It’s nearly Christmas but instead of carols BBC Berkshire decided on a dose of live music at the Fez Club instead. Entitled the Ska/ Punk Christmas Special, it was always going to be a bit of an ear-bashing.
|Johnny Wah Wah of On-Trial|
Having missed the Born Stupid set, I’m not going to comment on them – sorry chaps. But according to those who were there, Born Stupid is an apt name.
Arriving at the start of On Trial’s set, the Fez was almost shuddering at the seams with polemical punk and razorsharp riffs that could quite happily slice into skin like a chainsaw. The star of the band is undoubtedly the goony frontman. With a Mohawk, a face scrawled with black eyeliner and a wicked sense of humour inbetween songs, former Glueball singer Johnny Wah Wah steals the show. What an entertainer, what a hollering voice!
|Johnnny Wah Wah strips at the end|
Doing pacy covers such as The Letter by A-Teens and metal mick-takes such as Hey Psycho, coupled with superb musicianship, makes this band a friendly and talented group, despite their punky image.
|The Skangsters frontmen|
By the end of third band The Skangsters’ set I found myself dancing at the front along with all other ska fans. Even though this ten-man group, complete with brass section, are essentially a covers band, they lifted the spirit to such heights that the club was aglow with twisting bodies, sing-a-longs and uproarious merriment.
|"This town, is coming like a Ghost Town"|
Starting with One Step Beyond, the ska/two-tone/reggae hits continued with The Israelites, Double Barrel (“I am the magnificent W-O-O-O”), Ghost Town, A Message To You Rudy and many more. The drumming during instrumentals slowed down sometimes but it was barely noticeable to all the happy dancers.
The Skangsters in my opinion should have headlined, purely because they put on such an alive show with boundless energy. The maniacally-quiffed Coffin Nails took that spot instead though with their nasty psychobilly punk and expletive-ridden lyrics. While the musicianship was sharp and the performances tight (and so it should for a band who formed in 1985), the overall impression was juvenile and hormone-driven, making stupid sexual references and nasty insults that belong in the Grange Hill school playground.
Their punky cover of Heartbreak Hotel was supposed to be humorous but it was bland, though Hard As Nails was a deliciously fast and furious delve into the fist-clenched underworld this band clearly inhabit. I left before the set finished feeling unimpressed with what was supposed to be the crowning act of the night. They’re big in Germany and normally play to thousands there. They played to about thirty people at the Fez as most had left just like I had. Enough said.