Thankyou For Letting Us Be Ourselves’, right up to the newly released ‘No Regrets’. Early singles ‘Hello/Goodbye’ and ‘Hey Now’ instigate the heaving pit you’d anticipate, while newer tracks also receive a surprisingly warm and familiar reception. While HCSS certainly have songs to be a success its frontman Jocke Berg, acting a rock’n’roll ringmaster centrestage in flailing leathers and sunglasses in doors at night, coz he’s just so fuckin’ cool he just can, who holds the show together. A suave showman he flirts shamelessly with the crowd, grabbing hands and flashing grins, before dedicating a new song to his girlfriend. In a nod to another native influence the boys also chuck in a cover of Hanoi Rock’s classic ‘Don’t You Ever Leave Me’. Before they’ve even departed the stage, the cries of ‘more’ are starting up and get answer with a high-energy, punked-up 3-song strong treat from ‘Bad Sneakers…’. Here’s to hoping we hear a lot ‘more’ from them soon./Alison

Pretty Boy Floyd, The Renegade Playboys and The Plastix @ The Underworld, Camden, London, UK 15/02/04

Pretty much a de rigor opening act at any TB Records endorsed gig now Nottingham’s The Plastix consistently provide a lively wake-up call to kick off an evening. Dealing in a messy Glam-punk stomp, that references a more punky KISS, and singing about the simple teenage politics of it not being fair and playing music loud because we want to, they’re a familiar and not too challenging start to the night, who seem to get people in the mood for further goodtime rock’n’roll to follow. What’s not so consistent is the bands ever changing image, from painted KISS style aliens a couple years back, through classic slap-n-platforms Glam to today’s Manga-themed superhero look, which involves frontman Stu gluing plastic spikes to his head.

The Renegade Playboys are a similarly constantly evolving conundrum, going through numerous line-up changes since Bubblegum Slut last saw them maybe 3 years back they now contain only one original member, but finally seem to have found a formula that works, sounding tighter and more together than ever before. Trailing a uniform of long hair, bandannas and fishnet they look as much a Motley Crue style gang as a band. Musically the look to less heavy icons of their adolescence, reminding a bit of Bon Jovi, and when the keyboards come out for a sensitive ballad, the tail end of cock-rock when AOR started to seep in. Frontman Yorkie is a contagious whirlwind of energy centerstage, falsetto yelling through the likes of ‘Bad Girls’ and ‘Rain Song’, while stage left razor cheek-boned guitar virtuoso and newest addition Sebz is sure to have the girls swooning and the boys rushing to their bedrooms to practice those solos in the hope of having the same effect.

Its with some apprehension I await Pretty Boy Floyd’s arrival onstage. Last time they graced the Underworld they were a coked-up mess, so desperate for action bassist Leslie scrawled ‘Fuck Me’ on his chest, which is of course exactly the kind of state I want my debauched rock’n’roll bands to be in. I just want them to be able to remember how to play their own songs, too. So infamously appalling was that last performance Steve even tried to excuse it tonight, “We were up all the night before, doing coke and screwing girls” he shrugs. Tonight the bands abilities are vastly improved, although certainly not thanks to plenty of rehearsals and early nights, a highlight is when they pull two teenage girls, present the PBF party the night before on stage and proudly announce “Who would have thought Pretty Boy Floyd would still be getting 16 year old girls in 2004?”, before kissing them both and sending them off backstage. Oh no, this is not the bloated, sober and hindsight ridden world of Aerosmith or Motley Crue, PBF are just as dumb and decadent as when they started out in 1980. Consequently they still play weekend anthems ‘48 Hours To Rock’ and ‘Rock’n’Roll (Is Gonna Set The Night On Fire)’ from debut ‘Leather Boys With Electric Toyz’ with some degree of conviction, and think making sexist jibes about dead Grunge stars is hilarious.The hits are padded out with a couple songs lifted from ‘Pornstars’, a pair of new tracks and cover of ‘Toast Of The Town’, although Leslie is still heard to complain “Oh man, tonight’s going so fast, I certainly know *my* heart is racing”. As the end draws nigh Steve decides ‘all the pretty girls’ should get onstage for the final number, before they quit the stage only to return a minute later for an encore of KISS’s ‘Rock’n’Roll All Night’ which pretty anthemically sums up the ethos of the whole genre. Pretty Boy Floyd are the last dumb outpost of cock-rock, not even making an attempt at ‘cool’ they still act like they’re 14 and think they’re the first people to discover narcotics, write naughty words on themselves (yeah, again), make your wife/mum/dog jokes and go no deeper that the bottom of the bottle of JD self-consciously placed on the stage. As they say themselves, who would’ve thought they’d still be screwing our maidens and taking our money in 2004?

