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Rebellion 2015 day 3 – the wildhearted outsider

Rebellion Day 3

The Boomtown Rats were Eire’s best ever popular music band…Eire’s Best Pop Band. That’s a bigger compliment that it might appear at first.

Few areas of human endeavour are more competitive than pop music. So mane people want a hit single or to be a pop star: so few get there.

Since it is so competitive you have to be single-minded to get there. And Bob Geldof embodies single-mindedness,

The Boomtown Rats were pop in the way that other brilliant tunesmiths of the punk/new wave era were: XTC, Squeeze and even Elvis Costello.

But the Rats were from Eire and Eire didn’t have pop bands…especially not pop bands with international appeal. That makes them really significant in Ireland’s culture. They broke with the past and the consensus: that makes them revolutionaries.

They were cranked up on Dr Feelgood and dug deeper back into the Blues of John Lee Hooker…and both are clearly heard in their set in a Blaclpool ballroom full of 40 years of punk survivors.

They also drew from Thin Lizzy’s pop smarts…Van Morrison and Springsteen’s late 20th Century troubadour style…the best of glam rock’s stomping beat in a ballroom blitz. And the swagger of Jagger.

Beyond Ireland that May not have seen remarkable…yet in Ireland it was transgressive and daring. Naturally being single-minded might lose you admirers as it wins you fans…and that is for another time.

The band were tight and punchy and went down surprisingly well for a band that don’t fit comfortably into punk history.

She’s So Modern launched a set preceded by Hugh Cornwall, half of whose really great set was comprised of Stranglers’ songs. The Rats then charged through hits including: Like Clockwork, Someone’s Looking At You, I Don’t Like Mondays (which featured a raucous singalong by the massed choir assorted generations of punks and skins and crusties! It also featured a literally heart-stopping moment in pop music terms: the band standing still and silent poised to continue, teasing the crowd..in control if the crowd…but only by the slightest thread!). Mary of the Fourth Form was also included before the set concluded with Looking After Number One and Rat Trap.

Can any other Irish pop band pull as many original songs out of their back catalogue and deliver them with conviction and intensity?

Being Bob and the Rats this was a show….the final burst was a pre-recorded chant of The Boomtown Rats over a pulsing dance-beat…very AC/DC meets X-Factor…perhaps ironic!

If the band got cheers they also got the loudest boos of the festival: Geldof yelled mid-set: we are the Boomtown Rats…we are Mega!…you (the audience) are dressed an in black uniform of t-shirts with shit bands written on them….I am wearing a fuck-off suit of fake snakeskin!

It was perhaps irony…yet what other performer would dare such an outburst at the audience?

In 1977 the Rats screamed that Ireland could be changed…more doubted them than believed them….40 years later it is clear that Ireland has changed…..beyond imagining….it appears the Geldof and the Rats were right after all!

Huge Highlights:

Goldblade…to me they are the very essence of what punk rock means in 2015: vibrant….relevant…funny…..really funny, yet capable of making the most serious points….serious music, serious fun, a seriously positive force. Brilliant in an afternoon ballroom whose history singer (and punk historian) John Robb recounts as he cavorts in a manner that would have the ballroom proprietors turning in their elegantly constructed graves.

They reminded me of a point so elegantly stated yesterday by Joolz Denby: young people have no idea how much fun it was going on marches…you didn’t feel like people were going to change their ways or policies just because you were marching…yet you were having a laugh and felt good and that you were at least trying,

Youth, youth, youth….wasted on most of us….Yet this dynamic four-piece full of energy and yelling, screaming, guitar-shredding passion and decent tunes draw ing from decades of (punk….think about it!) and other forms of rebel rock,

Louise Distra on the big stage as part of a three-piece band…no compromise…connecting with the spirit of Patti Smith as well as Riot Grrl rockers,

Barry Cain….great journalist and chronicler of the early punk scene…and one of the most enthusiastic supporters of the magnificent Radiators from Space…recalling when NME sold 250,000 copies weekly, and later when Smash Hits sold a million every fortnight! Astonishingly influential!

Steve Drewett from the Newtown Neurotics rocked the acoustic stage…and was superbly assisted by his daughter. She was fantastic and it was quite a thing to hear a young person who might be half the legal voting age, urging the old punk rockers to vote, take hope and change the world!

