Skids, Cockney Rejects, Rezillos, UK Subs and more 23.4.2022 at O2 Academy Glasgow
A trip to see The Skids in Scotland with some extras. The one-day punk-fest that is Scotland Calling has a hint of Scotland about it – maybe some of the bands on earlier are Scottish but otherwise it’s left to The Skids and The Rezillos to fly the flag.
Our punk last of the summer wine trio (me, Dave and Big Gra) amble across the suspension bridge over to the south of the Clyde and head on south down Gorbals Street passed…. well, nothing. It’s a wasteland of derelict and near derelict buildings, rubbish and a few gangs of kids hanging about. At least it’s sunny…and not dark! This can’t be right. We are heading for the O2 Academy Glasgow, which isn’t the O2 in Glasgow I’d seen on a previous trip – the O2 ABC Glasgow, on the much more inviting and central Sauchiehall Street. A group of aging punks head passed us back into the city centre giving reassuring advice that we can’t miss it and it isn’t far. Oh well at least we must look the part even to these ‘hard cores’.
After we locate the huge old cinema, we also head back into town as there really is nothing here except a closed pub just over the road, The Laurieston. I’ve seen the posters and I can’t believe all these bands play here. Do people come in armoured cars or with police escorts? It turns out later to just be safety in numbers and the walk back across to the City Centre isn’t far (I wouldn’t fancy the suspension bridge late at night.)
We return back across the river a few hours later. The all-day gig starts at noon but thoughts of £6 lager make the previously absolutely dismissive looking Laurieston pub suddenly hold some appeal. I brace myself and dive in… the bar appears to be largely full of Cockney Rejects fans and we opt for the spacious lounge. It’s a classic retro 60s feel, remembering that in the 60s in this area a southern stranger would have been terrified. Lager, strong lager and even stronger lager: they have the lot. I have a Guinness brought through from the bar.. cash only. It is a historic friendly oasis in a desert.
We stay in here and let most of the early bands that we haven’t heard of pass and head over to the O2 Academy in time to watch Gimp Fist. We hadn’t heard of them but the name alone deserved a look.
A three-piece easy listen punk band that started us off well.
We had pitched up at the front of the balcony to start with in unreserved seating. Standing room downstairs with various tiers and stairways giving a good variety of vantage points – I had a wander around and checked out the numerous merch stands, smaller bands upstairs. The upstairs area has some seating and tv screens show the stage. There’s a bar up there as well as the ones on the ground floor. (Actually there are some special offers so you can get a pint for £3.50.)
The capacity with downstairs standing is 2550 making it 200 more than O2 Kentish Town and I’m yet to go to a bigger O2 Academy. Today not many in the balcony but for what could be an 11 hour stint it makes a good hideaway with a great view. There are little standing side balconies. Each holds up to ten people and give a great vantage point over the downstairs and the deep stage.
The Anti-Nowhere League are first of the better known bands with their fast and rasping more rocky punk anthems, including their Streets of London cover and single So What. Yup, enjoyed that and on to the UK Subs, still upstairs wandering.
Charlie Harper is 78 this year and he’s still at it. Amazing. It’s been hard to keep pace with their material over the years but the set has enough well-known ones to keep us happy, including Stranglehold, Party In Paris, Emotional Blackmail and Warhead (which we ended up singing later that night on the walk back to reality).
It’s 6pm by now: a bit of a lull in the drinking. The advertised food arrived in the form of white baps with ham or cheese. These ran out just as Steve Ignorant (Crass) was about to start. Feeding of the 5000 was their big album but the feeding of the, what, 1750 was now the need. Well, I’d eaten my two baps and perched in the front row of the balcony, unfamiliar with all but Crass’s album covers, I managed to nod off mid-set. This must be a first. It’s been a been a tiring week….but in a set of Crass songs? They’re not exactly lullabies.
Time to liven up with The Rezillos and I go downstairs to see them. I never saw them back in the day but after they supported The Stranglers in 2015, I saw them several times. Always lively, a bit crazy and some good sax. I like that 50s sci-fi and cartoon imagery stuff – Flying Saucer Attack, Destination Venus – they revel in. I’m wearing my luminous Rezillos t-shirt today but the lighting isn’t exploiting its full ‘glow in the dark luminous capability’ fully.
Plenty of room at the front for this early evening session. It’s loud and the sound a bit chaotic for this band. The sax is ripping and my ear protectors are in – I’m using two varieties at the moment, both very good – sound still good but tempered. The thing is not leaving it until the sound screws your hearing up before putting them in, tempting though it is.
Top of the Pops is unmissable of course as their hit single. The 50-minute set maybe a bit rushed with no time to chat but I’m still up for seeing them again. I retreat upstairs as the travelling Cockney Rejects fans move down the front from the bars, or maybe they’ve been back over the road at the pub.
The Cockney Rejects are listed like a joint headliner in the ads for today and they’ve certainly brought a lot of fans in. It is an onslaught – Oi Oi Oi – what a handful. I’ve got a couple of singles by them, almost inevitably as a West Ham fan, and live they are quite mesmerising. You can’t take your eyes off them in case something happens. Jeff, no longer known as Stinky, Turner (aka Geggus) spends to whole set in his Lonsdale gear shadowboxing his way through the songs. Full on. Brother Mick Geggus maintains some stability on bass.
Coming up to Glasgow and playing We are the Firm and their version of I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles must, over the years, have led to its moments but it’s all good spirits these days…. whether that’s always the case I don’t know. (I capture one on my Bubbles YouTube clip).
Amid the mayhem Jeff thanks everyone for their support and announces that 2023 will be the last Cockney Rejects tour.
Last on, after a long week of gigs for me, and a long day, are The Skids. This was the main attraction for us and we are all downstairs in the space vacated by the travelling Rejects fans.
The Skids continue their fusion with Big Country band members and after Bill Simpson’s departure as bassist it’s only Richard Jobson who is an original Skid. Father and son Watsons, Bruce and Jamie, are long-time recreators of the ‘Adamson guitar sound’ for both bands.
As headliners tonight The Skids still only get 55 minutes so while the set is packed with the usual favourites – Into the Valley; Animation; Circus Games; Charade; The Saints are Coming; Charles – not so much time for Jobson chat and he usually gives some contexts to most songs.
Jobson’s still dancing – I wonder how much longer the Skids have got on the road. They’ve been very active, pandemic aside, since their regrouping in 2016 and the 2018 worthwhile new album Burning Cities. I’ve seen them a fair few times since with the best being the Islington O2 last year, although the pilgrimage to their hometown Dunfermline was a great-all round experience.
There’s a cover to finish – it’s a corker – The Clash’s Complete Control, which appears on their 2021 covers album, Songs from a Haunted Ballroom.
It’s been a busy gigging Easter and a long day to finish. Hugely enjoyable and as we are freed to flow out and walk back along Gorbals Street and across the Clyde to the city centre, I appreciate seeing this sort of line up give this sort of energy isn’t something that can last forever – but in Scotland for tonight at least, “punk’s not dead!”