Robin Black and the Intergalactic Rockstars & The Sneakers @ The Kings Head, Fulham 16/2/03

Good Robin Black for opting to play a totally free show tonight. A low-key farewell date to conclude their debut British tour with Pretty Boy Floyd its the last that will be seen of them on these shores, save a cover of The Sweet’s ‘Hellrasier’ to be recorded over the next few days in Nottingham, til an April return with The Wildhearts.
Certainly they seem to have made their mark though judging by the impressive turnout for a chilly Sunday night. The explosive edge is somewhat taken off their exit by the proposed pyro show for the night being scraped, by still they promise to go out with a bang, or several, as Robin proclaims they will fuck some of you later tonight.
Before we find out if Mr Black got any hot action though The Sneakers have come to crash and burn and warm us up from the February freeze outside, or at least to half-arsedly flick the switch on the electric fire.
Sounding like the Quireboys or The Black Crowes topped with the bloody stupid Afro of Toploader, as sported by the guitarist stage right, they knock out smooth keyboard-led blues rock. Its pleasant enough fare but so polished for radio it loses the very dirty, bleeding heart rawness this genre derives its whole whisky soaked charm from.
Flanked by hordes of fishnet and glitter clad squealing beauties from as far afield as Sweden, Canada and London and fortified by a domino line of Becks bottles by the drumriser, each of which Robin cracks open with his teeth and downs in turn the Intergalactic Rockstars look every inch the rock’n’roll cliché and they’re on a mission to rock you.
Armed with only a Planet Fame sized ego and a neatly-applied coating of eyeliner they launch an initial attack in the shape of Cheap Trick-esque album opener ‘T.V Trash’ – the first strike in their campaign to ensure they Will be your favourite new band by the end of the evening. Continuing the assault with ‘Suburban Sci-Fi’ ‘Time Travel Tonite’ and some deadly hip-shakin moves they halt battle only long enough to swig some more beer and flirt with the front rows in underhand attempt to sleep with the enemy.
A whole lot more fun to watch than the other kind of Star Wars the Intergalactic Rockstars finish up victorious, the audience captive for closer ‘So Sick Of You’. Mission accomplished they return for an encore of the modest ‘Better Than You’. Combine a charm like that with the collective powers of Amen and the Wildhearts and the next time we see them if could be footing one of the best bills in rock history. All hail. /Alison.

L.A Guns @ JBs, Dudley, UK 24/2/04

Back in his native UK with yet another new motley band in tow and a new album in the works Phil Lewis is greeted with a rapturous welcome in the cock-rock loving Midlands. In return the famously temperamental rocker seems in good humor tonight and treats the sizable turnout to a lengthy and lively set.
Opening with ‘Over The Edge’ from ‘Hollywood Vampires’ the band set the tone for the evening, clad in black leathers and iron crosses for this tour and looking mean and moody they showcase largely the darker side of their repertoire tonight. Early tracks like ‘Electric Gypsy’ and ballad ‘Crystal Eyes’ feature heavily alongside newer ‘Waking the Dead’ material, while punkier tracks like ‘Some Lie 4 Love’ and ‘One More Reason’ punctuate the shadowy mood of the set.
A new addition since last April’s ‘Waking The Dead’ tour is a smattering of cover version, taken from a forthcoming covers album, these include ‘A Whole Lotta Love’ and ‘Search And Destroy’. Even after the torment of a 10 minute long drum solo from original skin-basher returned to the fold, Steve Riley it seems fans can’t get enough of the Guns, or at least Phil assumes either with great egotism, or typically perceptive humor, this is so. “So”, he says at the end of the planned set “this is a the bit where we go off stage and you chant ‘L.A Guns!’. Well I can’t be bothered with that, I’ll stay here, you chant and we might do a few more numbers”. “Ballad of Jayne” someone shouts. “Oh of course”, Phil replies “We don’t get paid unless we do that one”, and accordingly launches into the classic track.
Apparently only improving with age L.A Guns are as compelling an act as ever, returning for no less than 5 encores at the sold-out London show the following night, and even then halted only at the promoters discretion. One of the few old cock-rock groups still to have any relevance today. /Alison.

