Now its time once more to get into the live arena and the sheer number of bands that are on offer makes the choice incredibly difficult but we decide the day would start well with punks first wavers 999. And it’s good choice because Nick Cash and his boys let rip in the huge Empress Ballroom and resurrect the spirit of 77 to everyone’s joy.
Next we skip round to the Arena to see Colleen Caffeine and Detroit’s finest, Choking Susan. Okay its cards on the table time because I have to tell you that I have been shadowing this band on all the dates of their current England tour, culminating in this, their final show at Rebellion. They didn’t disappoint in any way. It’s been an experience for me to see the band become tighter and more focused as the tour progressed so that the band that played on the Area stage was as sharp as razor wire and just as dangerous. But as good as the music is its Colleen Caffeine who makes this quartet really stands head and shoulders above other punk bands. Today a packed auditorium is treated to a performance by a true artist at the top of her game and someone who deserves and needs to move up to one of the bigger Rebellion stages in 2013.
Following close on the heels of Choking Susan is Coventry’s Dragster who also turn in a storming performance. It seems, to me anyway, that each band treats their allocated spot at Rebellion as a chance to really shine and put the proverbial boot into the crowd. In this respect Dragster don’t hold back and get stuck in from the word go. When Dragster finally decide to stop the pummelling I decide it’s time for a beer and a breather.
There is a multitude of trader’s stalls to browse and as one wanders the main thoroughfare of the Winter Gardens between sets, they are selling every kind of paraphernalia a punk could ever want or need. Mostly it’s t-shirts or records and there must be a tee for every punk band that every existed and even I’m moved enough to buy one. However I am amused to see a t-shirt with the words ‘I Hate Thatcher’ emblazoned across its chest and you have to wonder who in 2012 would buy and wear such a thing. There are enough thieves and liars masquerading as politicians today that are equally deserving of contempt without having to harp back to that bitch. A hearty plug goes out to STP Records you must catch Stu Taylors merchandise and bands he promotes here: www.stprecords.co.uk
And somewhere along the line we manage to briefly catch other bands, from Belgium punk band Funeral Dress, to the effervescent phenomenon that is Spizz Energi dressed all in black with illuminating logos emblazoned, who the audience in this Opera house adored. We also witnessed the newly reformed tribal sounds of Bow Wow Wow featuring Malcom McClarens former teenage prodigy, Annabelle Lwin. I was advised to prepare for a somewhat nervous singer, although her nerves were heavily masked on this occasion. Bouncing around and teasing the crowd, with a touch of Cherokee Indian flavoured outfit, also in the drumming seat we had the original drummer Dave Barbarrossa,
The next few bands we catch are old school: Penetration, Vice Squad, Chelsea, all great bands in their day, and still great bands now. Pauline Murray, Gene October and Beki Bondage still have the wherewithal to command a crowd and some of the singles they’ve released still remain the gold standard of punk rock.
Along with thousands of other we eventually end up in the Empress Ballroom waiting for Manc(ic) punks Slaughter and the Dogs to appear. Somewhere way back in time when punk was in its infancy I was walking down Oldham Street in Manchester when I got stopped by a young guy handing out flyers for a show by this band called the Damned. That young guy was called Mick Rossi, the guitarist of Slaughter and the Dogs whose chance meeting that day probably played a pivotal role in me getting into punk rock. There are some singles that I never tire of playing. 'Cracked Up Really High', and 'Boston Babies', but one of them is the ‘The Bitch’ which Slaughter plays tonight with a barrel full of spite. Also joining them is James Stevenson from Chelsea, to play the classic Lou Reed /Velvet Underground number 'I'm Waiting For My Man'. It’s a cool set by a still great band.
Meanwhile the backstage area is being prepared and cleared for the final act of the evening. No-one is allowed to go anywhere near Lydon or his band. Finally it’s Saturday’s headliners Public Image Limited. John Lydon/Johnny Rotten are names that will be forever synonymous with punk. Tonight, after a few hecklers express dissatisfaction at the dirge like pace of the music Lydon tells them that’s he’s an ‘Original Punk’ whatever that is, and intimates that without him there wouldn’t be a Rebellion. Maybe, maybe not. The truth is punk wasn’t created by any one person, but a loose collection of people moving in roughly the same direction. I have this thought on my mind as PIL slide into another long meandering number. And for the first and only time during Rebellion I find myself riding a charabang to boredom.
SUNDAY: LAST DAY
One of the best things about Rebellion is that even when the Winter Gardens closes its doors for the day, the music still continues with after show gigs in near-by pubs and bars. This will take you to two or three in the morning after which people stagger back to their respective hotels and B&BS or whatever. I’m fortunate in that the hotel I’m staying at continues to serve alcohol to an ungodly six o’clock in the morning by which time most of the revellers have ended up out on the street, drinking and laughing and listening to the lonely cry of seagulls as the Blackpool sun slowly rises on the final day of Rebellion. I flop into bed when it’s broad daylight hoping to sober up and recharge the batteries for the coming day of music.
I wake late Sunday morning and I am both hung-over and completely fucking knackered. I drag myself to the Winter Gardens for one last round and plonk myself down in the Empress Ballroom to watch John Robb throw himself about the stage, half naked [but the women don't seem to mind] as his fellow Goldblade's bang out tune after great tune.
We take a trip to the Olympia to see highly recommended all-girl band from nearby Fleetwood, Pink Hearse whipping up a storm with their unique brand of horrorpunk. Green/blonde haired Nikki stole the show with her electrifying, and energising performance.
From then on it’s a case of meeting friends both old and new, because it is incredibly easy to forge friendships at Rebellion and spend the time discussing bands that have played. Another cruise around the Spanish Rooms to catch a short burst from our Leeds chum the very wonderful 'take no prisoners' Louise Distras, fresh from her experience of busking outside, now playing an acoustic set, cut short by a snapped string.
Other bands we captured briefly were Emily & The Faves, Emily of The Stealing Sheep band, and the very lively and raucous Spanish band Segismundo Toxicamono going down a storm in the Empress, to Septic psychos rocking it in the Olympia followed by The Human Project and The Kirkz.
We caught an interview in progress with Gaye Black, former bassist with the Adverts, supported at the back of the room by her partner TV Smith. Mel our Photographer left at this point and in the end I decide to just get myself a good spot in the Empress, buy myself a few hairs of the dog and watch all the bands that are playing in there.
First is the very wonderful Argy Bargy who for my play the best song of the festival with a track from their new album, ‘This is me’. Next up is ex-Specials man Neville Staples who rock steadies the house with some great version of tunes his previous band 'The Special' made famous: ‘Ghost Town’, ‘Enjoy Yourself’ and ‘Message To You Rudy’ are all well received and danced to.
And that’s your lot. For those that say punk is dead, my advice is to purchase a ticket for Rebellion 2013 and see how alive it is. Me, I can honestly say I had the best time ever and can’t wait for next year to do it all over again. [And so says the Editor too - and even if Punk music is not for you, its one of the best festivals you will ever attend, even if its just for the vibe.] What are you waiting for....go get your tickets reserved for next year! www.rebellionfestivals.com
Mudkiss would like to thank Rebellion for inviting us to review and photograph the festival - and an extra special thanks to Dod Morrison.