Live Review: The Crash Mats / Crushed Veneer / Sally Pepper / Tio Rico – The Blossoms, Stockport, UK, 6th April 2019

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The Crash Mats / Crushed Veneer / Sally Pepper / Tio Rico

The Blossoms, Stockport, UK - 6th April 2019

Two weeks ago we covered the first concert in Stockport I’d attended in over three decades, there is now more evidence that this southern satellite of Manchester has its own punk scene, something that’s reinforced by The Drones also playing a show in the town centre this evening. Tonight we’re at The Blossoms pub, a venue that had the misfortune to have its name hijacked by a rather bland local pop band, that lies on the edge of the town centre for another quartet of punk bands in the shape of two local outfits, Tio Rico and The Crash Mats, Blackpool’s Sally Pepper and Crushed Veneer, who’ve made the long journey from London.

Tio Rico kick of tonight’s bill of springtime punk rock with a set that veers between hardcore, pure unfiltered punk rock and a touch of fuzzed out grunge, the two front men have turned up in matching Horn & Hoof Records t-shirts, apparently this is an accident and “not because they’re dorks” but whether they are or not doesn’t matter, they provide a welcome opening blast to tonight’s show, one that reminds me I’ve forgotten my ear plugs and probably won’t hear much of anything for the next few days. Tio Rico foolishly gave control of the smoke machine to the crowd, something that saw them regularly disappear in a cloud, regardless Tio Rico played a set that showcased new songs as well as material from their previous singles and Business And Pleasure EP, and on the basis of tonight’s show it looks like being a good summer for Tio Rico.

Next up is Sally Pepper who is celebrating the release of her latest, and most impressive, EP, Real World. Tonight she is the playing solo, what her set lacks in decibels it makes up for with the passionate punk pop that was the hallmark of her latest release. Sally Pepper’s set veers across the that last seven years, that have revealed seven releases, and encompasses everything from pop punk to folk punk, all of which has a disarming pop sensibility that adds to the charm of the material. Sally Pepper reveals that two of the tracks on her new EP are about a person she despises, she also announces that he’s bought of a copy of the EP, as she accurately put it “what a cock”, before launching into the tracks about him. Sally Pepper’s style is in contrast to the other acts on tonight’s bill but she gets the same rousing reception and the audience provide their own handclap percussion for part of her set.

London’s Crushed Veneer take the penultimate slot on tonight’s bill and like every other band on tonight’s line up they bring another strand from the wide wide world of punk to The Blossoms. Crushed Veneer open with raw overdriven punk rock that steadily grows in intensity over their short intense set. One of the joys of attending provincial punk shows is discovering new bands, tonight Crushed Veneer take that role with a set of raw gruff yet melodic punk rock that sits somewhere in between Husker DuThe Gaslight Anthem and The Thermals and balances and conrasts infectious blasts of power pop against their hardcore and punk rock influences, including their latest single, Denial. As with every other act tonight they showcase new material, although it must be said that their set is all new to most of tonight’s crowd, but I doubt this will be the case when Crushed Veneer next return to Manchester, tonight they delivered a perfect set that will have seen them make a lot of friends in the North.

Finally we go from the sublime to the ridiculous, and I mean this in a good way, as The Crash Mats close tonight’s show with their own brand of chaotic punk rock, short sharp humorous punk rock, that unlike many ‘comedy’ punk bands is actually funny, that covers everything from “arseholes who to gigs with massive backpacks” through to Police Academy 4, which is apparently “the greatest film in the world”, to accidentally getting someone high in Amsterdam and watching daytime soap operas when high, unsurprisingly they announce they are “high as fuck” and ask for understanding from the crowd. The Crash Mats announce they have a new EP In the works, true to form they reveal a new track dedicated to 80’s cop movies where the DA is on your ass. The Crash Mats are irreverent punk rock that doesn’t take itself even remotely seriously and as much as I enjoyed their last album it’s live where The Crash Mats are truly at their best.

Tonight’s The Blossoms has revealed itself to be a venue has changed beyond all recognition from the one I remember that hosted dismal folk nights when I lived in this area. Tonight it teamed up with Horn And Hoof Records for a showcase of four bands with an array of different influences and styles that has seemlessly blended into a memorable night, the crowd were as friendly, open and welcoming as I’ve encountered, and when you consider that tonight was a free entry show you really should have been here, and after years of avoiding Stockport I think that I’ll be returning to my roots a bit more often if more nights like this are on offer.

Live photography is by Scott Bradley, his Phukin Photos website is located here and you can click on any of Scott’s photos to view a slide show of the images

The Horn And Hoof Records website is here and their Bandcamp is here

Tio Rico‘s website can be found here

Sally Pepper is on Bandcamp, Facebook, Instagram, Spotify and Twitter

Crushed Veneer can be found on Facebook here and Bandcamp here

The Crash Mats are lurking on Facebook here and Twitter here