Brides Of Destruction & Viking Skull – The Electric Ballroom, London, UK 9/6/04

Rammed to the rafters with stetsons, stilettos and big, big hair in the sweltering heat of a rare bit of British sun the Brides Of Destruction have turned the Ballroom into the Whiskey for one night only. Warming up for a crowd of 80s throwbacks about to see Nikki Sixx play possibly the smallest venue he’s seen in years is not an enviable task but ex-Raging Speedhorns Viking Skull rise to it admirably, and riding on the back of the excitable, kinetic anticipation and means people will dance to pretty much anything right now they just pull it off. Not that this is just anything, clad in leather and denim-embellished, with yes, patches the gumby rockers confidently blast out some real classics as they blend Hellacopter’s punk’n’roll with a Sabbath-ish power and high brow lyrical content concerning drugs, booze, cars and chicks.

But of course the night must belong to the Brides. Chants start up even half an hour before they’re due on stage, until finally they swagger onstage to an elaborate intro tape. Scott Coogan first, Tracii Guns looking wiry as ever, Sixx grinning to a roomful of cheers and LeGrand, a vocalist in the unusual position of being overshadowed by the string pluckers to either side of him, apparently compensating for reputation by way of a foot-high mohawk to had to his already overly tall figure and this motley lot launch into a speed-punk rendition of first single ‘Shut The Fuck Up’. Tracii and Nikki are by no means old guys reliving past glories but dervishes tearing across the stage, the Brides are a mean, toned and angry beast. Full of more fury, energy and middle-class rebellion that any of toady’s youthful upstarts, whilst simultaneously showcasing a truly classic song writing sensibility and tightness ill-gotten only by years of life on the road. If the path of excess leads to wisdom this should be the wisest band in the world. As twice dead by heroin Sixx teasingly swings his bass into the crowd and retrieves it just in time there’s a feeling of fun rather than hell-bent self-destruction to his childish equipment trashing and encouragement for people to overthrow the ‘asshole’ security and climb onstage with him. Three encores of Crue and Guns go down rapturously as expected but if anything the Brides may musically be a more focused and consistent project than any drug-addled previous work. They may have settled into married life but only seem to have grown able to channel the destruction of their heyday rather than grown out it, creating a compellingly vicious, trim and massive-sounding live show without a revolving drum riser or rollercoaster in site. Absolutely essential.

Rebel Rebel “Universal Bar And Grill, Los Angeles, CA.” October 22, 2011

I spied the legendary purveyors of the offensive and obscene maneuvering in the dark and prepping all manner of sundry stage prop.The self styled “Ayatollahs Of Rock n’ Rolla” readied gimmicks that Alice Cooper himself would approve of.It was looking to be a night of unencumbered, hedonistic fun all in the name of sonically assaulting debauchery.Kinda like the Grand Guignol performed by mental ward patients or Kiss,Sigue Sigue Sputnik and The Plasmatics gobbled up by a dinosaur, preserved in ice for millions of years, resurrected and then crapped out in the modern age.If Ringling Brothers went insane this would be his circus-tent house band.Opening with the (MK) ultra cool ‘Shanti Devi’ a seismic, middle eastern flavoured precursor to the rattle caged vitriol of Fear’s 1977 classic ‘I Love Living In The City’ Rebel 2 prove why they stand as L.A.’s new Jane’s Addiction gone cyberpunk.As deadly serious as the band may purport to be, comic relief is a very important ingredient in their musical stew of gourmet delight. Homage is paid to shock rock forebears W.A.S.P. during ‘Wild Women’ where Jet Jupiter sullies out, prancing cocksure and proud and proceeds to ignite the wick of a streaming sparkler that is attached to a rather lengthy phallus.The overt danger factor is there -yes, and no doubt one of the reasons they have been banished from practically every dive in existence, but it is also the very reason they succeed. These maverick court jesters deliver the adrenaline in jest.Another one of their ingenious calling cards is implication.For instance, the mock rape and subsequent chainsaw beheading of a pre-teen female (in reality a 3 foot tall barbie doll) as well as the makeshift pumpkin decoration ( by said deathsaw) applied right before your very eyes.Musically they have improved leaps and bounds over the somewhat shoddy, sometimes poorly executed and often indecipherable shrill of their early days.These dudes are fucking LOUD too.By the shows dramatic conclusion my ears had been wrenched into submission.The already grating tinnitus thrown into a further state of turmoil.Admittedly, I was a trifle miffed being outwardly denied my request for ‘Rock In The Face’ but that’s a wanton tale for another time.So, once again culminates yet another gig-cum-near travesty courtesy of the most banned band in southern California, and as the stunned patrons filed out into the cold, damp evening (leaving rampant trash and cluttered debris in their wake) I couldn’t help but hum the deliciously deviant mantra from A Clockwork Orange…” I’m, singing in the rain” (insert violent kick to hobos ribs)…”Just, singing in the rain” (repeat rash behaviour)….on and on and on……verbatim.

By:Toe Knee