A local gig by true punk rock veterans Anti-Nowhere League? Yes, please! But first we had Truro based four piece All The Bodies to kick things off.
With two of them looking like they've just finished playing table tennis at the local youth club, initial impressions aren't very promising but, as the headliners will no doubt profess later, no fucker pays to come and see me, so I guess I'll stand back, shut up and let their music do the talking....and try not to focus on the Lonsdale jumper. In fact, the music is pretty damn good, mixing in plenty of styles; some reggae, some ska, some straight-out rockers - they're clearly a band that, although young, have a vast range of influences.
Stand out tracks 'Not Our Problem' and 'Tommy Is A Scenekid' sit comfortably alongside a few choice covers, namely a punked up version of Billy Bragg's 'To Have And Have Not' (wonder where they got that idea from?) and US Bombs' 'All The Bodies' (see what they've done there?), and with a frontman looking somewhat like a young Tim Armstrong who jokes and laughs throughout the set, it really is no chore to watch these guys. I've seen far, far worse. A band with some promise at least, I'd say.
For some reason the second band billed as performing, S Punk 3, fail to appear. This no show leads to All The Bodies almost apologetically returning to the stage and offering to play a couple more songs, 'Endless Vacation' by Ramones and the self penned 'Cannot See' get a run through and they're gone again, this time for good....I think?
The arrival of The League on stage seems to go by largely unnoticed by the majority of the crowd. Walking quietly to their places on stage it takes frontman Animal's first words of "Good evening, We are .... The League" to finally gets people's attention stagewards and the band launch straight off into 'We Are The League', followed quickly by 'The End Of The Day' from the last League album 'The Road To Rampton', the first of four songs to be cranked out from that album. 'I Hate People' is up next and it's a no bullshit approach with very little banter inbetween tunes, just classic after classic keeping the pace up higher than many a band half their age could manage with 'Snowman', 'Animal', 'Let's Break The Law', and 'For You' all hot on each other's heels. "Latest single" 'Skull And Bones' gets a welcome response and shows these old dogs are still more than capable of knocking out new top notch punk rock anthems as good as anything from the back catalogue.
A brief dedication to Joe Strummer precedes 'Dead Heroes' after which Animal introduces the next song as one that was covered by a little band called Metallica. 'Pig Iron' (my personal favourite), 'Woman' and 'Fucked Up + Wasted' (surely one of the greatest punk tracks ever?) follow on from 'So What'. Goldblade guitarist Johny Skullknuckles, now also playing with the League, has the riffs rolling out faster than Mary Whitehouse spinning in her grave and the thundering rhythm section of Shady's bass and Nato's drums must've had earthquake sensors the world over pogoing in unison as, all the while, Animal tears through his trademark gravel toned vocals decked out in combats, big ass boots and shades blacker than a murderer's heart.
'Streets Of London' wraps up the main set and the band leave the stage for what seemed like all of forty seconds before they're back out and ripping their way into 'My God's Bigger Than Your God'. 'Can't Stand Rock N Roll' - complete with mid section morph into 'Johnny B Goode' - sees some serious shapes being thrown by some drunk fellows in the middle of the floor. 'Burn Em All' is introduced by Animal recounting his tale of spending all his money on a Harley Davidson and a massive amount of cocaine instead of saving it for a rainy day like the bankers of the day advised - "Who's laughing now, eh?"
Just enough time left for 'Fuck Around The Clock' and a second final outing for 'We Are The League' and it's all over, Animal thanking the small but loud and dedicated crowd for taking the time to come along and support the band, looking genuinely pleased to be doing so too.
There's still a handful of dates around the country between now and the end of the year show in Tunbridge Wells, so get out and catch one of the most real punk bands you could ever wish to see.
Long Live The League !!!