Monthly Archives: December 2013

The Sex Pistols at Christmas

Never Mind the Baubles


The Julian Temple documentary on the Sex Pistols’ Christmas gig was such a joy.


The footage of the band performing was incredible. I am assuming it was just one camera, and the room wasn’t exactly set up with fancy lights to help out. Yet it conveyed how great the band were, full on, strong songs, and so much personality.


What really came across in the documentary was the humanity. Simple as that. And as silly as it may sound, I found that a very inspiring Christmas message.


Here was one band, hated by many in Britain, banned from even entering Scotland by all accounts, and sadly despite the headline in the Limerick Leader newspaper, a band that never came to Ireland in their original incarnation. It is interesting to think how many musicians were inspired to join a band following the electric shock that the band transmitted.


Here were found pretty ordinary guys, albeit ones with various neuroses and flaws just as you would expect in any young band. It is amazing to think how short their career was, how bumpy the ride, how unlikely they would produce such great music…and yet they did.


Here was that band of ‘public enemies’ according to politicians and self-appointed moral guardians, playing two benefit gigs for striking firemen and their families in Huddersfield.


John Lydon aka Johnny Rotten came across the best, naturally. He had charisma and a very sharp mind that wasn’t always highlighted in the tumultuous times the band lived in. The scenes of him dancing with the kids at the afternoon gig, playing cake-fights with them, getting them involved in sing-a-longs were great to see. I came away from watching with a better appreciation of Steve Jones from his interviews here. What a sad young man he was at the time of the Sex Pistols. I admire his honesty at how he was able to look back on his youthful self. It was sad to hear how much he disliked Christmas as he felt so sad and lonely at those times. It makes you think how people we assume are having fun, may be just the opposite.


Another great element of the documentary was the footage of the young people who attended the gigs. The cheery chap whose friend got him into the gig because his dad was a firefighter was great to watch. It was funny at the end when it was revealed how this punk-loving youth who remembered the day with such joy, is now a policeman.


The other great interview was with two lads who had walked to Huddersfield on Christmas Day for the gig all those years ago. It was 9 miles away. Yet they wanted to make the journey to see the Pistols. And when they got there…the gig was sold out. All was not lost and Malcolm McLaren, the eccentric who put the band together in the first place, insisted the band would not play unless the punks on their pilgrimage were admitted.


And that is what you call a Happy Christmas.


God Bless the Punks.


And my wish for the new year is a stronger more caring society. We can do it.





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Wild Hearted Outsider

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New Years Revolution Once more

So this was my farewell to 2012 but I have updated it and the sentiment remains true.

Be the change you want, support the shops you don’t want to see close, say hi to people and work in and for your community (whether that be work, music, home, group of people)

1) Keep listening to uplifting music. It may only need three chords, sometimes a lot less but music has the power to do so much more than entertain. Entertainment is good, it’s a start. We can use our music to spread knowledge and inspiration.

2) Support local business. Whether you are anarchist, capitalist or a pain in the ist you use money at some stage. This can pay rent, keep you warm or whatever but it is a chain we are cogs in. You can be a good cog and try and grease that chain.

Anytime you think of something that you feel would be a shame if it ceased then support it. In Dublin it was local shops. Let’s support those worth supporting.

3) All talk is cheap, talk Politics! Don’t be afraid to voice a reasoned opinion. let’s get dialogue going again. How can we get out of this mess? How can we assist each other through this (see point 2). Let’s have debates, let’s have fun, let’s be optimistic and let’s DO!

4) Don’t rely on elected individuals. Whilst I have no doubt that most people believe they can change the world, those that feel elections are the only avenue are misleading the rest. We can work within our communities to affect change. Sure, politicians can enforce decisions that effect us all but lets start local and in the meantime try and get those who might assist the people to be the ones in power.

5) Communities are the key. That could be punk rock community, residents community or work community we can work together to make our surroundings better. Help your trade union, help your local charity, help your neighbour. BE!

6) This one I have given a lot of thought to, let’s help our neighbours out. Invite them in for that cup of tea, car pool, food pool, work together. A group of parents hang out? why not swop babysitting sessions. Gonna go out for a meal? why not dine in and invite your friends. Organise some pot lucks (preferably vegan). Let’s work together and be in it for EACH other.

