FESTIVAL REVIEW: Rebellion Festival Blackpool 3rd August 2019 – Sizzling Saturday

Day three of Rebellion. Friday was hard to beat and as the weather maintained the fierce heat, it had become a war of attrition to see who could actually stay in the venue throughout the duration. The Opera House did have air conditioning and this was very welcome and as luck would have it, the line up was very inviting, regardless of temperature. If you had already read Day One and Two then you’ll know how hectic it could be to try to catch so many great bands but after the intensity of Friday, there was no relenting as each venue had its attractions. Of course, there’s more to Rebellion than just music, the art and the talks were a great way to interact with artists on many levels. For some, it’s the camaraderie and social side that is the heart of the festival and it continues to grow year by year. It’s testament to the organisers Darren Russell-Smith and Jennie Russell-Smith, along with their various teams as well as the security and support staff that make this event what it is.

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Up first in The EMPRESS was the well travelled band Los Fastidious. They had a 20 day tour which involved driving over 4,000 miles taking them across Europe and the U.K. What made this gig special, something never done before at one of their gigs! It’s hard to beat a marriage proposal during one of the biggest gig you’ve ever played. Enrico (Vocals) got down on one knee and proposed to Elisa. A wonderful moment from a memorable gig for them. Elisa who manages and photographs the band certainly looked surprised but said yes in front of more than a thousand cheering fans.

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[ngg src=”galleries” ids=”1212″ display=”basic_slideshow”]It was also a busy time for Slagerij, who played in The PAVILLION. Guitarist Martin Montier also played for HR (Ex-Bad Brains) and this gave the band the opportunity to tour the UK with HR. Described as “In ya face ska/punk” the band were certainly up for it early on Saturday afternoon.

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[ngg src=”galleries” ids=”1213″ display=”basic_slideshow”]Saturday was a memorable day in The OPERA House for me with so many great bands lined up. The DeRellas were the first band up and set the tone. The 100 Club had been the bands regular haunt in the past year but it was a stark contrast to play Rebellion and they carried it off superbly. One of the coolest looking bands at the festival, the Glam/Trash/Rock ’n’ Roll look matched the location. Leather jackets, eye-liner and low slung guitars were the order of the day, the “Highrise Supersize” superstars just loved to “Stick it to the man”. The barrier was bursting with appreciation as they ran through their set.

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[ngg src=”galleries” ids=”1214″ display=”basic_slideshow”]Reaction like to “Keep It Weird, Keep It Wired” like their recent album. Playing the PAVILLION this year they invited Alex Gordon from Citizen Fish who stepped in to play trumpet on “Rust Town” with no rehearsal and having never met the band either, respect. Master stroke to a great set. The band were looking on point and their music matched their slick appearance. 

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[ngg src=”galleries” ids=”1215″ display=”basic_slideshow”]Having played a pre-festival gig on Wednesday night, Vomit were already fired up for Rebellion as they stormed the ARENA. They’ve honed their set list and it was full of great energetic tunes. Lee Campbell (Vocals) engaged with the crowd and it was all part of the allure of Vomit who have been kept busy gigging all over the UK recently. “Middle America” and especially “Bound For Glory” were the standout tracks for me.

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[ngg src=”galleries” ids=”1226″ display=”basic_slideshow”]If VOMIT didn’t brighten up the day, then Hobo Jones and the Junkyard Dogs certainly got a smile on everyone’s face. Regulars at Rebellion, the scruffy exponents of skiffle, love to tear up a festival. It’s as much about the banter with these guys as it is the music and the CASBAH had a blast. 

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[ngg src=”galleries” ids=”1231″ display=”basic_slideshow”]As I checked the running order, a recommendation from Newts Newton (Angelic Upstarts Guitarist) This Means War, were already playing in the PAVILLION. Unknown to me before Rebellion and what a find. Hailing from the “lowlands” of Belgium/Netherlands they were flying high at Rebellion with a storming set. A mixture of hard-hitting street punk/oi, verging on melodic hard-core at times, they certainly made the crowd stand up and pay attention. The recent release “Heartstrings” made up the bulk of their set and they got some richly deserved applause from the crowd. 

