Rebellion Festival / R Fest – Blackpool, UK, Saturday 6th August 2022

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Rebellion Fest

Rebellion Festival / R Fest

Blackpool, UK - Saturday 6th August 2022

We start the day with a Punk Site meet up at the regular Rebellion meeting spot of the Rose & Crown as six, yes six, of our past and present contributors are here this weekend, feet aching, livers screaming but still we carry on. After the obligatory pint (any excuse) and team photo we splinter off into different stages at the start of day three. In the smoking area outside the Winter Gardens we see UK Subs legend Charlie Harper attempting to enter incognito in a wig via a security gate, given the number of selfies you see with Charlie over the Rebellion weekend this is understandable. However, we greet him with a cheery “afternoon Charlie” indicating it wasn’t a complete success! Charlie is followed by a man with several crates of onions, rumours that this was Alvin Gibbs are unconfirmed!

A relatively early set for perennial Rebellion favourites The Lee Harveys kick starts our day, they have a brand of straight-ahead punk power pop that has a very distinctive Celtic touch. There’s so much to love about this band. A lively, raucous set delivered with that distinctive casual insouciance that has become their trademark and a band who are so very distinctly, confidently Irish yet kind of universal.

Los Fastidios are a band that never disappoint at Rebellion, whether it be on this the Empress Ballroom stage at 1.30pm or on the Acoustic Stage, an almost full room for this early kick off proves this.  The italian Ska/Punk/Oi band have a breadth of songs that have you either skankin like you are 16 again, or chanting “Antifa Hooligan” right back at them, a socialist band that wears their heart on their sleeve and never backs down from this stance, to this end they always gather a loving crowd and entertain at the same time.

The first band of the day over at R Fest is Pete Bentham And The Dinner Ladies with new dinnerette Cantina Turner, and what a start, getting this early crowd going with their art punk rock and roll. All the songs we know and love are here, Hey Yuri, Goth Postman and Brick, but now we’re reminded You’ve Got To Work and so it’s off back into the Winter Gardens.

Having spent a very long time over the past few days in the Introducing Stage, it was only fitting that an earlyish entry was needed today, especially when a band like Go Go Ponies are there waiting to entertain and dumfound your head with a combination of Punk/Metal and a definite need for spreading the theatrical around the stage. Music that drives along yet still finds time to add a sense of dark theatre to the stage, looking like they have just walked in from a night at the local gym and boy do they all look fit!, not for everyone this band, but definitely for the broad minded.

We’re back out into Blackpool sunshine at R Fest for The Primitves. No preamble beyond some stirring Western film music. All the ingredients are here – jaunty guitar pop, perky vocals but there’s something not quite working. The second song disintegrates in technical difficulties and it’s going to take some top class recovery to get a restless R-Fest crowd back onside. And suddenly they’re back. The sound mix has had the whoompf button pressed and we’re back on track. It’s still a fairly low-intensity performance for a crowd that feels like it wants something more. Given the band’s pedigree and catalogue, this feels a little bit lacklustre, particularly in comparison with some of the other legacy acts that will grace this stage.

Headsticks are up next on the Pavillion Stage, a band from Stoke I believe, “someone has to be from Stoke” I think was the term.  A brand of rebellious punk that almost crosses over to Celtic Rock, but not quite, kinda makes them unique in sound, which is 100% a good thing.  If you have never been converted to the Headsticks, then you just simply weren’t there!, the crowd left knowing they had been fully encompassed in the bands love for mankind and their fight for equality.

David Delinquent has this Saturday early evening crowd in the palm of his hand for an open mic slot in what was the site of the Almost Acoustic stage. A Rebellion favourite and a born entertainer, he’s playing an acoustic set to an enthusiastic crowd and he’s harvesting the love in the room and turning this into a communion. Ever self-deprecating, David is a talent that needs a massive boost because he has it all. A natural showman and 200% likeable. Brilliant, as are his current outfit David Delinquent & The IOU’s who will hopefully grace a bigger stage next year.

We stay with the open mic stage for The Punk Site‘s very own resident punk poet. Cherry B tells it as it is and delivers her rhymes with a deceptively cutting edge, and she’s fucking brilliant. Stark, funny, political and no holds barred. Nothing is sacred and everything gets put to sword. Uncomfortably brilliant, particularly if you’re a Tory. Her cutting observations on modern life should be required listening for everyone.

After a full refuelling at the bar and of course at Dirty Blondes (not a strip joint) rather a hidden gem of a place that serves amazing Pizza and fries along with magical alcohol. Anyway it was time for Paranoid Visions on the Pavillion Stage, and this was a moment that had been long awaited, having Covid put amid to previous chances to catch this totally unique band. The Dublin maestros of mayhem were always going to be a band of the weekend and yes they were, with songs and music that air on the side of Crass meets The Adverts with a huge slice of sublime poetry to boot, and talking of the Adverts, TV Smith himself made an appearance to to seal the deal on a show that was unforgettable. As the band tore through their set we couldn’t help but be distracted by the dress of Aoife Destruction, and we found ourselves wondering if she was auditioning for Elizabeth!