7) Henry sang it, I’ve said it but the words ring true Don’t talk about it, DO IT
With that in mind my pledge for this year. Remember it is not about what we are against anymore, it is about what we are FOR


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Clandestino – In Search of Manu Chao


“You cannot change the world but everyone can change their neighburhood”

In Search of Manu Chao
Peter Culshaw
Serpents Tail publishers

I’ve always been stubborn. It’s a trait I recognise when talking to my stubborn Father. For Example I used to really like the Cardiacs, I went to see them twice and their anarchic take on live show with songs going in different directions was a great challenge to me being brought up on three chord punk rock. And then someone told me they sounded a bit like Genesis, or was it Pink Floyd? I dunno, I had spent too much time avoiding Genesis and Pink Floyd to find out, so I kind of gave up on the Cardiacs. Harsh but true. I was the same way with bands on major record labels. If they had the machinations of the music industry behind them they didn’t need my support. So I never listened to them. Of course this was after many of the bands that had introduced me to music in the first place. Bands like the Clash, Damned and the Pistols. But the second wave for me was all about bands bringing out their own records. So Mano Negra came along and went. Sure weren’t they with Virgin Records?

I spent the first 100 pages of this book confusing Manu Caho with someone from Negu Gorriak. You see I was involved in helping Negu Gorriak from Euskadi get a gig over here with Anhrefn in the early 90’s. Mano Negra were from Paris but spent a lot of time championing causes like the Basque Seperatist movement and in the midst of time they had morphed for me. And then the penny dropped. This is not the singer from Negu Gorriak!! It certainly didn’t spoil my enjoyment and this book was been a real learning experience for me.

Whether learning about Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Argentina or Mexico where Mano Negra played and Manu Chau is a huge star or a reminder of the recent history of France and Spain. When Manu started playing Spain was escaping the tyranny of Fascism. For much of the 80’s there was messiness and freedom as fascists fell, rose in popularity and fell again. That trend is now emerging once more as people blame fellow humans for their plight. When you read that the name Mano Negra comes from Andalucian anarchists in the 1880’s and also Hispanic New Mexicans fighting for land and water rights in the 1960’s and 70’s and signifies as the Black Hand, you get a preview into Manu Chaos activism.

This is what he is, an advocate for dispossessed peple, a believer in Human Rights but beneath it all he is human and like us all has flaws and contradictions. Thankfully these are included in here although it kind of reads as a footnote. By the way he enjoys Coca-Cola when he has a hangover. he may have looked at porn on his phone. My guess is the author, Peter Culshaw, felt an imperative for us to see Manu as containing some flaws. most of the 350 pages are tales of how Manu, through his music, tries to be inclusive and no doubt there will be the backlash as humans being humans we will search for flaws. In much the same was as when some people hear about vegetarians they automatically think about the clothes they are wearing and take some joy if they find out there was cruelty involved in their production people will be looking for the contradictions in Manu’s lifestyle.

When Mano Negra (Manu’s third band to record) were looking to relaeas a record there was Strong internal discussion on whether they sign to a major, “the angel of justice versus the devil of money”. There was a realisation of the contradiction of being an advocate of anti-globalisation whilst also being signed to a subsidiary of EMI. However the choice was made to further the message as they saw it.

We read of the journeys of that band like the train journey through Colombia when Mano Negra re-activated disused train tracks and brought their own customised train around the country. Much like a traveling circus, they wanted to play to the people. THe train of Ice and fire it was called. This was a journey of free gigs an free spirits travelling through. Think about it, there are villages in Colombia that don’t experience tourism. It was (and still is) a dangerous country at war. Like our own history in Ireland there were Families battling it out against each other, sometimes fatefully and then a motley crew arrive into town after much negotiation with some army or another to allow them into the village. And their mode of transport is the train tracks that have been disused for years!

This is more than a biography, the book higlights the struggle in dakhla, algeria where up to 200,000 sahrawi people live in refugee camps and have done so for more than 30 years right.

There are many references to Mexico and the Zapatistas, with royalties given to the cause. The revolution and struggle in Chiapas is dear to Manu’s heart as he talks about the politics of the neighbourhood, “you cannot change the world but everyone can change their neighburhood”. We read of when Manu went to Rio to live among the poor despite the danger of the favelas.

It was also the tale of the death of the band who couldn’t sustain this idealism whilst trying to pay bills at home, Mano Negra finished in Paris playing to over 50,000 people but the band couldn’t sustain the liflestyle.

There’s more to Manu Chao then Mano Negra and we hear of his solo shows his constant travelling, his eccentricities. I am struck however by his respect for Joe Strummer. How many rock and roll tales start with a clash song or a gig?
“When I began to write songs, The Clash were my model”. In a similar way to Irish Journalist Michael McCaughen who has written about Latin America as well as Ireland and indeed travelled to Nicaragua on foot of The Clash’s Sandinista Manu writes songs as therapy, to address the rage he feels about this world.

A greaty story.