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[ngg src=”galleries” ids=”1233″ display=”basic_slideshow”]Second band of the day at The EMPRESS for me was 999. It was a greatest hits set with Nick Cash in his element moving around the stage and “Feelin Alright With The Crew”. Another energetic performance from Stu Meadows on drums and his usual busy weekend playing in multiple bands. Still a popular choice at Rebellion and the busy room backed that up. With a new album in the making, there’s no stopping these guys. The crowd heard some of the new material but it was the closing number “Homicide” that had them singing along.

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[ngg src=”galleries” ids=”1216″ display=”basic_slideshow”]Having missed the recent Scottish tour by Healthy Junkies, I had to wait until Rebellion to see them play this year. It was a very confident controlled performance on The ARENA Stage. Nina Courson had an air of magnificence about her as she commanded her stage. The band have relentlessly played gigs up and down the UK and it’s certainly shows in the delivery of their songs. Phil Honey Jones (Guitar) moved around Nina as the pair swapped microphones between songs. They are the main stays but this incarnation of the band certainly rocked Rebellion. Probably best seen in a club gig but they certainly are deserving of the bigger stages.

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[ngg src=”galleries” ids=”1217″ display=”basic_slideshow”]Having had a taste of indie/grunge in The ARENA, it set me up perfectly for another band that came highly recommended by one of the Rebellion Photographers. Fluffy Machine, all the way from Switzerland. This bunch of crazy guys lit up the Rebellion Introducing Stage. The room was packed but I managed to squeeze in down the very front as the three front men, all playing guitars and bass, invariably jumped and threw themselves around the tight stage. The band encouraged the crowd to come up for a “sweaty hug” at the merch stand afterwards as they had some “shit for sale”. It was a hot sweaty performance and I am sure they will be back on a bigger stage in the future.

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[ngg src=”galleries” ids=”1218″ display=”basic_slideshow”]Having played the new album by Alvin Gibbs and the Disobedient Servants, I was keen to hear it played live. With, Jamie Oliver (Drums), Leigh Heggarty (Guitar), Steve Crittal (Guitar) and Alvin on Bass, you couldn’t pick a better line up. Each member as iconic and talented, it would be hard to find a better place to be. The OPERA House was the venue. Of course, being a relatively new “band”, they had the material from the album and having played with Iggy Pop, we were treated to two great versions of “1969” and “Down on The Street”. Alvin paid his respects to the two front men he had played with for most of his career but it was Charlie Harper that came out on top as his all time favourite. In-between songs, Alvin directed the crowd to the merch stall as each break became funnier and funnier as the crowd joined in with heckled responses to his mention of all things “mech”. If the fantastic four weren’t enough, the mid-set addition of Gizz Butt (Janus Stark and ex-Prodigy) was the icing on the cake. I look forward to seeing the band again, soon.

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[ngg src=”galleries” ids=”1219″ display=”basic_slideshow”]A great place to chill out in-between stages in the Acoustic Lounge. I stopped by to see my old amigo, Mauri Clash City Rocker. He was joined by Enrico from Los Fastidious for a few numbers.

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[ngg src=”galleries” ids=”1232″ display=”basic_slideshow”]A band that have outgrown the Acoustic Lounge are Ruts DC. Their usual acoustic performance was moved to The OPERA House this year and it was a great piece of planning. Although, I’m not 100% sure one man agreed. It was Leigh Heggarty’s third set in a row having played with TV Smith and Alvin Gibbs. He did jokingly comment earlier to me in the day he wondered if Ruts D.C. could pull off doing an acoustic performance in such a large venue. It was really never in doubt, whether they play to 50 people in the pub or a packed out OPERA House, they never disappoint. It was strange seeing Segs armed with an acoustic guitar instead of his trusty beaten up old fender bass. Dave Ruffy looked like he meant business with his drum and brushes. Starting with “Something I Said” and “West One”, they could do no wrong. The newer material also worked well. “Music Must Destroy”, the title track from their 2016 album was played with some relish by Segs. It is not easy to transpose your songs to acoustic and it was strange hearing the non-electric version of “Psychic Attack” but crowd favourite’s “Starring At The Rude Boys”, “In A Rut” and “Babylons Burning” brought the house down, literally. There is no going back for Ruts D.C. to the lounge now as I’m afraid they’ve set a precedent!

