The U.K. Subs are an English punk band, among the earliest in the first wave of British punk. Formed in 1976, the mainstay of the band has been vocalist Charlie Harper, originally a singer in Britain’s R&B scene. They were also one of the first street punk bands. The U.K. Subs were part of the original punk movement in England. The band formed in 1976, initially using the name the Subversives. The band’s founder, Charlie Harper stayed at the front while band members came and went over a period of time. They were initially called “U.K. Subversives”. The London-based band’s early line-up changed frequently.
Their style combined the energy of punk and the rock and roll edge of the then thriving pub rock scene. The band racked up a few hit singles such as “Stranglehold”, “Warhead”, “Teenage”, and “Tomorrow’s Girls”, with several of their songs managing to enter the United Kingdom’s Top Forty.
Another Kind of Blues
The tour overall was to mark the 40th anniversary of the release of the first album. The set promised the album in its entirety with a few extras thrown in. So, I am not going to go through the setlist, if you are here then in all probability you know the tracks already! Downstairs at The Hope and Ruin the members of the band gathered along with other known musicians. Charlie is always so happy to meet fans and have a selfie. He is not tucked away out of sight. He is out there meeting fans. Jordan was there, taking a break from her massive book tour for “Defying Gravity” and she gave Charlie a copy of the book. I did say I was going to “borrow” it if it was left anywhere in sight!
Steve Straughan is a great guitarist. When he plays you could be mistaken for thinking you were listening to two guitarists, and it was great to catch up with him after the show. Steve always has a load of things going on including the Hi-Fi Spitfires. On bass was Alvin Gibbs, dressed in a black shirt with a white finish, looking on point with his stunning white bass and delivered some damn fine fret work, he beat the hell out of his bass. He is also busy and about to embark on a tour with his Disobedient Servants. The man at the back is Jamie Oliver, who I was able to see this time around – no damned smoke machine this time! A quick chat about cameras and he was away to prep up for the set. He is also busy, and about to tour with Alvin. What a top performance from him, so much power and providing that link with the extraordinary bass playing from Alvin. These guys are tight and have been playing together as a solid unit for a while now.
Ok, so that’s the band… The band back from touring Europe playing to vast crowds are presently putting in a few UK dates, but they never stay still for long and are set to tour again.
Now me, I like a bit of chaos and the crowd, nicely warmed by 40 Shillings On The Drum, piled into The Hope and Ruin. The UK Subs had come back to Brighton, and I just had to see a punk icon in action, again with a damned fine punk band. This has to have been one of their most intimate shows of the tour, and it sold out in a heartbeat!
‘C.I.D’, ’I Couldn’t Be You’, ’I Live In A Car’, ’Tomorrows Girls’, ’Killer’, ’World War’, ’Rockers’
’I.O.D.’, ’TV Blues’, ‘Blues’, ’Lady Esquire’, ’All I Wanna Know’, ‘Crash Course’, ’Young Criminals’
’B1C’, ’Disease’, ’Stranglehold’ – and that marked the first album in full.
More UK SUBS
Charlie is in total control and leads the crowd as the mosh pit opened up, he holds the mic into the crowd to allow everyone to join in. He had told me to stick around at the front as it was gonna get a bit lively – he wasn’t wrong! I had to grab my camera and move! Charlie mentioned the Subs had supported the Ramones in 1980 between a couple of songs later in the set – and how the band had to help Joey off stage. I had forgotten that – I road-crewed for the Ramones and yes, even in 77 Joey was usually helped off the stage after a show.
To finish up, we were treated to a UK SUBS barn stormer of a finish – ’Emotional Blackmail’, ‘Limo Life’, ‘Warhead’, ‘Riot’, ‘Party In Paris’, ’Fragile’, ’You Don’t Belong’ and ’New York State Police’. Charlie with that ever youthful twinkle in his eye didn’t stop, no vanishing for 10 minutes. He was with his crowd for every second of the set. I think he had a riot of a time. The crowd loved every second, it got a bit lively down the front as fans were fuelled by the power of what was being played – and the band played up to that. An awesome UK SUBS display.
Feel the heat!
I can honestly say that The Subs weren’t just going through the motions tonight, they meant every word, every chord, every drumbeat. They bust themselves onto another level tonight, Charlie complaining about his knees! They looked, like us, that they were having a bloody great time. Huge smiles across the faces of the band as the sweat lashed down their faces.
I said at the top I enjoy a bit of chaos, well the bruises and ringing ears confirm, all in all, it was a bloody good raucous Sunday night. The guys nailed it and gave everyone a lesson in how to do it, and do it old school.
As I write this Mr Charlie Harpers 75th Birthday approaches. Charlie – a very Happy Birthday to you and I wish you well Sir! Always such a pleasure to talk with you. Keep doing it, keep the spirit alive and as Charlie said “You can play your records as many times as you like, but live is where its at, live is where its at” – Have a happy birthday Charlie. And thank you.
The UK SUBS are on Facebook
The UK SUBS are on the WWW
The night was hosted by We Love the Big Blue Shed – and they are on Facebook
Also Hope and Ruin – new lights at last – brilliant, and the sound was absolutely belting! Great job.
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