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On a grey Friday Blackpool morning, the streets are embroidered with colours of all shades and Rebellion really starts to get into full swing. It’s not hard to think that for a lot of the punks who make the yearly pilgrimage to converge on this seaside town on the North West coast of England, that’s it’s the one time of year they can roam the streets freely and not feel out of place. It’s a far cry from the days when punk first emerged in the late seventies where something as innocuous as coloured hair or using eye liner, or even wearing drainpipe jeans was a passport to getting a good hiding. Now weekends like this show a thriving counter culture in all its splendour and it’s a beautiful sight to behold. One thing that soon becomes very apparent is how punk has taken root in every foreign soil imaginable, because the air is alive with all kinds of language. It humbling to see people from all corners of the globe, not just the bands but the fans as well, be moved enough to make every effort to come and share a common interest and that common interest is punk music.

Our first band of Friday is Pipes and Pints from Eastern Europe who play a gutsy and dirty folk punk with the aid of a set of bagpipes. I like them and the fact that Rebellion is a festival that compiles a diverse set of bands like Pipes and Pints that might not be stuff that you normally get exposed to. After that we stroll over to the Olympia stage which is really two stages – Olympia and Olympia 2 – which alternate bands i.e. as one finishes it’s set another is on stage and raring to go. It’s a great idea and one that keep the tempo continually on a high.    

There are bands that come along every so often that make you wonder how on earth you ever lived without their music. Ladies and Gentlemen I introduce to you Canada’s finest import Maximum Rock & Roll FUCK! These boys can rock. I don’t think there’s anything that can prepare you for the crushing heaviness these boys crank out. I also like that there’s five diverse characters on stage, each throwing rock star shapes which adds to the show rather than distracts from it. In fact the plan was to only watch half of Maximum RNR’s set at the Olympia then move on to see another band, but these guys are so good it was impossible to tear yourself away from the fun.

The Adverts were by default the first punk band it was my pleasure to see way back in May of 1977. They were supporting the Damned at the tiny Middleton Civic Hall on the outskirts of Manchester and there began my lifelong affiliation with all things punk rock. Now some thirty-five years later I get to see TV Smith again in the grandeur of the Empress Ballroom. By the way I have seen the Adverts and TV Smith plenty of times in those intervening thirty-five years but to heighten the drama let’s pretend I haven’t. Tonight is an odd gig in that Smith’s band, the Valentine’s, are stranded at an airport somewhere in Europe, leaving Tim Smith to perform the songs acoustic style, which was still cool.

Last year Mudkiss interviewed Viv Albertine and asked her what she thought of punk and she replied she thought it had become ridiculous. So it’s kind of odd to see her headlining the Bizarre Bazaar stage. For sure Viv was a pioneer with the Slits though she now plays music which can only be described as difficult. You may argue that of all the bands on show over these four days bar one, Viv, by virtue of playing exactly what she wants irrespective of whether anyone likes it, is staying true to the punk ethos. I don’t know the answer but I do know that Viv is going to follow he intuition no matter what, and for that she can only be applauded.  


On more recognizable ground, musically speaking is Birmingham’s Drongos For Europe. Don’t get fooled by the name because this band is one of the best exponents of street punk in the UK. They literally rip through their set tonight with a passion from within. And that seems to be the theme running through the entire festival; every one of the bands that play during the course of Rebellion, mean it. I didn’t see one lacklustre performance by any band which is impressive by any standard, but you soon realise that for these bands Rebellion is a pilgrimage where most of play for the love of the music rather than any remuneration.   

And so it goes.We witness Conflict play a show in the Olympia that’s almost anger personified. Now Mohicanless singer Colin Jerwood spends most of the set in the pit or the throng of the crowd and the whole affair is more a black throated howl at authority than a gig. We see Australia’s Rust batter its audience into submission with their oi oi Aussie rock n roll. Then stand with mouth agape at the manic performance of Texas Terri Bomb that’s nothing less that mesmerising.

As in the previous days review, its really hard to see everything, but other bands we witnessed briefly in action this evening ... in the acoustic room Per-kie, a performance by the newly reformed Bow Wow Wow, in the Empress a sparking set from The Boys featuring original first wave punks Casino Steel and Honest John Plain, the stomping sounds of rock n' roll with Vince Ray & The Boneshakers, a couple of new names followed - HDQ, 2nd District, Sick On The Bus, and Rochdale's very own Potential Victim.

One thing thats hard not to notice is the phenomenal amount of alcohol that gets imbibed at Rebellion and it is incredibly easy to slip into a cycle of see a band have a drink, see a band have drink. I learned this from pleasant experience when my grip on reality finally relaxed it hold just before Social Distortion took the stage in the Empress Ballroom. When I looked at my notebook the following morning I’d scrawled one word ‘good’ so I can only assume they were. Day two over, this is fun!

Check out my slideshow of images, it'll take a while to load as there are over 400 images from 36 bands I shot over the weekend.

Review by Phil King
Photos by Melanie Smith 

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