Damaged Goods Xmas Party - 100 Club - Gigs - Reviews - Soundblab

Damaged Goods Xmas Party - 100 Club

by Priscilla Eyles Rating: Release Date:

Tonight's line-up for cult indie-punk label Damaged Goods at the legendary and sadly endangered 100 Club was a mixed bag, featuring the primal punk of Thee Spivs and Hardskin, alongside the more bubblegum-flavoured pop-punk of Tender Trap and Betty and the Werewolves.

The crowd, reflecting the line-up was certainly mixed as well comprised of middle-aged men who were clearly punks when The Sex Pistols were in the charts, and twenty-somethings dressed as either punk -era mods or indie darlings. And, if I'm not rightly mistaken, pop-punk aficionado Steve Lamacq is also in the audience tonight, a sure sign of any night's indie credibility.

First act on was Tender Trap a group whose kitsch sensibility was a bit lost on me. Their songs such as 'Do You Want a Boyfriend?', 'Girls with Guns' and 'My Best Friend', were harmless enough and certainly had the indie kids bopping , while lead singer Amelia Fletcher had a charming presence. But for me the songs all melded into one and were just not that exciting, and I found the vocals and harmonies left something to be desired, sounding a bit bland at times and at other times a bit out of tune. After a couple of songs I was ready for the next act.

Next act Thee Spivs was a complete contrast; this time there was a lot more energy and they blasted and banged their way through their set with a ferocity that could only be admired, and the crowd, old and young, moshed their heads off as if their lives depended on it. It was really as if we'd suddenly been transported back to 1977, and for anyone who had never seen The Ramones, Dead Kennedys or Sex Pistols in their heyday, well, this was probably the closest they were going to get. Songs such as 'Radio' (with its sing-along chorus of "There's nothing on the radio" that had everyone going), and the vitriolic 'Leave Me Alone' channel the spirit of rebellious and frustrated youth, while they also show their sense of humour with a song called 'Uncle's Got an Asbo'. Meanwhile the disarmingly preppy looking lead singer Ben Edge (how punk), alternately screams, shouts and sings making you worried at times for the state of his vocal chords, while also loving his wild abandon.

After the assault of Thee Spivs, came the further sonic assault of Hard Skin, a band which have the same primal energy and similar references to Thee Spivs although located a bit later, as lead singer Fat Bob (who is also A& R man for Rough Trade Records) points out they reference music circa 1980. And indeed they do look like they're extras from This is England, and they're still ranting like Thatcher's in power. Their songs feature a prolific use of the word 'cunt' and variations on 'fuck', one song 'Copper Cunt' with its tirade against the police (yawn), sums up how derivative, clichéd and crude they are, while less offensive songs such as 'Down the Pub' and 'Beer and Fags' mark them as a much crapper version of bands like Sham 69. They also had a tendency of insulting the crowd, calling us 'soft shites' at one point which seemed like very contrived provocation. They also ironically railed against the fact that no-one will play them on the radio (what a surprise! I wouldn't have guessed), all of which soon wears thin.

So it was a relief when they finally left the stage, and Betty and The Werewolves came on in vintage dresses and cute haircuts. They peddled a similar kitsch sound to that of Tender Trap (sounding most like The Long Blondes with a hint of The Slits, though I would argue that they were actually better than The Long Blondes who are bit inconsistent in my opinion), with this difference that the melodies were actually memorable and catchy and the vocals, while not amazing, were pleasant to listen to. They also had an energy and enthusiasm (evident in their smiling faces) that was engaging, so that even if the guitarist did make a few noticeable mistakes in the solos, you forgave her. Lead singer Laura McMahon (who was quite a ringer for Sadie Frost), also had the fun ability of being able to jump up and down and play the bass (without error mind) at the same time. Songs such as 'Paper Thin', 'Purple Eyes', 'The Party', 'Plastic' really had me and the crowd going, you couldn't help but dance with a smile on your face really. While slower songs such as the brilliant rockabilly-inflected 'Hyacinth Girl' were just as engaging and showed they had some versatility, they were definitely the highlight of the night.

So it wasn't all good, but if you want an antidote to the usual mainstream fare then the nights Damaged Goods puts on are definitely worth checking out.

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