Chelsea and Rong ‘Uns: Prince Albert, Brighton – 08/04/2022
Gene October was back in town with Chelsea celebrating with a 40th anniversary tour! Guests were Rong ‘Uns. We had a blast in Brighton!
It was in August 1976 that Gene October placed an advert in Melody Maker which led to replies from guitarist William Broad, bassist Tony James and drummer John Towe. On October 18th they made their live debut as Chelsea supporting Throbbing Gristle at London’s ICA. It was at this time that Gene convinced the manager of gay London nightclub in Covent Garden called Shageramas, to convert the club into London’s first live punk rock venue called The Roxy – a fact for which he is given little credit. The band split in November 1976 where Gene briefly recruited guitarist Marty Stacey & bassist Bob Jessie. The other three former members formed Generation X. When Gene was asked about his former band colleagues he said “Generation X? Oh yeah they used to be in Chelsea.”
Gene, always enigmatic and hypnotising to watch, was on top form tonight. He stretched and pushed those vocal chords to the packed Albert who had come to see these guys play. Nic hit the stage and just blasted his cream SG at us – full tilt and then some. He didn’t stand still for the hour long set, and he always delivers a masterclass and puts on a great show. A top bass delivery from the brilliant Mat. He powered some great bass lines and the sound jostled your lower intestines as the bass hit you. Steve is at the back, on the kit. He delivered a great thundering punk, rock and roll percussion wall of sound for the band. He and Mat work seamlessly together. And set to the side of the stage was Rob armed with another set of electric strings. Put the five of them together and you just know you are in for one helluva ride!
Nic – Guitars, vocals and kick ass riffs via hi SG
Mat – heavy duty bass playing and vocals
Steve hammering the kit at the back. Strong stuff!
Rob Miller – Slung out guitars from the side of the stage
Gene – vocals, pouts and a strong yellow shirt, Chelsea’s frontman celebrating with a 40th anniversary tour !
Chelsea hit the stage at full tilt opening up with the track that was the reason for the tour and that had brought so many folk out on a Friday night, Evacuate, from 1981. Nic hitting the riff, drums and bass thunder in as Gene hit the stage. Wonderful and the “uh uh uh oh” chant. This is what we wanted! This was the first of some 18 tracks laid out for us tonight. Hell, that was awesome.
Everything about this particular Chelsea gig seems so fresh from the start and it is unlike any of the usual shows you might go to on a Friday night. It is both enlightening, and yet so nostalgic of the good ol’ days of punk – the late 70’s. Yes, we some of us maybe feeling a bit older too. Immediately upon entering the room, hearing Chelsea fire it up, I promise you they will wipe away the years. Now, they really have your attention, lets party it up!
I had been having a look through the merch desk, and it was a delight to see so many Chelsea albums available again on Vinyl! It is from that impressive catalogue that the songs were drawn tonight to deliver a truly impressive set list. The new album was there on coloured vinyl!
Songs: Evacuate – How Do You Know – Cover Up – Looks Right – War Across – Running Free – Last Drink
The set was on fire as the songs were fired at us in quick succession. Some chat from Gene and his trade mark “Did you like that one?” after many of the songs, which of course was answered en masse “yes!”
One thing that struck me during this gig, and as noted before, was the sense of camaraderie between all of the band members. They watched each other, bounced off each other and cracked the odd joke. But they looked to be having a damn good time, just as we were! Awesome show! Chatting with Nic before the show he said they hadn’t played together for a full on set in quite awhile thanks to the pandemic. This was the first night and they wanted to blow away the cobwebs! How do You Know was the second song tonight and was followed up with Cover Up. Gene absolutely powered at us for these as the band seemed to step it up it to match!
Songs: Only Thinking – Urban Kids – Meanwhile Gardens – Come On – No Flowers – I’m On Fire – No Ones Coming
Gene was up front and owning it totally, delivering a full on assault with his shouts of “Come On” and the assembled crowd at The Prince Albert joining in, as Gene also shared out the microphone to the crowd for that one.