The Buzzcocks were majestic…..so many bright, brilliant and energetic songs….how many bands have so many singles of that calibre? It fills me with joy every time I see them! Funny to think that when they came to Dublin in the first rush of ounk that the authorities forced them to play practically with no amplification!

For some…noise annoys…for some of us noise is truly inspiring. What a day..what music…what memories!

wildhearted outsider

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Rebellion 2015 – Day 3


Rebellion 2015 Day 3

I said it was a marathon and whilst Wonk Unit may have just arived in Blackpool this is the start of my third day. It’s a great start for me though as I get to see a band I’ve been hearing and reading about for a couple of years and have been following their own Wonk Fest for the past couple of years. They have an new member in Jess who adds a keyboards and screams to the ska tinged hardcore sound or joke core if there is such a term

Louise Distras’s acoustic set last night was a highlight and she has beefed out her sound now with a band. My introduction to Louise was at rebellion and was always solo with her guitar. I delighted in the fact that an independent woman would get up on stage and rail against the world, rallying the troops. I wasn’t expecting such a powerful set on offer from the three piece. Almost as good as the acoustic. Almost, still damn good.

AMI are from Brighton and the collective age of the four piece may not be equal to Charlie Harper from the UK subs who was standing in the from row for most of their set. Good power slightly rock sound. Singer had a descendents t-shirt so the future is bright.

Goldblade early on a Saturday afternoon on the first day of the new football season. I could have made my excuses and watched the scores but how can you miss this? Complete with oyston out banner in support of the local football team gold blade are the underdogs band and they will scream at the top of their lungs for that underdog. We will rejoice with them.

Nic Austin on the Literary stage gave us a chance to sit down and take in the stories of his time in Chelsea and his spell with Generation X. Nic is still playing, not only in Chelsea but has a new record out too, church of eon

The Boys played some acoustic versions of their early pop rock sound. Pop punk means so much more than Green Day or other sped up tuneful bands. The original wave saw bands wih basic tunes and an atitude play some great songs. The Boys had these and it is great to hear them stripped down.

999 were a punk band from my youth but I wanted to hear what Barry Cain had to say about his book sulphate street, his time as record mirror journalist and then publisher of flexipop magazine.

A-Heads were part of the anarco wave that showed that not only was diy possible, it was imperative. Say and sing what you like.

MDC certainly said and sang what they wanted. Unfortunately after sitting and waiting 15 mins we were informed they hadn’t arrived. I was hoping for this to be my chance to she’s them as they are due on last tonight. It gave me a chance to listen to monkey from the addicts and his take on performance and punk and being happy to be part of a community. Hard to believe they have recorded and released over 200 songs, must make it hard to think up a set list, I had to leave when I heard they played Israel, hugely disappointing.

Peter and the test tube babies always seemed like a band with interesting tales and it was nice to hear some of them. The literary stage is a hugely imortant facet of rebellion. We get to hear first hand accounts of what was going on with all these bands. It’s great for someone like me who was living in a different country and buying the record but not really expecting to ever be in a position to see them live. It wasn’t Peter on stage but Del from the band had some stories to tell anyway.

Steve Drewett is one such person I wrote to and wondered if I’d ever get to see him live. I have now seen him or his band the newtown neurotics 6 imes and love it every time. I had never seen him on stage with his daughter rosa before as she accompanied him on 6 tracks. It’s such a privilege to be here listening to bands that played such a part in my formative years. It’s 30 years later and life keeps moving on. We realise that but at the same time it’s always good to take stock of where we come from. For many that is the community or area they grew up for me I grew up in the punk community and the neurotics were very much neighbours, along with Ruts DC and so many more this weekend.

Culture Shock I have seen nearly as much as the neurotics and they would have lived around the corner in that community, newcomers though :). Upbeat punk and dick is in great form tonight.

