Penetration/John Cooper Clark/Stiff Kittens
Manchester, Electric Circus
Bottom of the bill THE STIFF KITTENS are performing their first public performance and, although they've already advertised themselves as Stiff Kittens, they've suddenly changed their name to "Warsaw." The group is lan Curtis on vocals, Bernard Dicken on guitar, Peter Hook on bass and newcomer Tony Tabac on drums (he's been in the group less than forty-eight hours). Warsaw will go through two names before finding fame. First as Joy Division, then when their lead singer dies in '80, they change their name and style and eventually find world-wide success as New Order in the '80s.
For the full gig review see below...
return their roots and play Guilford Civic Hall tonight.
TOM ROBINSON BAND
London, Inst. Of Contemporary Arts
Subway Sect and The Slits play Chelmsford, Chancellor and are joined by the Prefects who stand in for the Buzzcocks are added to the bill.
play the second night at Hammersmith Odeon, London tonight
play Croydon Greyhound tonight.
Buzzcocks/Penetration/John Cooper Clark/Stiff Kittens
Manchester, Electric Circus
SCENE. Middle-class, middle-aged (well, over 20), has-been rocker sent off to review punk gig. Can he stand it? Ummm . . . But can he understand it? Doubtful, doubtful. But for what it's worth, the first act Stiff Kittens a.k.a. Warsaw a.k.a. whatever-they're-called-next-week rate zero even on my Mary Whitehouse odorometer. The guitarist must be some refugee from a public school, the neatest thing about the bassist is his headgear and the singer has no impact whatsoever. By the fifth number or so they can just about put together a coherent riff, but I don't think even the most demented headbanger could get off to this. Someone tells me it's their first gig. So let's pass over the rest. Next, please.
And next happens to be the poet, John Cooper Clark. This isn't a poetry column, but whoever programmed this gig deserves a medal, for Clark is a local genius, normally found at Stuffy arts gathering. Yet his lines have the same attack of Rotten or Strummer, with the advantage of a sense of metre and a polysyllabic vocabulary. Plus the fact that he knows what he's talking about. He could be a revelation for the blank generation. 'You Never See A Nipple In The Daily Express' is an acid and deadly put down of all that the establishment stands for: ignorance, double-standards and hypocrisy. For 'Salome At The Ritz' we have a floor show. 'Salome', dark mac and white shades, strips off as the story progresses, revealing herself ... to be a boy. The kids at front don't believe it. 'Salome' toys with a can of Heinz Spagetti. Someone throws beer at his/her genitals and she wraps spaghetti around their lapels.
Then we have penetration. No, Penetration, from Durham. Lift-off. This band are killers. There's a she-vixen of a singer with a great voice, a guitaist with a superb feel for dynamics and some totally original licks quite unlike anyone else you care to name. The bassist, who's about 6'6" and the drummer play hard, fast and never miss a lick. In comparison with say the Pistols, on their first visit to this town 9 months-ago, Penetration are way, way ahead. They could knock a ferret dead at six paces. A & R men, please note.
Finally we read the Buzzcocks. They lack the technical sturm und drang of Penetration, but then this isn't what the Buzzcocks are about. They don't so much parodise the hoopla and hype that surrounds the New Wave, merely ignore it. Pete Shelley writes teen-anthems. With his mock-leopardskin top and sawn off Woolies guitar, you can tell the guy has a sense of humour. Especially when halfway through the set he has to borrow some string for his guitar. 'Orgasm Addict', 'Fast Cars', 'Breakdown' and 'Oh! Shit' are simple (but not dumb) vignettes drawn from life today but about the other side of life for kids everywhere. And then there's the classic 'Boredom', with that classic two note solo. It's a pity though that the limitations of their equipment don't seem, on this evening at least, to let the subtleties shine through, for the other 'Cock: aren't merely a vehicle for Shelley. Collectively, Buzzcocks (the others are Garth on bass, Steve Diggle on rhythm and John Maher on drums) have real Northern Soul, y'know, and they're streets ahead of any of the other Manchester New Wave 'Devolution' (sic) you may have read about elsewhere.
But is there understanding south of Potters Bar? Parlez-vous Salford?
(lan Wood - Sounds June 18th 1977)