Also great to chat with the guys and see them back out there, as Brighton was the first date of their tour and so glad they had avoided COVID! Chatting with drummer Steve he reminded me that he has been playing drums in the band since 2018. He was previously part of the road crew since 2012 before he joined “full time” and therefore he knew how the band worked. Mat and Steve could put a great book together! The stories!!
The drums powering through the sound supporting the guys up front delivering the Chelsea message. Another top tune No Flowers came at us hard and fast. The title track from the new album Meanwhile Gardens was awesome, and so good to hear it live. The biting No Ones Coming Outside was next on the list. Stunning live rendition of a true classics.
Songs: Come On – No Flowers – I’m On Fire – No Ones Coming – The Loner
Just check out that line up of Chelsea anthems! The crowd chanting anthemic belters we have known for years and have come to love. Chelsea delivered those tunes with all that youthful gusto and vigour we love them for.
These guys will give you a performance. It will be full of energy and neither the material or band members showing any sign of slowing down. Chelsea are a unique treasure, full of power and a unique swagger of their own. Chelsea have given the Punk movement more than a fair share of anthems and this includes the magnificent “Right To Work”. Great to see Nic and Mat kick the air, matching Gene with their blue steel pout, add to chorus vocals and otherwise beat seven bells out of the guitars. The band just do it all with unique style and character. They just don’t make em or write them like that any more.
Talking with Gene after the show, he was really happy how the evening had gone. What a great crowd and he noted, considering Steve Ignorant/Crass were playing at Concorde 2 on the same night, he was really happy with the numbers. And he did shout out to the late arrivals who had obviously thrashed it up the road from Concorde 2 to catch the last 30 mins of Chelsea.
Songs/encore: No Admission – Right To Work
Click on photo to enlarge.
If you are reading this and if you were not a Chelsea fan, you’ll definitely be convinced now! Come see them play! Chelsea played a set that impressed the hell out of me again. And yes I am pretty sure that if they can keep up with such a high standard of old and new material backed with a supreme performance I would be more than happy to pay, and go see them again, and again, and again…..
Chelsea – They Rock!
Chelsea are on the WWW
Chelsea are on Facebook
Well played Chelsea – we all had an absolute blast! Come back soon!
The Rong ‘Uns
The Rong’uns formed in 1997. A couple of line-up changes over the next 18 months the band eventually ended up as a three piece band. Then in 2017 to mark the 20 anniversary of the band forming they reformed.
Now, imagine yourself in venue, almost hidden under a railway archway somewhere… Its a gritty, recently revamped venue, which for one night only, is going to be home for a few punks and rockers to witness Chelsea and their guests Rong ‘Uns. Top it all off with a pretty decent sound system and some shady lighting. To set the tone and atmosphere you really need a punk assed punk outfit. We had the Rong ‘Uns, and, as it turned out, they were a perfect choice.
The band features Robber Byker on bass and vocals – (Gaye Bykers on Acid)
It is rare to find a truly interesting or indeed exciting support act to fit the bill. We had Rong ‘Uns and oh boy did do the job! What started off the evening was a performance from the Rong ‘Uns which really does make the event feel like the audience is going to be part of something from back in the day and underground. While the name conjures images of yet another hardcore band, surprisingly what you get is a blisteringly hard, fresh and fast punk outfit. The blasted us with a gloriously loud and interesting set.
The fired up set included a rocking “intro” and into the set proper with Social Control, Bad Advice and Johnny Boy.
Damn these guys were loud and fast. Pinpoint bass layers and some of the finest fresh punk/rock guitar riffs I have heard in a while. And the band kept in tight with the man at the back on drums. This was a jaw droppingly good set.
Other tunes in the set included Trapped, Cold Sweat and also a ramped up take on Sonic Reducer. Damn that was good!
Click on image to enlarge
Thanks Rong ‘Uns – really enjoyed that. Hope you can get back here again soon. My ears are still nipping!
The Rong Uns are on Facebook.
Thanks to all the guys in Chelsea and The Rong ‘Uns.
Words: Ian Bourn. Photos: Ian Bourn.
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