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[ngg src=”galleries” ids=”1220″ display=”basic_slideshow”]Having missed Subhumans already at Rebellion, I had Citizen Fish fixed on my radar. Both bands have the incredible lyrics of Dick Lucas but approach the issues of society and politics from different angles. Whether you listening to “Working On The Inside” or “Human Conditioner” you can’t fail to marvel at Dick’s way of getting his message across. We heard the disparity of society in “Click” and “HD Riot” the final rally of “Charity” and “Meltdown” demonstrated the bands diversity. The infectious mix of ska and punk drove the set and the lyrics of the rather depressing situation we are in as a society are ultimately offset by the nature of the uplifting blend the music brings as guitar, brass and a driving/pumping rhythm section keep it all bouncing. The final song “Wake Up” is a message to everyone present. 

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[ngg src=”galleries” ids=”1221″ display=”basic_slideshow”]With so much going on, it was really hard to pick what to watch but The OPERA House was the default location for me. It was Duncan Reid and the Big Heads, that kept the audience rooted in the venue with their pop/rock’n’roll tunes which included, “Baby Doll” “Bombs Away” and “Just Because You’re Paranoid”. The band were very visual to watch. If it’s wasn’t Duncan in his pink suit and pink “Duncanbacker” bass guitar, then it was Nick Hughes and Sophie K Powers that grabbed the limelight when they came to the front of the stage much to the crowd and the photographers delight. The rather diminutive figure of Karen Jones on Drums almost went unnoticed as she struggled to be seen above the toms but she held the band together. “Brickfield Nights” was sung by Nick Hughes (Guitar) before “First Time” saw the song dedicated to long term friend, Honest John Plain. As it transpired it was Sophie’s birthday, what a great way to spend it.

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[ngg src=”galleries” ids=”1222″ display=”basic_slideshow”]Having never seen Bad Brains or HR play live before, his name jumped off the page when I saw the line up. The diversity on offer at Rebellion continued with this legend, and I do not use that word lightly. His grace and composure on stage was matched by the quality of his music. The dub/reggae/ska vibe was euphoric. The CASBAH does throw up some incredible performances and although it was a rather laid back vibe from what had been played prior, it was no less engaging. Probably best described as “you had to be there”, it was almost spiritual by nature. A great follow up to Citizen Fish, so, whoever was responsible for the schedule, knows exactly how to run a festival!

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[ngg src=”galleries” ids=”1230″ display=”basic_slideshow”]I walked passed the Acoustic Lounge en-route to the next venue and caught Nick Cash of 999 doing what loves, performing to a willing crowd. Standing room only for his show and why not.

Back to The OPERA House for Irish stalwarts, The Outcasts. The band draw a large crowd anytime they play and Saturday was no different. They kicked off the set with cover of The Stooges “1969” and ended with another cover, “Complete Control” by The Clash. Inbetween, the eager crowd were treated to the old favourites which included “Self-Concious Over You” and the ironic “Just Another Teenage Rebel” and “Stay Young”. They may have aged since forming in ’77 but the spirit is still there.

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[ngg src=”galleries” ids=”1223″ display=”basic_slideshow”]The diversity kicked in again on The CASBAH stage as Rebellion regulars Maid of Ace followed on from HR. The four sisters have a strong reputation for kicking the ass out of any performance and they showed what they are made of. Alison, Anna, Amy and Abby absolutely crushed the CASBAH. Rebellion was the perfect platform for them to launch into their European tour which was planned for the following week. The set was predominantly songs from their most recent album “Made In England”. They ripped through their set and even broken strings didn’t stop the onslaught!

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[ngg src=”galleries” ids=”1224″ display=”basic_slideshow”]I stopped by the Acoustic Lounge to catch a couple numbers by Mark and Kahan of Booze and Glory. The tunes really came over well being played on the acoustic guitars and it was absolutely packed. With a new album looming, the band will look forward to a busy year in 2020.

