Its only Department S! Department S are a British post-punk/new wave band formed in 1980, who took their name from the 1960s TV series Department S.They are best known for their debut single, “Is Vic There?”, now touring with the new material and of course….the older songs. Department S unpacked their cases, plugged in, and gave us a great show in London 15.09.2018.
Looking back Department S possessed everything that should have made them one of the bigger music acts of the 1980s. A strong band and an equally strong sound. But it wasn’t to happen for them sadly. Department S are a British post-punk/new wave band formed in 1980, they took their name from the 1960s TV series Department S. They are best known for their debut single, “Is Vic There?”, which was originally released in December 1980 and reached No. 22 on the UK Singles Chart the following year. A new Department S full-length album, When All Is Said and All Is Done, produced by Pete Jones, was released by Westworld Recordings in May 2016. In 2017, the band released the 45 Revolutions: Singles 1980 – 2017 compilation on Westworld.
- Eddie Roxy vocals
- Pete Jones – bass, backing vocals
- Phil Thompson – guitar, backing vocals
- Alan Galaxy – drums
The band had been added as a support on many of The Rezillos gigs across the UK during the autumn 2018 tour. I have to say that the mix was an inspirational choice – the two bands complimented each other perfectly.
You have to shake off any preconceptions you may have and move on from their best known, and much loved song, “Is Vic There?” which I think nearly everyone knows. It is actually quite a “different” song now and blends in perfectly with the rest of the set, these guys set the record straight from the first chord. They were on a mission.
The guys hit the stage with Eddie stage center and head bowed as Phil and Pete took up their positions and Alan sat behind his kit. The drums were really high on a riser so it was good to be able to see the drums being played! Just needed a bit more light on him 229!
Kings of the World opened up the set from from the Album When All Is Said and All Is Done. Now, admission time, I had not seen these guys before – not sure how that happened but it will not happen again! What an opener as Eddie suddenly sparked into life grabbing his mic as Phil, Pete and Alan hit us with an instant attention grabbing rock and roll sound. Oh my! This was going to be special. Pete in his gold embroidered jacket strode the stage reaching into the crowd with his bass guitar, and with a huge smile, he licked his lips. The bass rhythm on the opening song is awesome as is the riff being played by Phil. Alan from up on high was working hard and delivering, as he does, a masterclass on percussion and worked tirelessly with Pete laying down that rhythm structure.
The rather catchy On My Own Again was up next and then into I want. At this point Spizz Energi had made his way to the front of the crowd and set off a confetti canon! The band was lost in a ticker tape parade of coloured paper ribbons. “There’s always one!” said Eddie – brilliant. The band laughed it off in good humour. We also had the mighty fine Going Left Right, some fine vocals on this from the band and the crowd who were well up for these guys.
The brilliant, razor-sharp guitars from Phil pierce the rhythm. Jacket removed he bounced across the stage and provided some high acrobatic jumps from the drum platform all the while hooking our ears with some brilliant riffs. He and Eddie interacting and all the while providing some fine vocals.
I want (a big hit in Europe but it didn’t register as such in the UK), Sonic Reducer ( originally a Dead Boys track), Going Left Right, Wonderful Day, fired at us in quick succession as the opening chords welcomed in Is Vic There?, I don’t think many folk have not heard this song and the packed sold out 229 The Venue surged up and joined in. Perfectly delivered by Department S. It is probably one of the shorter songs of the set, but hell it was great to hear it live after all this time and for the first time. I loved what the guys had done with it – moving it up a notch from its original incarnation. Up next was I Believe.
Eddie standing perfectly still, looking into the crowd between each song and as the band fired up the last song of the set, an uptempo scorcher When All IS Said and All Is Done.
The sound mix for Department S was spot on, allowing each of the band members to shine. Pete powers through the whole session with a smile and some heavy duty bass playing. The charismatic Eddie in his suit giving a brilliant performance. Phil providing the ear bursting guitars, riffs and the moves. At the back Alan keeping his gaze on the band members and keeping it all tight.
The band have done a few covers in the past. Didn’t get those versions tonight from the Department S archives – in the past they have covered My Coo Ca Choo (Alvin Stardust) and Solid Gold Easy Action (T REX), but this was a limited time guest slot.
A short clips mixer. Is Vic There? Watch and find out!
This was a fabulous 40 minute set, Vic was there with a few hundred people! Department S left the stage to tumultuous cheers and applause as bass and guitars were lifted into the air, they deserved it. Department S have created a high level of performance and sound delivering a top, unique show made up of new and old material.
They are certainly worth checking out.
Well done to the fine folk from the wonderful AGMP for putting on the night and promoting it. You can find them on the web – here!
Please note all original images / video are copyright, please do not copy. If any of the featured artists/promoters/venues want copies of the images – or more if available – please just get in touch.
All original pictures / video – copyright to IANB/MEDIA WORKS/ SCENE SUSSEX – Ian “The Lens” Bourn 2018.
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