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Hope Show 49 – The Year in Sounds 2013

Hope Show 49 – The Lowdown

1. Fawnspots – Santa Won’t Get Away With it This year
2. Hooligan – Punk Rock Christmas
3, Hard SKin – Sausage Man
4. King Champion Sounds – free-dum Trail
5. New Model Army – Lean Back and Fall
6. Flies On You – Josephine
7. No Age – Generator
8. Superchunk – Me and You and Jackie Mittoo
9. Glimmermen – This Town
10. Joe Solo – No Pasaran
11. Rvivr – Wrong Way/One Way
12. Off WIth Their Heads – Altar Boys
13. Steve Ignorant with Paranoid Visions – Join THe dots
14. The Flatliners – Birds Of England
15. Goldblade – We’re All In It Together
16. Roughneck Riot – Ignorance Is Easy
17. Bl’ast – Sometimes
18. Southport – The Last Time

Open Your Mind
Question Everything

Everyone else is doing it so why don’t we. I have been avoiding the idea of doing a Christmas show with punk rock or off kilter versions of Christmas songs but then realised I cam across a lot of good music this year. SO why shouldn’t I share it. It deserves to be heard. So here goes 2013 in sounds

Fawnspots were a discovery to me, I got their 7″ on Louder than War and finally sent away for their split lp with Cum Stain last month. I got this song off their website as I have played SPanish Glass to bits this year. And sure it is Christmas (joust about).

Seeing as it is Christmas (just about) I’m gonna play one more festive song and it’s Hooligans Punk Rock Christmas. It is Dublin punkers, Hooligan, second release of the year and it continues in the sing along punk vein of their earlier release.

Hard Skin played an eventful gig in Dublin over the Summer. I also interviewed Fat Bob for the show. They have tried to drain as much money out of people as possible by releasing two version of the same lp, on with them singing and then other with guest singers, all women. Punk rock eh?

I’m excited about King Champion Sounds , you may not know them but you should. The service that the members of the band have already given to the Dutch indpependent music scene is beyond compare. The tunes that have passed through those hands are worthy of respect alone. If I was to say De Kift, The Ex, Donkey and you are still unmoved then you will need to move to the next song.

Which is New Model Army. I saw them play live twice this year and interviewed them for the show but it didn’t record so I ended up doing a special on the band. They were amazing, they are still amazing and I’ve no doubt they will continue in that vein.

I’m typing the footnotes out for my show proudly wearing my flies on you tshirt. THey have been an intersting group this year. SOme re-mixes, some oddities and a good album and ep along the way.

I interviewed No Age for the show a while back and that will be online soon. They brught out a new record this year, An Object and I have it as one of their best. great noise.

Superchunk are not quite of New Model Army’s generation but they are not far behind. I saw them in toronto in 1996 and this record is up there. I hate Music is its title but nothing can be further form the truth when Me and You and Jackie Mittoo is on.

Dublin has been good this year for music. Being a father of 3 and 45 years old means I don’t get out as much as when the bass was flung around my shoulder. Glimmermen are of my vintage and brought out an excellent album this year, even did a video to accompany it. This is my Dublin

I love Joe Solo , the respect I have for this man is immense. He was part of Lithium Joe who toured Ireland back in the mid-90’s pitching their power pop to anyone who would listen. The singer went Solo and has been bringing out great records ever since. They are not just records, they are art. They are a part of his life and he is sharing the pain and hope we all feel. The futility of war is never far away in his songs but there’s always hope in there somewhere that we will learn along the way.

I’ve been meaning to check out Rvivr for a few years and with a new album our on Rumbletown i got a chance. The line You’re going the wrong way down a one way street can symbolise many events in my life this year. It just seems so apt, and in a singalong fashion.

Off With Their Heads have been favourites in the Hope house since their first album in 2008. Thankfully Home continues in their fine punk rock sing aliong style.

What can I say about the Steve Ignorant and Paranoid Visions album. One of the best Visions records for sure. Lyrics are spot on relfelctions of todays society and Steve and Deko’s anger complements each other ably supported by Aoife and Sarh. Guitar licks, singlaong choruses – a great punk rock record

Flatliners are another one of those screaming sing along bands that I feel I’m finding more and more prevalent in my listening choice. Songs that mean something and get you moving, a great partnership.

Goldblade have all that and more, slightly more rocky but what a great show they put on. I interviewed John Robb about this record and a lot more earlier in the year. Great news from Christmas is that Goldblade are coming over in February. It’s not an annuaal trip but one well sorth you making the effort for.

I’m cheating with the Roughneck Riot. This album came out last year but I only heard it in August, and hey it’s my show.

Bl’ast’s record came out years ago but was rereleased this year. Again, my rules.

One of my own highlights this year was over in Blackpool for Rebellion festival. There was loads of great bands over the 4 days but me jogging around Blackpool during the day before punk rock proceedings started off was my highlight. That and the fact that I was listening to the Southport album. Album of they year, just about….

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