It's Saturday night in Wigan town centre, and its the debut gig for the recently formed, and much awaited local new band 'Snakes In The Grass', formed from the ashes of punk/rock n roll band The Adjusters, now with a new line up. So what is different about this band......well they are more hardcore punk, with a lot of anger to get out of their system, no longer just rockin n' rolling their way about town, and they wanna shout out loud. They were about to shake the foundations of this back room bar to its very core. Its the year of the black snake in the Chinese zodiac and lets hope it will be the year of these particular bad boys, who make up 'Snakes In The Grass' - Ash (vocals), Jimmy D (rhythm guitarist), Tom Christopher (bass), Phil Bowen (lead guitarist) and last but not least the wicked drumming of Manning.
To get the night off to a rip roaring start we had special guests 'The Black Bullets', who attacked the stage with such ferocity that Ash wondered if he could top it, or if he dared. The band all hailing from down South, spent the next 30 minutes using raw power, to spit venomous lyrics and goading this Northern contingency into some action, with skinny limbed Rob Castle on vocals "come on you're all pussies". A couple of adrenaline rushes into mosh pit and by the end of their set they were all totally spent, Castle drained of all energy, falling to the floor in a sodden heap, stripped to the waist. The baying crowd loved them and gave as good as they got, this is rock and roll in its purest form. So if you enjoy the devils music, and you like it fast and furious, you'd better check these filthy punks out, and if you don't they wouldn't give a fuck anyway!
Snakes In The Grass, the five tattooed, venomous serpents finally got their chance to shine at just after 10pm. They hurled themselves straight into their signature tune 'Year Of The Snake'. The crowd by now were all fired up and wanting the full on snake attack, so they hit em right between the eyes with a full blast of screeching guitars and ear splitting drumming. Next up came 'Live Fast, Walk Tall', a positive take on a dark and personal situation. Most of the songs are written on a personal theme, and we got a taste of 'Lost Boy' which is an ode to one of Ash's best mates Karl, an old fashioned rock n'r roll song with a elements of Johnny Thunders. And they keep on firing their heavy guitar laden songs.....'Destructive Personalities' a tune written by Jimmy D and Tom, about abusing substances and ruining lives. 'Grim Up North' is a personal howling lament to living in Wigan, with a rap chorus and rasping guitars. The first cover version of the night 'Sonic Reducer', (an old Adjusters live favourite) from The Dead Boys, there really is no getting away from the roots of this band, and they play to an over zealous crowd, who take great pleasure in a spot of stage invasion.
'Struck By Lightning' a hard, and fast punk tune, reminding us of those times when you did something you later regretted, those heavy metal guitars give it that edge. 'Memories Alight' - Ash tells us "this song is about heartbreak", as he bares his soul and spills his guts about his love life, and how he is determined to burn those memories away.
'Wolves & Snakes' starts with interesting guitar vibrations and heavy pounding drumming, (my head begins to rattle against the speakers) revealing a tale of deceit and dishonestly, the fakes and the phonies of this world. "we're all wolves, we're all snakes, you can't trust one and the other fake".
The Snakes slithered their way around the small stage, cramped for space, in between the video cameras which were rolling (as they are making a live video with Video Ink) the congregation of punks, skinheads and burlesque hussies with a variety of vibrant plumage, all pulsated, pushed, sang, danced and shoved to the heavy strains of the dirty punk sounds.
Far too soon we are on the last number, and its a cover version of Swedish punk band Turbengro's, (another old favourite of Ash's) 'I Got Erection', only they play it just that bit harder and heavier. We had Ash doing his crowd surfing bit, and Jimmy D standing on the table tops, hammering his guitar, this was no ordinary gig, this was bedlam and anarchy, but then you gotta be able to walk the walk and talk that talk, and I think they achieved it tonight.
The band had worked their socks off with a mix of chaos, and a torrent of passion, which resulted in a rather exciting and animalistic spectacle. As one wise and successful music entrepreneur once remarked "I always feel more comfortable in chaotic surroundings. I don't know why that is. I think order is dull." - Malcom MClaren. If you want to be transported to a state of anarchy these Northern rattlesnakes are ones to watch this year. Rebellion could come calling.....go get em boys!
Year Of The Snake
Live Fast, Walk Tall
Grim Up North
Sonic Reducer (Dead Boys cover)
Struck By Lightening
Wolves & Snakes
I Got Erection (Turbonegro cover)
Review & photos by Melanie Smith