The literary stage was buzzing today, nina antonia spoke of her book about Johnny thunders and her musical upbringing listening to Marc bolan

It then became time for the big guns. Hugh Cornwall from the Stranglers, Peter Perrett from the Only Ones and Steve Lake from Zounds set us up for the Boomtown Rats. I was amazed at the size of the crowd for the rats. Full to capacity but was it in anticipation of the music or was there an ‘intrigue’ factor? The crowd weren’t jumping around or celebrating each song in dance and it was thinner by the end of the set but I had to leave anyway for the neurotics and the mob that’s more my punk rock anyway. The amount of Merch the boomtown rats brought in and out was phenomenal. Signed CDs and DVDs galore. I guess autographs are important to some punks. Me? I prefer memories.

Hard Skin are one of the few bands that get away with verbally abusing the audience. Like an Oi version of Captain Hotknives they don’t take themselves seriously but realise the world is a serious place. They play in the casbah which is outdoor and a realisation for me that so many punks still smoke. We have become so accustomed to smoke free zones entering one for a gig is a real step back in time, not a better time though. Hard skin don’t care, they only care if there are fascists in the building, no room for them in our scene. A belter of a set from everyone’s favourite obnoxious wannabe skinheads

The Mob were one of the best sets a couple of years ago and tonight compete again for it. Steve lake guested and tried to remove the menace but the casbah was rocking and this was another highlight.

Buzzcocks don’t need an introduction and the songs sound like they could have been written yesterday. Such good tunes but maybe it’d be better if Steve Diggle hadn’t turned out to be such a good guitarist. These songs are too easy for him to play so he admonishes them with solos.

Steve Ignorant’s album with Paranoid Visions showed how these stalwarts can still be relevant with their new songs. Tonight’s set was a mixture of that album and some older songs that Steve had written. They also won the prize for biggest self publicists or band that wear the most of their own band tshirt

I was asleep for MDC as it is hard to sustain 14 hour punk rock days, has no-one heard of the working time directive? I did have a wry smile when I saw the line up of stalls in the casbah venue. U.S. Hardcore band with strong links to the UK anarchist punk scene competing with all the madmen records, home of the mob competing with Steve ignorant from Crass competing with hard skin whose musical roots are in that anarcho punk scene. All separate stalls, no chance of one big one in the main area next year????

Dave Cain talks about his book Sulphate Strip

Dave Cain talks about his book Sulphate Strip

MDC no show for acoustic set

MDC no show for acoustic set

Steve Drewett and daughter Rosa

Steve Drewett and daughter Rosa


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Hope show 32 – the lowdown

Hope Show 32

1 Torche – Walk It Off
2 Torche – Sky Trials
3 No Age – Defactor/ed
4 Goldblade – We’re All in it together
5 Rudimentary Peni – The Curse
6 Rudimentary Peni – The Crime OF The Century
7 Hunx and his punx – You think You’re Tough
8 Hooligan – Callin Joe STrummer
9 Dauntless Elite – We are our own legends
10 Southport – The Plasterers Song
11 Grant Hart – Morning Start
12 TV Smith – You Save My Life then ruined it
13 Hard Skin – Police Car Chasing You
14 Roughneck Riot – Do Not Feed The Animals
15 Leftover Crack – Life Causes Cancer
16 Zounds – Follow The Money
17 Flatliners – THis Respirator
18 Ruts DC – Smiling Culture
19 The Membranes – In the graveyard

We start off tonights show with two songs by Torche who are playing in Dublin this week in the Grand Social . They have been on the go sonce 2004 but this is the first I heard of them. I’m enjoying their Harmonicraft album in the same way as I ejoyed listening to Seaweed many years ago.

I’ve seen No Age twice before and am glad to hear they are returning next month. Their new album, “an object??” is out now on Sub Pop , which ironically is the same label Seaweed were on.

Goldblade were magic last week at the rebellion festival. I saw them twice, once acoustically at a HMV and the other in the Winter Gardens where the darts world championships were held recently. Both times I was part of the singalong screaming “We’re all in it together”

Rudimentary Peni didn’t play rebellion but many of their compatriots from Crass, subsequently Corpus Christ records, played. Southern have re released Rudimentary Peni’s collection so I’ve played a song from Cacophony and Archaic

Hunx and his Punx have a new album on Hardly Art called Street Punk, must be good so.

