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Scotland’s Cultural Capital gets some Counterculture from Ruts DC

Scotland’s capital city, the home of culture, saw Ruts DC bring their “Counterculture” to a packed venue filled with hungry punters wanting to experience some new material from the legendary punk patrons.

The Ruts have been spreading their “People Unite” message for over 40 years and they have united a great number with their love of music and positive action. Since the reformation in 2011, Ruts DC have continued to raise awareness through music to the disenchanted. The critically acclaimed new album “Counterculture” was released on 11th November, a day where the nation paused to reflect on the fallen, this gave Ruts DC fans the chance to relish the rich, subtly insightful critique of modern culture. The “Faces in the Sky – Counterculture” 13 date tour began at its furthest south point in Exeter and it reached its furthest north point in Edinburgh one week later.

TV Smith has had a busy year and a regular visitor to Scotland. It had only been a few weeks ago that he played with his band, The Bored Teenagers supporting the original line up of The Damned. There were no bored teenagers in the building to watch TV Smith, armed with his trusty acoustic. Tim’s timeless tunes have been a soundtrack for many and the biggest response from the crowd were The Adverts songs. His song writing and insightful lyrics have had audiences mesmerised with “Expensive Being Poor” and “Immortal Rich”. The enforced pandemic lockdown gave Tim the chance to write and his “Lockdown Holiday” album has realised a number of new songs in the set. The responsive crowd gave Tim a good send off as he signed off with “Gary Gilmore’s Eyes”.

There were a handful of lucky fans in the venue to catch the soundcheck and meet the band behind closed doors. The meet and greet format is nothing new but Ruts DC had enhanced the package by offering promo copies of their new album and other merchandise offerings which was a nice touch.

The venue was packed by the time the band appeared. It was Ruffy up first, slipping carefully behind his kit as he had to negotiate the tight space. Segs strolled across the wide stage in Edinburgh pointing to the familiar faces in the crowd before he started with “Faces in the Sky” from the new album. Leigh Heggarty’s crushing guitar matched the pulsating beats of Ruffy and Seg’s punchy bass. The signature Ruts sound is embedded in the new material and they have never sounded better. All the boxes were ticked with the album and set opener. There’s an obvious link between the opening song and one of their earliest songs “S.U.S”. The delivery maybe different but the content and message was similar.

The new material was woven throughout the set. Carefully placed between the sustainable set favourites, they curiously blend in and stand out. “X Ray Joy” gave me the impression the time spent with The Stranglers on tour had given them some inspiration as musically, it resembled the recent song writing of the meninblack. The pace reduced but intensity maintained with “Dangerous Minds”. Segs cutting vocals hung in the ether with Leigh’s guitar licks. The bands last album has been surpassed with their latest material but it still provided three killer tracks. “Kill The Pain” being one of them and judging by the response, it’ll be in the set for some time to come.

There will always be room for fans favourites and my personal mid-set memorable moment was “West One”. The huge expanse of the bands sound is still one of the attractions and Paul Fox’s guitar sound is wonderfully replicated by Leigh Heggarty’s mastery. The urgency of the new album was seen with a live rendition of the title track “Counterculture” but was then offset with “Born Innocent”. Both tracks demonstrate the diversity of the delivery and self-awareness of the band and that they are in touch with society and the need for humanity in these desolate times. “Jah War” was the epitome of The Ruts when it was released and it still feels fresh to this day. The spirited performance was encapsulated perfectly. If you could bottle the essence of a Ruts DC gig, you’d do it during “Jah War”.

The title track of the bands last album sounded imperious as Segs shouted “Fuck you I won’t do what you tell me” as “Music Must Destroy” did its best to educate and inspire. Segs intimated it would be “plain sailing” after another new song, “Poison Games” but meantime, the new albums influence was never bettered by the guitar work from Leigh on the dark anthemic track.

The Ruts had an incredible catalogue of successful punk singles and the top three standouts closed out the set. “Something That I Said” kicked it off but “In A Rut” absolutely stole the show. The recent passing of Nik Turner (Hawkwind), Keith Levine (PiL) and Wilko Johnson (Dr Feelgood) saw the band pay their respects by playing excerpts from “Silver Machine”, “Public Image” and “Roxette” during the song. Not just a fitting tribute but an incredible mash of melodies and an amazing memorable tribute to their fallen friends and peers.

No gig would be complete without “Babylon’s Burning”. The crowd’s exuberance overflowed to the stage as Segs, Ruffy and Leigh took their leave waving and clapping in acknowledgement.

As the band returned to the stage, Segs jokingly referred to the crowd as “Pretty Lunatics” and the band played the final number from their new album. A classic anthemic reflective sing along song with a 90’s vibe to it. Bit of a detour from the Ruts DC songbook but it might even intrigue others to explore more if they hear it. The mellow vibe was rudely interrupted with the ever present “Staring at the Rude Boys” precededing the set closing “Psychic Attack”.

With a new album under their belt and a solid headline tour in full flow, Ruts DC are here and at the fore-front of punk, reggae, dub or however you see them fit into your world but one thing is for sure, they unite people and leave their audience wanting more, which is always a good feeling. Someone asked me what my favourite Ruts gig was, my answer now is my next one!

Catch Ruts DC live as the tour continues;

28/11- Sheffield – O2 Academy

29/11- Bristol – Thekla

30/11- Nottingham – Rescue Rooms

02/12- Birmingham – Institute

03/12- London – Islington O2 Academy

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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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