The Junction, Plymouth 8.11.19
Friday night in Plymouth, well Mutley (Plain) to be more precise. Tonight it’s late 70s, early 80s punk revisited in The Junction pub. Headlining are The Members.
Sunbury Cross 1979
For me this gig tonight is pure and absolute nostalgia. One of the early Members’ singles ‘Sound of the Suburbs’, was an anthem of my youth – maybe the biggest – maybe the most relevant anthem of all. When it was released in 1979 I’d just moved from Ashford Common, not far from the rubbery smell of the Bendy Toys factory, and the roar of the Staines Road West to Sunbury – the leafy, frustratingly Tube-less, riverside suburb at the start of the M3.
My school mate Nick (NCo) lived round the corner and his sister knew the band, from further out in Camberley. That led to early purchases of the clear vinyl, label-less, cut out TV picture cover version of the ‘Sound of the Suburbs’ single. Bought from the Sunbury Cross ‘Record Scene’: a place we used to hang around and listen to new stuff at.
Coincidentally, The Members’ Jean-Marie (JC) Carroll produced a local band (most of whom were from our school in Hampton) The Dials’ first single which was put out on the shop’s Scene Records label (Scene 1).
Within weeks of the ‘Sound of the Suburbs’ release I remember being crowded around a portable radio at school (in the Lower Tower Room) listening to the charts when the single went in at something like number 26 (I looked, it was 23) – Top of the Pops beckoned and it peaked later in February at number 12. Suburban school mates, and even more urban ones (that I envied), were lapping it up. We were 16. The lyrics were ‘ours’:
“Same old boring Sunday morning; Old man’s out washing the car; Mum’s in the kitchen cooking Sunday dinner; Her best meal, moaning while it lasts.
Johnny’s upstairs in his bedroom sitting in the dark;
Annoying the neighbours with his punk rock electric guitar’.
‘Heathrow jets go crashing over our homes’ – they did. And on the original cut was the sound of a very familiar station announcement “Staines, this is Staines…”, tragically removed from the later cut due to a royalties issue (?). This was a truly great anthem and has remained so for me for 40 years….yes in 2019 in a pub in Plymouth (yes, Mutley Plain to be more precise) when they played it, the grey hairs on the back of my neck still bristled.
Sound of the Suburbs from YouTube: https://youtu.be/NsHGnw1txLY
A few beers in, at, up or on, Mutley Plain first (the locals’ll know which). At the top of the road, is The Hyde Park. Didn’t wander up there this time but worth a look for the fantastic array of old pub signs and general sign memorabilia – jugs, ash trays etc. If I remember right the food looked good if you can find a table.
With gig buddy Dave (DPi) again tonight, who leads us to the Dog and Duck. Swift one. Time for a sharp exit and on to The Fortescue where all the relaxed old punks are, amid a great selection of ales and a sea of band t-shirts. UK Subs is the most popular. I have mine on. Instant friends and knowing nods.
Then it’s back across the road to The Junction for tonight’s entertainment: TV Smith, Vice Squad and then The Members.
The Junction holds 200 I read. 200 is a squeeze and involves packing people in everywhere with or without a view. If it’s full then armed with some discrete essential ear defence I’d recommend getting in the slightly separated part next to the stage and forget the bar – the gents is a distant dream.
Fortunately it is not as rammed full as the other time I came down here, in March this year, to see The Vibrators, 999 and The Lurkers.
Beyond a few classics from his days with The Adverts – ‘Gary Gilmore’s Eyes’ and ‘Bored Teenagers’ – I don’t know the TV Smith material. I have seen him before supporting The Skids in Frome at The Cheese and Grain, in June 2018, totally solo, as he is tonight. Certainly easier to grab some clearer photos at that one. It’s dark in here.
We stood near the bar and being solo this was a quieter and suitably introductory set which was lifted at the end with the aforementioned ‘Bored Teenagers’ and ‘Gary Gilmore’s Eyes’.
Formed in Bristol in 1979, Vice Squad got some momentum going around ’81 and ’82 but they had split up by 1985. A band I would have liked to have seen back then but it was probably more hardcore than the post punk/’new wave’ stuff I was going to see then. Same with The UK Subs for instance but I’ve got to see them both in the end. I’ve seemingly grown back into this genre as part of a positive regression.
Lead singer Beki Bondage (erm …not her real name..it’s Rebecca 😎) restarted the band in 1997. She is now 56 – we have that in common.
I was really surprised just how good their set was. Good sound and more refined than the albums. Still fast and frantic with the occasional drift from late punk and Oi! into metal.
Highlights were, no surprise, ‘Last Rockers’ and ‘Stand Strong, Stand Proud’. We found a spot near their really very extensive, good value, merch stand with a nearby side hatch to see onto the stage. A £12 t-shirt was irresistible.
There are two original members in the Members these days, as it’s been for many years: JC Carroll (Jean-Marie) and Chris Payne. Front man Nicky Tesco left them early on in the 80s and was soon to be spotted in a civil service office by my mate big Gra (GGu).
Back in 79/80 I saw them at Royal Holloway College near Egham. Huge glass windows down the side of the venue were smashed from outside half way through the set to give a bit of an edge to it. Skins? Hells Angels? Who knows? Rumours were rife.
As with most old punk bands these days, tonight was all smiles and relaxed. The trademark reggae/punk mix of The Members with occasional melodic guitar solos. Soho a-go-go, Chelsea Nightclub and the story telling Solitary Confinement stood out. Sound of the Suburbs of course, a bouncing room and everyone’s happy.
“…..Youth Club group used to want to be free; Now they want ANARCHY”. Ok maybe we don’t want anarchy any more but I look forward to hearing it all again in February at the Butlins Alternative Festival in Minehead.