Hooligan are from Dublin and have released a new ep, No Blacks, No Irish, No Dogs. This track from it is Callin Joe Strummer and sure with a title like that you’d have to play it eh

We move to UK and have the Dauntless ELite . Their Graft lp is a much ignored album but really deserves more attention. It’s on Bombed Out records and comes with a big recommendation

Southport, I can’t sing their praises any higher. Southern Soul is their third album, their best to date and album of the year so far. Can I convince you to go and buy? Please

Grant Hart used to be in a band Called Husker DU. Maybe you’ve heard of them. He hasn’t done much in recent years but has come up with a concept album. A brave thing to do in todays throwaway times. It is a double album and really needs to be played in one sitting from start to end as it is a life tale. I don’t have 74 minutes to spare for you so Morning Star will have to for now

Like Grant Hart, TV Smith was in a famous band – the Adverts. Tim has kept going all through the years and his energy is infectious. His last album, Misinformation Overload contains a songs I’ve played a couple of times – the good times are back, so in the interest of diversity I’m playing a different one tonight.

I’m going on a bit of Rebellion set now. I’ve already played GOldblade and TV Smith but the next few songs are from bands that played great sets last week

Wrecks feature two people from Steve Ignorants new band, Slice OF life. They have a new ep out Hey! Murder, Arms is from this

Hard Skin, again, had a thousand people, proclaiming at the top of our voices “We are the Wankers” which is a sight to behold I can tell you. THis song is from their new album (of which there is two versions, one sung by the band and the other with guesat female vocalists

One great thing about Rebellion every year is that there are always new bands to discover and remember. THe Roughneck Riot are one such band – awful sound but a great performance.

Leftover Crack are the opposite. I never really like them live but love the records.

Zounds are an old favourite of mine. I wasn’t sure what their set was going to be like and was a bit concerned that it would seem stale. No need for such concerns as they played like they were 20 again.

The Flatliners put in a great performance, their acoustic set was beset with sound issues but no such issues were to be found with their full set. Hopefully they will be back next year. They do have a new album coming out next month

Ruts DC stole the show again. PLaying a mix of their own dub inspired tracks and their own classic Ruts songs. We were dancing, we were smiling, we were crying for lost ones and were enthralled by Ruts DC

The Membranes didn’t play but feature members of Goldblade. I was in town earlier at the Dublin fanzine Fair which was on in he Exchange building in Temple Bar. I passed by the New Theatre which was where the Membranes played on their second crazy visit to Dublin

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Terror of Modern Life


The Terror of modern Life

Overground Records


13 slabs of modern day Punk rock is presented to us here in the form of Goldblade’s new album. This band have been touring worldwide since 1995 with a work ethic that is second to none. Give them a gig and a chance to get to it and the men from Manchester (or at least living there) will do their damndest to make it.

It’s been 5 years since their last album, Mutiny, but in that intervening period they have played in Europe, America, Asia and Africa and singer John Robb manages to turn up almost weekly on television discussing some aspect of music.

This album is a punk rock bespectacled look at the world these days. From Brother Johns succint observations to Brothers Keith and Pete’s manic riffs to Brother Robs frantic drumming we are served up a fast punk lesson. Listening to the drone like title track and the Membranes esque bass driven sound of tracks like Shaman is Coming and hey You Elastic Face gives an insight to the bands record collection. It’s like a history lesson of independent music, part Killing Joke, part Clash, but in no part trad Rock this takes us on a journey through popular music culture.

Goldblade’s real value has been in their live shows which are an anarchic mix of rebel rousing choruses and the antics of lead singer John Robb. However this album has brought us a step closer to that experience. I’ve been using it as a soundtrack to my jogging. Plenty of speed to keep me going but not too fast for me to loose pace. And then there’s the singalong bits “Psycho Takes A Holiday” and “Sick/Tired” notable ones, however if you see an aging man jogging down the street, grinning and singing “We’re All In It Together” don’t run away from me….


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Rebellion 2013 – day 4

Rebellion 2013 day 4

The problems with doing stuff on your phone means you can lose hours of material. Don’t know how but my early descriptions of the day have vanished. I had written about pros and cons of this festival!! All gone now, must be my pocket demon deleting the punk word. I had been taking notes as I went along but now half way through the day they’re gone. And when they’re gone they’re gone!

The adolescents played their tuneful hardcore to a crowd that had been treated to strictly hardcore by Goldblade previously. Goldblade played a riotous gig. You are always guaranteed a show from brother john on vocals but they were in great form today asking people to testify to the power of rock’n’roll.


