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Rockaway Beach 2019, Butlin's, Bognor Regis - Part Two

  • Published in Live

Photographs by Steven Velentzas

The Saturday headline slot was filled by the obvious big draw of electronic/industrial pioneer Gary Numan. Various t-shirts from past tours were in evidence throughout the camp all day and people we chatted with had seen him anything up to a dozen times since he started out. Anticipation was naturally high and it’s fair to say that there was little room for disappointment. ‘Are Friends Electric?’ was rather too industrialised (with the quiet passages being almost acapella) but aside from that the material both old and new was delivered in consummate fashion. Certainly a pleasing show if, like me, you’d never seen him before.

Sunday saw us starting early again to see Squid at Noon. And well worth it they were too. An eclectic, Parquet Courts-influenced (or I’m a Dutchman) quintet, they had bags of energy and a lot to say about houseplants and older movie icons. Too-short trousers were in evidence again (something, along with moron antennae, the general age of the crowd thankfully means few of) but musically they manage a sound beyond their years & so should hopefully gain wider acclaim as 2019 progresses.

Post-Sunday roast the earlier momentum was somewhat lost by the pedestrian Yassassin. They were making all the right musical noises but I failed to engage. Lorelle Meets The Obsolete were as good as expected but still rather too dreamy to hold my attention for long, particularly when a good seat couldn’t be found. Standing up for shoegaze isn’t as fun as it used to be.

Rounding off the shows in the smaller hall tonight was another first sighting for me – Luke Haines. Given the equipment littering the stage for the bulk of the weekend it was almost a shock to see him there with just his guitar, to deliver songs about “wrestlers, terrorism & Peter Sutcliffe”. But deliver them he did, to the obvious enjoyment of the numerous fans in attendance. Merriment ensued at one point when, having merely raised his arm to illustrate a point in a song, he broke off to assure us he'd not been attempting a Nazi salute & then had to be reminded where in the song he’d been, all the time laughing at what an odd moment he’d just given us all. Not a manner in which you’ll often see acts trip themselves up.

Eddie Argos had been watching Luke Haines although the arm incident wasn’t something he included when mentioning the fact later on upstairs. ‘Cult Band’ was the song being introduced at the time, the inference being that Haines is a cult figure. Which seems fair to me. Art Brut were the third of this weekend’s acts I’d previously not seen but was keen to and they were on the bill in just the right spot. Whipping the crowd up, despite a rather long bit of waffle during ‘We Formed A Band’ and another later on when Eddie dithered about the stage wondering whether to get into the pit or not (he did eventually then regretted it) they were on point and got the crowd bouncing along, with the newer material  from Wham! Bang! Pow! Let’s Rock Out! sitting comfortably alongside the older songs. His Mum would have been proud.


Echo & The Bunnymen were the final act of the weekend. Still arriving onstage to the accompaniment of Gregorian chants they're clearly back in love with their own material as there was none of the cover version malarkey from the same event four years ago (although apparently some random Doors lyrics were bandied about later in the set) so the adoring fans were well served. And that was it for another year. The Jesus And Mary Chain have already been announced as the main headliner in 2020 so get booking and start the year of perfect vision in fine aural style as well.  


Luke Haines - Smash The System

  • Published in Albums

So it’s back to nostalgia for the ‘70s once more with Luke Haines on new album Smash The System. Not that it’s maybe that decade as experienced in this reality but nevertheless it bears a pretty good resemblance.

Sport-wise darts rather than wrestling (as lovingly recalled on 9½ Psychedelic Meditations On British Wrestling Of The 1970s And Early '80s from 2011) gets top billing this time around with Eric Bristow & Bobby George being name-checked on 'Are You Mad'. The late Marc Bolan is fondly remembered on ‘Marc Bolan Blues’ amidst a ton of double entendres. Elsewhere The Incredible String Band's singing is compared to "a couple of weasels trapped in a sack". He loves them though.

Other than the time period being recalled there’s no theme to this work, unlike on the aforementioned wrestling album and there are properly enjoyable tunes (unlike British Nuclear Bunkers from last year). For that latter point this is then definitely a return to form.

The politics of the era is the first of the album's touchstones on opening track 'Ulrike Meinhof's Brain Is Missing', an I, Ludicrous-like take on the odd-but-true disappearance of the German terrorist's gehirn following her death in custody. Naturally it's sung from the organ's point of view.

As Peter de Vries said, however, “nostalgia ain’t what it used to be” and Smash The System suffers from a bit of bogging down as early as the second song ('Black Bunny (I'm Not Vince Taylor)'). Taylor's a star maybe too obscure for many although his Wikipedia entry will no doubt get a lot more hits in coming weeks.

'Power Of The Witch' is a pretty straight ahead riffs-&-shouting number and things then get back to the album's earlier promise from 'Cosmic Man (Intro)' onwards. Haines has a great way with words when it comes to setting the scene and he's at his best when you suspect his tongue is well in his cheek. Couple that with the edgier uses he puts his electronica to, throw in a child's choir and you know you're back on bizarre but safe ground. 'Bruce Lee, Roman Polanski & Me' is inspired lunacy of the highest order.

Whilst such recent albums as New York In The '70s and Rock And Roll Animals maybe enjoy a greater degree of cohesiveness (easier to achieve with an encompassing theme after all) Smash The System is a very good release & features the year's best kazoo solo to boot.

Smash The System is available from amazon & iTunes.

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