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Friday night saw me running through torrential rain on the streets of Oslo, trying to get to a venue called Revolver to see Charlie Harper (UK Subs) play, backed by a local band called Riots. I’d interviewed Charlie earlier in the day prior to the sound check. I also got to meet the members of Riots, who were Paul on drums, also the UK Subs webmaster and close friend to Charlie, Mathias on guitar, Mari (a very pretty blonde girl) on bass and Gisle on vocals. The choice of venue is a strange one as Charlie is well known in Norway and could easily have filled one of the better-known, larger venues. Finding Revolver is the first obstacle, it is a large bar facing Møllergatan in the very centre of Oslo. However finding this bar is only the beginning. I walked in and there was no sign of the band. No posters or signs saying ‘Charlie Harper Gig This Way!!!’ I look confused and think I’ve come to the wrong place. The bartender is obviously used to this and merely points to a door on the far right end of the bar. So, through a door, down a corridor, out another door to the back yard, down some metal stairs, making sure heels don’t get stuck in the holes, and out on to the yard itself. Don’t trip on scaffolding, down another few steps towards a metal door. Mind your head and hold on to the railing…. (Phew note to self, don’t try this later after a few glasses of wine!) Opening the metal door, which was so heavy and there beyond is the venue. It’s a smallish room in the cellar with a bar to one side and a stage of sorts.
It is 9.15 pm and there aren’t a lot of people there. I began to worry that this would be one of those secret gigs that nobody knows about. Charlie comes over for a little chat and tells me he’s in Oslo to celebrate Paul’s 45th birthday, and they sometimes gig together for a laugh. It’s been about 5 years since Charlie gigged with Paul and the experience this time he tells me is so positive that he’s bringing back some inspirations and ideas to the UK Subs. He said he certainly learned a few new things about the way Riots play and backing vocals that he wants to try to use in some way with his own band. He’s enjoying it so much he said he might make this an annual event. I’d given Charlie an copy of my book ‘A Vicious Love Story’ earlier and we were talking about something he’d read and I suddenly looked up and people had began to arrive…..suddenly there were lots of people!.

The first band entered the stage. It’s a three piece called Diagnosis 666 from Bergen who have never played Oslo before. They wore white coats splattered with red and I think the point was to look like doctors who have just left bloodied bodies in the operating theatre. However the first thing that sprung to mind was three butchers on their way back from work at the abattoir. They played some quite good punk music that they’d written themselves, but as one song led to the next I found myself getting bored. They played well, but their set was too predictable and the songs too alike.

There was a 15 minute break and I was amazed at how many people had found their way in to this hidden cellar to see the show. Riots took to the stage to cheers from the crowd. They played a tight set and kept us entertained for the duration. The response was good and the crowd appreciative. I especially like the fact that they have a female bassist, who is not only very pretty to look at, but a competent bass player. She wore baggy jeans, t-shirt and did her job whilst trying not to play on sex or make herself the centre of attention. Riots are a good act to catch and highly recommended. The room was now quite full and I saw many well known faces from the music business in Oslo. One guy was wearing a metal studded coat and Charlie asked me to get a photo of him as he thought he looked very punk and cool. Turned out he was from New Zealand and thrilled to catch Charlie in Oslo. He told me he’d caught the UK Subs in Europe somewhere a few weeks earlier on his walkabout.

Charlie Harper entered the stage to applause, by a crowd that had now filled the venue. He’s wearing jeans and a jumper, no fancy stage wear here. I reflect on how good he looks for his age. They went straight in to ‘Squat 96’ and the fans sang along, and then over in to ‘Bitter And Twisted’ followed by ‘Left For Dead’. Some elated fans started a mosh pit of poggoing front stage and crashing into each other. Charlie certainly knows what he is doing, and his voice was clean and clear, delivering each song with the typical flair he’s known for. ‘Down on the Farm’ was a particularly memorable song and had people on their feet dancing and singing along to the music. The encores followed and ‘Crash Course’ had the crowd shouting the lyrics. Charlie Harper is still going strong and I will definitely go and see him and/or Riots again. I think it’s safe to say that a very good night was had by all who went, but then came the tricky bit of negotiating my way out of the venue without bumping my head, or tripping on scaffolding and falling over, but I made it safely home J


Squat 96
Bitter and Twisted
Left for Dead
Telephone Numbers
Barbie’s Dead
Violent City
Organised Crime
Down on the Farm
Limo Life
Party in Paris
I Live in a Car
New York State Police


Endangered Spieces
Crash Course

Review by Teddie Dahlin
Photos by Harry Nordskog

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