The stitches preceded them. I knew nothing about the stitches before today and bar for the purpose of this blog I don’t think I will be actively seeking them again. From la, around since the mid 90’s they were kind of comic punk to me.

Channel 3 before them were so much better. Also from la and around a decade longer they have the interesting attribute of being the only American band on an punk and disorderly compilation

The art of punk is a great book by russ Bentley and Alex ogg. They spoke about the pain of putting it together today. Alex and russ told how it was a labour of low over 18 months and the result is an extremely compressive display of artwork from punk through all stages.

Bizarre bizarre is the aptly named venue for the pukes, an 18 piece ukelele band playing punk covers. You can’t but be entertained by that.

tsol are banged out a rocking hardcore sound. Its amazing, Tshirt sales are happening everywhere as Merch takes on as much importance for some as the songs on offer. After listening to what Russ and Alex said regarding design I have taken to looking around the room at all the band branding we are so used to, logos of the subhumans, black flag, cock sparer and the Ramones are everywhere.

Can’t say that there were too many t-shirts of the nightingales in the crowd although they did have some stuff on sale. Their indie sound featured a sparse crowd. Shame as their riff laden angular pop is a good respite form gimp fist who are working class and proud. Oi oi, for sure

The quirky acoustic sounds of billy liar beckoned. One man and his guitar with a difference. Then it was back to the noise.

Fucked up are from Toronto. I saw them with gallows a couple of years ago and hated their on stage persona. I didn’t want to exchange sweat with their lead singer but maybe I was in the wrong place at the wrong time. I’m the sort of person that likes to go to see a comedian and not get singled out. I pay in not to provide the entertainment. However in the safety of the balcony seats I saw everyone buying into the fucked up regime. Tight hardcore sound. Some great songs as the singer tries to personally greet everyone in the audience lots of hugs but no missiles thrown which was the case last time. Deadly.

I ludicrous are the chalk to fucked ups cheese. Much like the nightingales earlier they come from the indie world of clean riffs and angular rhythms, much like the nightingales there were very few to share the experience with them.

Roughneck riot had a great energy about them. They were competing against awful sound. I know they’ve a ukelele and accordion and banjo but heard none of it. Lots of guitar, bass and drums energy though

The Bronx are from California, they have a rockier sound than fucked up with singing rather than screaming. There’s a similarity in extroverted vocalists adding to the spectacle. Me? I was glad if a seat to be honest but my head was bopping along and the knowledgeable crowd were enjoying it

Again it was a tale of two sounds as lene lovich took to the bizzare bizzare stage. Bizarre it certainly is, new wave sound with keyboard and that distinctive voice I hadn’t heard in nearly 30 years. Still as strong as ever and the 300 capacity crowd lapped it up.

Tv smith is part of the rebellion decor and he only played once this time. His acoustic set was jammed and he never disappoints so why stray now. I dipped in and out of his 90 minute set

Peter hook used to be in band called joy division (ever hear of them?) he then went to new order (maybe you know them?). Tonight he played unknown pleasures. Unknown pleasures!!!! What an album, and more! some amazing bass hooks in those songs

Jello Biafra has been rallying against the establishment since the dead Kennedys were a dream. He kept it going tonight with his Guantanamo school of medicine set. Powerful. Even some dead Kennedys songs thrown in for extra special good measure. It is heartening to see such a performance and we can only hope that the man is as good as his words and really wants to work with people to make this a better place to live. For an hour tonight Blackpool was a better place to be

Sham 69 were the last band on this marathon 4 days. My first experience with sham was Hurry up Harry. I got the that’s life album as a present and could recite it word for word. It didn’t take much to slip back into this memories tonight. 3000 people screaming George Davis is innocent 35 years on.

Whilst we were screaming about Angels with dirty faces Roddy radiation of specials fame was playing on a different stage with his moon stompers and discharge were discharging their speed core to another thousand people.

What a weekend


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Blackpool Day 4

Altered Images had a really enjoyable and buoyant brand of pop music when they emerged from Scotland. They cancelled a scheduled appearance in Dublin at some ball or other in Trinity at the height of their appeal. Thankfully for us pop fans Teardrop Explodes who played in McGonagles that week were persuaded to stay a few extra days to entertain the students. This may be a gig attended by Courtney Love.

