Having bought tickets for Rebellion 2020 back in 2019 and having held onto them through the pandemic it was great to finally get to use the tickets at this year's festival, a very welcome return to Rebellion, the organizers Darren and Jenny and there team deserve the thanks of everyone who attended, this always amazingly well run festival, alongside the brilliant staff at The Winter Gardens and in the R-Fest arena that was on the Promenade by the Blackpool tower this year for the first time. This review will feature as much guesswork on song titles as the other three parts.
Day three started with our traditional pilgrimage to the central pier and go on the big wheel, the pier was about the busiest we've ever seen it, by the time we got into the Winter Gardens it was time to go into the Empress Ballroom to see Los Fastidios full electric set that as ever was packed and great fun from them singing about the Blue Beat Boy and there brilliant version of Last train To Skaville that becomes the last train to Skankingtown in there capable hands. The bands social conscious was to the fore on Take A Stand. Johnny And The Queer Boot Boys was brilliantly bouncy, and being sung in Italian may have fooled the odd homophobe, as ever Antifa Hooligans got the biggest pit and sing along of the set. Not sure what either of the last songs of the set were but damn as ever they sound great.
We then went over to the Pavilion in time to see Jarrow's finest Crashed Out play a totally in your face set of Skinhead punk with Chris Wright stalking the stage as they belted out Against All Odds and showed they really meant that they are Here To Stay. The new song Urban Zoo isn't afraid to point out what's wrong with some people, a theme that carried on in The Chancer, they sounded fearsome on a super speedy Hypocrisy before paying tribute to the bands hometown on The Town That Died and then as ever they got everyone to sing Raise Ya Glasses before they sprinted through the Jarrow Song that had the normal guitar solo by Lee Wright played while sitting on his brother Chris shoulders before blasting through Coz I Feel and thanking everyone they can, as always a total blast.
We then went back into the Empress Ballroom for 999 to continue to be one of the only bands to have played every Rebellion or it's earlier Holidays In The Sun incarnation. They opened with Inside Out and sounded just like normal on Shoot before playing a cool, version of Hit Me, thankfully Nicky did most of the in-between song talking and Arturo never told any jokes this time, that meant we really were feeling Alright With The Crew once more. Easily one of the oddest titled songs of the weekend was My Dad Trashed My Submarine a great song mind. As ever Boys In The Gang went down a storm and they kicked the new football season off with The Biggest Prize In Sport and tried to ignore the truth on I Don't Wanna Know. After the pandemic Emergency seems to have taken on new meaning, they may have found some new contenders for Nasty Nasty. A huge pit opened up for Homicide before they closed with the rather poignant I'm Alive which was something everyone at Rebellion were celebrating this time.
We stayed in the ballroom for Gimp Fist and spent the time between bands talking with Nobby from Deadbeat At Dawn who was most entertaining while promoting his band who we'd already missed playing.
Gimp Fist started by singing about the Place I Belong and soon dedicated Working Class to everyone at Rebellion they also played a few new songs including Don't Be A Faker that had a great bassline from the second Chris Wright we saw playing that day. Johnny Robson made sure we all knew how much Common Ground we all share, while telling us to Follow Our Beliefs. As ever First In Line was a mass sing along, pretty everyone also sang the chorus to Heart Full Of Pride as they Keep Marching On by playing new song Poisonous that slotted in perfectly. Victory kept everyone smiling and Too Young To Die was dedicated to everyone we lost during the pandemic before they closed with a rousing Here I Stand.
We decided to stay in the ballroom for The Last Resort and I soon realised why I'm not a fan of theirs as from the opening Survival Of The Skinhead they were far to aggro skinhead for my liking coming across like the sort of guys I spent my youth running away from and Out On The Lash did nothing to dispel the sort of feeling of dread and impending violence rising in me, even having Lars Frederiksen on guitar didn't help, so that we decided going for something to eat would be preferable to hearing any more of these very old school Rebels With A Cause, later in the festival I spoke to at least one Skinhead who thought they were the best band he saw all Rebellion, even though he admitted to only seeing 5 bands over the 4 days!!
We were nicely refreshed by the time we got to the Spanish Hall to see Pauline Murray playing solo acoustic she opened with Shadow In My Mind and soon had us all Drifting Away and she thanked us all for coming to see her, as she reminisced on When We Were Young and played a very cool version of Guilty, Dark Clouds didn't fit with the blue skies outside but sort of fit the decor of the Spanish hall, always great to hear her singing Dream Sequence and it took her a couple of attempts to get the opening of Don't Dictate right, or close enough for punk, before she closed with Beat Goes On and Robert Blamire came on to take her acoustic guitar.