Another band celebrating their 40th anniversary were The Cockney Rejects. The EMPRESS was packed out as the capacity crowd were in the mood for an evening of Oi. The ever popular cockney boys are Rebellion regulars and celebrated the anniversary with material from their Greatest Hits Vol 1 and 2. As Jeff ‘stinky’ Turner came flying onto stage like it was a boxing bout, he shadow boxed his way through most of the set. There were not many singers as animated as him all weekend. It was a busy Rebellion for Micky Geggus as well with him doing a book signing. It’s not long before they launched into “Flares ‘n’ Slippers” and Jeff berated the middle class punks that used to walk down the Kings Road in bondage before a cracking version of “We Are The Firm”. Jeff always has a lot of banter between songs and he was on form. The crowd were in full voice as they sang along to “I’m Not A Fool”. Jeff made it onto the barrier at the end of the set for a furious version of “Oi Oi Oi” and this signalled a stream of punks surfing over the barrier.

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[ngg src=”galleries” ids=”1225″ display=”basic_slideshow”]Over on the CASBAH, Wonk Unit played to another packed crowd. Not everyone’s cup of tea, but you can’t fault their ability to entertain. Behind the tongue in cheek approach, there is a serious side to the songs. Alex Wonk kicked off the set with what felt like a soundcheck and ended up being “Horses”. Like Jeff from the rejects, Alex has a lot of banter between songs. The crowd lapped them up and the party atmosphere matched the japes on stage.

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[ngg src=”galleries” ids=”1228″ display=”basic_slideshow”]It was another who’s who of rock ‘n’ roll in The OPERA House as Walter Lure had put together a band to play the seminal “The Heartbreakers – L.A.M.F” album. Mick Rossi (Guitar) threw some great guitar shapes as the band kicked off with “One Track Mind” and “All By Myself”. Tucked at the back on drums but certainly right up there in the mix, Mark Laff sporting a T shirt with L.A.F.F emblazoned in large bright pink letters on the front, a tongue in cheek nod to album. Joining Walter on bass was Nigel Mead. The crowd got what they wanted as Walter Lure outstretched his arm and pointed at them during “I Wanna Be Loved”. Mixed in with the iconic songs was a great version of the S.A.T.D’s “Situation” sung by Mick Rossi. Mid-set, Walter told the story of how the song “London Boys” was written in response to the Sex Pistols “New York”. Bringing the old songs bang up to date, Walter commented on the relevance of the next song, “Get Off The Phone”. The crowd’s reaction increased steadily throughout the set as the numbers kept coming. “Born To Lose”, Chinese Rocks” and “Too Much Junkie Business” went down a storm. The band couldn’t leave without an encore and “I’m Waiting for The Man” and “Let Go” did not disappoint.

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Decision time for me and I chose to stay in The OPERA House for The Godfathers. With Cock Sparrer in The EMPRESS, I was torn but no regrets. As it transpired, this was to be the final performance from this version of The Godfathers as Peter Coyne, very publicly, dissolved the band as it was. If ever there was a band on a mission today, you didn’t have to look any further. “Birth, School, Life, Death” opened the set and it was 10/10 for intensity from the first words out of Peter’s mouth. The songs actually end up describing their performance, with “This is War” and “Big, Bad, Beautiful Noise” best described what was going on. Steve Crittal was following on from Mick Rossi who had earlier stormed the stage with Walter Lure but Steve’s angular and visceral motions were far more menacing than his rock ‘n’ roll peers. It was a performance that would be later referenced as “I was there…….” High praise indeed for a band that were up against the headliners in The EMPRESS. As the subliminal messages in the songs continued, “If I Only Had Time” and “Til My Heart Stops Beating”, It would be a few days before we would realise that there would be no more performances by this incarnation of The Godfathers. Yet more irony in the song tiles as the penultimate number “Defibrillator” kicked the band into life before a well deserved encore of The Ramones “Blitzkreig Bop”. As a performance, blitzkrieg was a fair appraisal of what was a blistering, relentless show. 

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Tickets are available for Rebellion Festival 2020 now from the website. 

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Raymond Thomson - Deputy Editor

I am a photographer/musician/engineer living in Scotland. My passion is music and motocross and I share my work on facebook/punk4RT and facebook/madmaxmedia. I do like a bit of throw back to the heydays of the 60’s/70’s/80’s when it comes to taking shots of bands. I grew up on the music papers (NME/Sounds/Melody Maker) and drew influence from Pennie Smith/Jill Furmanovsky/Anton Corbijn/Bob Gruen/Adrian Boot/Charles Peterson.
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