At my first expedition to a music festival in England I stopped to do some record shopping. I bought the Altered Images 12″ which came with a free transfer. I had dearly loved their debut single Dead Pop Stars and Happy Birthday was no disappointment even as it strayed deliberately deeper into pop territory
And tonight there was Claire Gogan every bit as expressive and evanescent as she appeared in videos all those years ago. Rather than playing at being girlie and playful she revelled in the role. There was no pretence about reality though, she reminded us that we were all adults now; that she didn’t get out that much anymore; and seemed absolutely delighted to be playing songs she enjoyed to people who enjoyed hearing them.

Her personal narrative punctuated her set and made it all the more enjoyable and poignant. She described the huge inspiration she got from Siouxsie Sioux. And how she wanted to be Siousxie until she found her own voice. Songs like See Those Eyes, and Happy Birthday were performed with aplomb. She described how rehearsing Dead Pop Stars at home made her family worried. She was fully of buoyant good humour telling us how she asked her husband if he wanted to journey to Blackpool with her. He declined in preference to watching Andy Murray on TV. Despite it being their wedding anniversary she travelled solo. She good humouredly quipped that she should have guessed this outcome considering the first song they wrote together was ‘Don’t Talk to me About Love’. Covers of Lady Gaga’s Born This Way and a little bit of soul performed by her all-girl band aided and abetted by a little technology made this a show impossible not to enjoy.

All this on a stage recently graced by the menace of the Outcasts. The Belfast stalwarts were intense as usual. Frontman Greg Cowan’s dry humour made for a really enjoyable show.

Neville Staple also punctuated his gig with references to his family, in his case with frequent mentions of his daughter. It was her first punk gig he told us, and later joked to her that now she could see why her dad still performed music. The Specials’ man received rapturous reception for his storming set of songs drawing from the nurturing wellspring of reggae and, in particular, ska that enriched punk. One standout was ‘Doesn’t Make it Alright’ a living reminder of an era when songs attacking racism graced the pop charts.

This sentiment and moment in time was loudly and passionately evoked by Ireland’s Own Stiff Little Fingers who also recorded a version of the song. Tonight they were loud and proud in the depths of the …with a couple of thousand fans joining in with their passionate punk anthems. It is amazing that Ireland provided one of the sustained successful careers stemming from the punk era.

The Blackpool-Everton friendly was a perfect bonus by the seaside. It was completely enjoyable getting to see some of the players who will grace the Premiership and Championship next year. Dedication and coordination, and despite the stereotype many of them seem down-to-earth diligent professionals. The only downside was missing the always dependable incendiary Goldblade. In a way Goldblade, TV Smith and Los Fastidios embody the essence of the Rebellion Festival for me. You know can depend on them; yet they always surpass expectations. They never let you down, yet every time I see them I feel more and more privileged and inspired.

TV Smith was inspired indeed. He played a fantastic set of recent songs to a packed Almost Acoustic stage. The reason people pay so much attention even to his unknown songs is that he delivers them with the enthusiasm, passion, devotion and obvious care for a better, more conscious world. The veins bulging on his neck when he sings appear to course with hope.

Punk nostalgia always seemed ridiculous to me. Even the success of Green Day seemed like a cartoon copy of something that was important to me because it was original. Going to the Vans Festival in the States and following the success of Green Day made me check myself though. It was better that these bands were inspired by the Clash and the Pistols than Van Halen and Cinderella. Now I admire the sense of community and the pleasure of knowing people enjoy playing the songs they wrote or performed years ago. They are still alive and still apparently enjoying it. It is a pleasure to witness.

I also like that punk spawned so many little enterprises. In my mind even one of these bands is an enterprise. Enterprises can be run for profit, for fun or even to make a point. Some of these bands/enterprises combine this pursuit in different ways. Yet they are all still doing it and meeting people. Making connections. And that is inspiring.

The final image of the Rebellion Festival was the queue of punks in the sweet shop this morning. They were all politely waiting for their Blackpool rock. A special Rebellion Festival rock has even being offered. For some of them future Rebellions may be toothless yet sweet!


The Wild Hearted Outsider

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