We then walked down to the promenade and the R-Fest Stage for Peter Hook & The Light and it was well strange seeing him playing in daylight, obviously a far shorter show than the three hour extravaganza I saw at Brixton Academy just under a month earlier. They opened with No Love Lost and it was dark and imperious, Leaders Of Men had a great bass rumble to it, Digital got the first big cheer and sing along from the big crowd who loved Isolation while standing in a crowd of thousands. They soon had us all getting that feeling on Disorder. As ever She's Lost Control felt poignant and rather fraught. Shadowplay had the Blackpool Tower's long shadow looming over it, so that hearing New Dawn Fades just as dusk was arriving helped add to the incongruity of them playing outside rather than in the black hole of Club Casbah. Hooky seemed to be having loads of fun even as he sang Dead Souls and Twenty Four Hours and took us right back to Warsaw, things felt totally goth on Failures and the bass just hit home on These Days, Ceremony was the only New order song they played, everything else was Joy Division songs and it was as dancey as they got. They then had a huge sing along finale of Transmission and Love Will Tear Us Apart but unlike at Brixton this didn't have as much of a breakdown and the audience didn't just carry on singing when the music broke down.
We then went back into The Empress Ballroom for Cock Sparrer who opened with Riot Squad as a huge pit opened up and the guitars meshed on Watch Your Back and they got lots of fists pumping for Working. Teenage Heart showed what a great Skinhead Power pop punk band they still are and One By One they got us all singing by asking a question we all now know the answer too What's it Like To Be Old. Argy Bargy reminded us both of the bad old days and of course of the band named after the song. Gonna be Alright seems like a good message coming out of the Pandemic and in the times we currently live in. Tough Guys brought out the bands sentimental side before everyone was fist pumping for A.U.
Runnin Riot was the second song of the set that has a band named after it that says a lot about how influential Cock Sparrer really are. I Got Your Number was about as soft as they ever get while they tried to remember how they were back when they wrote Because You're Young. Colin made sure we all knew that Take Them All was dedicated to all the politicians that he wants put up against a wall. Where Are They Now? Was for anyone who told them that they should go and get proper jobs and yes after 50 years together as a band Cock Sparrer really is for life. Suicide Girls was a bit of a rampage before just about everyone sang along to England Belongs To Me and they closed a great set with Were Coming Back and at this point who would argue with them.
We then went to the Pavilion for a super rare chance to see Sex Gang Children live, the current re-animated line-up features Andi Sex Gang and Rob Stroud with John Rigby and Jerome Alexandre who is the perfect guitarist for them, from the opening Manners Maketh The Man they were dark foreboding goth but with Andi's rather screeching vocals, Times Of Our Lives seemed to threaten darkness and dread.
Vigilante was the first song to feature the violinist who added a slightly more ethereal feel as things got darker and nastier on Casting Couch. Walk Away seemed an easier option than it might have actually bee, as Andi was singing about a Fake Virgin and Jerome's guitar just brought out the pain and sorrow in the lyrics in time for the bands recent single Death Mask Mussolini that still has that early 80's goth sound, they closed with a brilliant version of Sebastiane but for me the music was far better than Andi's vocals.
Then as there had been a couple of line-up changes I went and saw the end of Death Trails playing to a fairly sparse crowd in the Empress Ballroom where the young trio's brand of Cheap Thrills and L7 influenced grunge punk sounded pretty good.
We were in The Ballroom to see Bob Vylan whose set had been moved from the far smaller Arena and by the time they came on at 1.15 am the Ballroom was at least two thirds full, as Bobby and Bobby started by doing some stretching and calisthenics before Bobby on the drums and samplers fired things up as they asked Big Man where are you going while sounding like a cross between Boo Ya tribe and Rage Against The Machine with a splash of the Beatnigs, Bobby the singer made sure we all knew just how independent and DIY they are, and as I regularly talk to Bobby the drummers dad I know how hard they have worked, as I'm A Fool got everyone going and they then pointed out everything wrong with Elvis. I loved the bile ridden brexit anthem You Want Your Country Back. The intro to Northern Line was pretty funny even if the experiences in the song weren't. Bobby tried to find out how many people in the ballroom found out about the band from 6 music before they played Fuck The BBC before they tried to encourage us all to Wage War Against The State, they then made sure we knew what it was like to be young and black in England on We Live Here which was the song that broke them and had a huge mosh pit too.
Phone Tap had just enough of a paranoid edge to it as the drums got more brutal before they laid waste to our failing society on Englands Ending, they then skewered the idea that they should sing Pretty Songs as if! Then for a finale they invited everyone on stage with them for Wicked And Bad and they had a packed stage of fans moshing as the rest of the ballroom was, this was a brilliant end to a great day at Rebellion and we staggered off to our B & B not quite believing we had managed to stay till 2 in the morning.