The last time we caught Pop Will Eat Itself was back in the 80’s and 90’s at numerous festivals, we were far more wasted than we are now, something that was reflected by Pop Will Eat Itself being in a similar state at every festival we saw them at in that era. Today Pop Will Eat Itself are on form as they run through their hip hop infused back catalogue, worth noting that last nights impressive Deadbeat At Dawn owe a huge debt to Pop Will Eat Itself. They nail the 90’s festival vibe and are better than I remember them being, probably as neither of us is as intoxicated as we used to be, which probably helps somewhat. A triumphant Def Con One nails one of the R-Fest moments of the weekend, a glorious experience in the late afternoon sunshine. 

Over in the Empress Ballroom was the much anticipated Tribute To Mensi where the Angelic Upstarts band ran through a classic set of their tracks with a series of guest vocalists. After an initial less than impressive start with their first guest singer forgetting the words to 2 Million Voices, the band were quickly back on track albeit without their 2nd guest singer and had to perform Teenage Warning themselves. Then we had Rum Lad who if you closed your eyes could have been Mensi himself up there as he blew the crowd away with Tories and Leave Me Alone. Max Splodge, TV Smith, Patty Smith (Red London) and Chris Wright ran through their songs before the tribute ended with a great rendition of I’m An Upstart by the band and all of the vocalists, along with some of Mensi’s family. The great man will never be forgotten and we went away with a tear in our eye.

Rum Lad, who gets his second mention in as many paragraphs, follows up his appearance with the Angelic Upstarts with his solo Rebellion debut on the Introducing Stage, and he didn’t disappoint. If you wanted a working class punk hero then here he is, hitting the stage and the audience with a set of songs that make a welcome change, political, on point and spat at you like a machine gun. Rum Lad has made a strong impression today and has gained a lot of new fans, our man on the scene declared him to be one of the best new, relevant artists he’s seen in a long time.

A hugely anticipated performance from Peter Hook And The Light to a large and enthusiastic R-Fest crowd. Peter Hook is an unassuming front man, happiest behind his bass. His set is tailored to the old school punk faithful and his vocal invokes the spirit of those times past. But while this is necessarily a nostalgia set, these songs are vital and and still contemporary.  Manna for the faithful, stirring and exiting for those unfamiliar with his catalogue. Iconic. He ends with Transmission and, of course, Love Will Tear Us Apart and just for a moment, we were there.

We finally catch The Ramonas delivering their acoustic set, seeing them is now a Rebellion tradition, one we almost missed out on but we managed to catch their stripped back Almost Acoustic set of reimagined classic punk tunes. This is a Rebellion fixture celebrating one of the most influential punk bands of all time, and one that should always be caught in one form or another.

Entering the Introducing Stage again, was inevitable, and when its graced by a band that would make your Grandma weep, then it was always going to be a place to be at 10pm on a Saturday night, Bridge City Sinners are a Dark Folk Blues Rock band from the US of A.  What your not gonna get at a Bridge City Sinners gig is actual punk rock, but what you do get is a blend of all the good things in jazz, bluegrass, country and western and even a bit of honky tonk, this makes for a show that you’ll not forget in a hurry, with the vocals of Vic & Lauren, your fully dragged in and immersed in every word/note, the whole room filled with a sound and a sense of being that just carries you along and leaves you wondering where did the time go, it felt over before you ever wanted it to be.

A supergroup of sorts, The Godfathers are playing to a packed Pavilion which is quite the accolade considering the choice of bands available. This venue has consistently had the best sound of the indoor stages and The Godfathers are maximising the vibe. It’s a hugely polished set from these masters of blues rock punk and an ecstatic crowd are lapping up every short sharp slice. Party time, and no mistake, which is an appropriate given that the Saturday is traditionally our excess all areas day. Fucking ace.

Just when we needed something a bit calmer it was time to see John, the south London-based duo of John Newton (drums and vocals) and Johnny Healey (guitar). The volume drills directly into your inner ear, this bands sound is something to behold and (almost) beyond description, highly recommended.

Last up for the day is Bob Vylan making their Rebellion debut and they have been moved from the 1000 capacity Introducing Stage to the 3300 capacity Empress Ballroom, and for good reason, as it’s not far short of being full to capacity. Despite a very late night start this is a duo that people are talking about and need to see. All of their great tracks are covered including a blistering version of I Heard You Want Your Country Back and Wicked And Bad, the latter ended with the invitation of the Rebellion crowd to come up on stage, and did they just that, a suitably memorable end to Saturday.

Words by Phinky, Gary Hough, Mark Cartwright and Peter Hough with photography via Phinky, Mark Cartwright & Gary Hough. You can also read The Punk Site reviews of Thursday and Friday at Rebellion Festival / R Fest.