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JELLO BIAFRA AND THE GUANTANAMO SCHOOL OF MEDICINE/THE BERMONDSEY JOYRIDERS @ 02 ACADEMY, LONDON 06/08/11 – REVIEW BY LORRAINE

 
Sometimes I get so excited that my own scribbled hieroglyphics are unintelligible even to me. Such was the case the case when carried away on a recent wave of euphoria: the cause? The punk phenomenon that is Jello Biafra! We set off for the Islington venue on this hot pre riot August Saturday in time to catch London’s (then intact) very own Bermondsey Joyriders as support. Once described as “Chas and Dave on crack” the BJRs have been working hard over the past year, creating a stir and attracting a crowd to their 100 Club gigs where they have recently performed their new album ‘Noise & Revolution’ complete with narration from former MC5 manager John Sinclair and dancing from statuesque, queen of burlesque Luna Rosa. Although the album was originally recorded with then member ex Damned Rat Scabies on drums, tonight sees new drummer Eddie Edwards behind the kit. In keeping with the bands spirit of ’77 roots you may recognise Eddie as the man keeping the beat going with punk icons UK Subs and The Vibrators.

Ex Cock Sparrer and Little Roosters Gary ‘guitar’ Lammin is as ballsey as ever as he takes to the stage growling the lyrics to the now poignant opening track ‘Society’. By third track ‘1977’ Gary is serving up what he does best…some tasty rockin’ rollin’ blooze geetar. Although the sound was a little heavy on the vocals and light on the bass it didn’t stop ex Chelsea bassist Martin Stacey looking as suave as ever in his bowler, drape and tartan trooze. Calls for a nice “cup of tea” followed ‘Proper English’ before launching into what was one of my favourite tracks of the night, a song of a “club not yet heard of”…’Shaking Leaves’.

The band held an appreciative audience as they performed a shortened version of Noise & Revolution but those expecting the more Oi orientated chants of ‘Football’ and ‘Who Are Ya?’ may have been disappointed. That said, the band now have their feet firmly planted in an earth rumbling sonic rawk ‘n’ rawl groove that offers no less when it comes to impact. You can check it out for yourself as the band perform the whole album with the added dimension of blues harp courtesy of Urban Voodoo Machines Paul Ronney-Angel and narration from John Sinclair at the 100 Club on September 7th.

So here we are…pints downed, fags smoked, room crowded, anticipation hangs heavy and I have butterflies in my chest as I drag my beloved to the front armed with photo pass. “Jello, Jello, Jello, …….” . Light shatters through the dark and there appeareth guitarist Ralph Spight with a solo of unprecedented foreplay that has the crowd salivating for a bite of “Jello, Jello, Jello…….”. Oh my God, there he is. Not a deity but a bloke, a bloke in a harlequin style black and red jacket with THAT voice. I had listed THAT voice in my ten most memorable voices of a lifetime. I start scribbling, but I don’t want to be distracted. I want to be immersed in every second. Soon the jacket is removed in the heat to reveal a T-shirt adorned with bombs and the logo ‘Democracy…We Deliver’. Oh yeah!! First song over already? F**k that….”you take the camera”! Next song is about John Dillinger. Jello puts on a white glove and feigns shooting a gun. In fact Jello entertains throughout the set with satirical mime to accompany and demonstrate lyrics. This bloke in baggy jeans and old trainers, energetically ‘throwing shapes’  has something to say and he is going to convey that message musically, visually and verbally. Between songs I am impressed by his knowledge of UK politics, “your friend and mine” Cameron and his cuts to the vodaphone fiasco and beyond. His calls for non violent action, in the shape of boycotting the larger companies and corporations and do our little bit in our own area has stayed with me in light of recent events. He directs us to UK Uncut, a noble organisation in my humble opinion. Religion, racism, America’s ‘3 strikes’ policy….it’s not difficult to see why Jello and his global political views have led to him becoming one of the few punk icons that appeal to all ages. Please don’t misunderstand me here, Jello and The Guantanamo School Of Medicine are not about posturing and lecturing, they are very much about hard hitting, top of the range, powerful in your face, raw musical ability. With a mixed set of old and new, when it comes to sheer explosive punk rock power it was hard to differentiate newer songs such as tracks from latest album ‘The Audacity of Hype’ from the much revered Dead Kennedy Classics.

As Jello leaps about the stage and the band thrash out ‘Panic Land’, again with Spike offering some pretty nifty guitar, water seems to be a necessity as the temperature continues to rise. Not only does Jello pour it over his own head the audience also get a shower. By now I’m dancing away and any notes I attempt resemble those of a drunk, epileptic spider dipped in ink then doing the conga. By the end of the next song Jello has thrown himself into the cheering horde for a spot of crowd surfing. By the time we reach ‘California Uber Alles’ I’m ecstatic. I think I actually prayed for ‘Holiday in Cambodia’ which was delivered at the second encore. The ‘kids’ going mad at the front couldn’t have been born when it was released. “Oh what a treat they are in for at Rebellion tomorrow” I thought to myself. The end of the night, two encores down, I avidly watched Ralph Spight gesturing the sound man at the back….one more?? Jello was back with ‘I won’t give up’. Of that I have no doubt!!!

Review/photos by Lorraine

www.myspace.com/thebermondseyjoyridersofficial
www.myspace.com/jellobiafraandthegsm