Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Bermondsey Joyriders w/ John Sinclair (Review)

The Bermondsey Joyriders/The Phobics - London, The 100 Club - 7th September 2011 Print E-mail
Written by Craggy   
Monday, 19 September 2011 05:00

"Society is rapidly changing", so the Bermondsey Joyriders declare. Like a stolen car from the town of which the name was born, it rapidly descends before it burns. The complexities and difficulties of our current times are so obviously reflected in this commentary. Are we all riding to an inevitable accident in someone else's expensive car?

A relentless development is paralleled in the Joyriders themselves, if only for the better. The last time I stumbled upon this unexpected wonder was at the Bubblegum Slut anniversary at the Gaff (R.I.P.) last October, where they delivered an excellent display of British punk lined with a welcome element of the blues. With a sincere delivery of the British sound complimented by the groove of American-inspired slide guitar, the Bermondsey Joyriders seemingly already had it all. Fast forward to tonight at the 100 Club and the sound remains but the experience is something new...

After Burlesque Beauty Luna Rosa warms up the stage, with the cherry-burst glow from the light upon the wall providing the perfect background, the first band to take to the stage are Deptford punks, The Phobics. I've been spinning a four-track EP (a few years old now) of theirs for the last few days, and I think "yeah, these guys are alright", nothing more, and nothing less. Tonight, though, I'm shown something that the recording obviously failed to catch. The Phobics are smooth and their songs have a driven, yet controlled energy which makes them 100_clubsound more unique than on the record I have. Even with the guitarist's apparent Tourette's, with his favourite word being "cunt", they remain charming and engaging. They smash through the set with track after track of exciting rock 'n' roll. And so instead of being merely a suitable punk support, The Phobics are genuinely fresh and inspiring.

After another airing of Luna Rosa's defined arse (the crowd being more boozed up and confident by this time), the stage is set for the main (if somewhat less beautiful to the eye) attraction of the night. The Bermondsey Joyriders have emerged with the album 'Noise and Revolution' at an appropriate time, as the reality of discontent within our shores has become apparent. The echoes of urban decay that have been developing through the streets of the capital and other major cities, and which have culminated in violence on the streets so recently, is coincidentally, but not accidentally, realised through the soundtrack of their new concept album. With John Sinclair's Detroit drawl emanating from the stage to compliment this very English attempt to understand, the social commentary here is eerily poignant. The parallel timing of this production of 'Noise and Revolution' and the chaos that recently engulfed London marks a need to understand what is happening within society and the downwards development that is so often ignored or misunderstood, and to avoid such sensationalised calls as "send the army in."

For the master poet, ex-White Panther leader, and of course ex-MC5 manager, to be delivering spoken word in tune to the new Joyriders' concept album is truly excellent. Tonight, John Sinclair's delivery is both humorous and engaging while the Joyriders' rock 'n' roll rhythms are energetic and inspiring. From the opener 'Society is Rapidly Changing' to the closer 'Noise and Revolution', the band fills the audience full of cheer and danceable rock 'n' roll. This isn't so much political punk as a story of social commentary painted on a backdrop of glammed-up bluesy rock 'n' roll.

The excellent music played between bands also adds to the generally positive atmosphere within the 100 Club. And as well as everything works tonight it must be understood that this kind of show - a live outing of an unheard concept album with complete with political commentary - takes some balls. But the strength of songs such as those already mentioned, along with the driving nature of 'Rock Star', the local familiarity of 'Proper English', and the celebration of '1977', laced with the troubadour debauchery of the slide guitar, has enough life pumping around it to keep both the socialist and the romantic bubbling along in a warm London embrace.


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