Review Of The Month: September 2017.

Esquires Bedford.

The very first barnstorming gig of the month arrives on Saturday 9, it’s an ‘old skool’ punk night headlined by a ‘version’ of Sham 69. I use that word advisedly, because the legendary seventies punk band now have two working bands using the famous old name. Our musical visitors on this show did not unfortunately include Jimmy Persey, or indeed Dave Parsons. They are instead, the quite longstanding Tim V incarnation. Amongst its ranks and perhaps giving this band some semblance of credibility are longtime drummer Ian Whitewood, as well as guitarist Neil Harris. The latter infact was an original member of Sham 69 when it was formed way back in 1976. He only lasted a year, before Jimmy fired everybody and assembled what everyone would know as the familiar hit making Top Of The Pops line up. If you can disregard the fact that they do produce a set played with more conviction and sweaty energy than a band this long in the tooth should rightly be capable of. The old time punks in attendance (including a few Sweedish visitors) are out for a party and they certainly get one. Tim V cajoles everyone throughout and finishes with a blast of the Sham 69 greatest hits that everyone knows and loves. On a much better note for this reviewer, was the gig’s support band who were called Snide. Fronted by Lou, who sang from the venues wooden floor area, this Maidstone based punk band really impressed me. Especially so with the rather tongue in cheek, express paced song Miserable Bitch!

The first mainstage sold out show in September not surprisingly arrived on Friday 15. This is when The Ouse Valley Singles Club pitched up on stage and these included Central Heating Skank, Man Flu and of course Girl From The Fens! To this list we can now add the most potent of all, it’s called Spunky Dave! T-shirts of this song title are worn with pride by many of the crowd. With the more obscene Kunt And The Gang now sadly a distant memory, its good that a band can compose naughty lighthearted songs that, in these troubled times give broad minded adults a damn good laugh plus a jaunty folky tune to tap a foot or nod a head to. Entertainment with these skiffle based musicians was guaranteed. Closure was inevitable with the curfew song of Kicking Out Time!

A gig that I had been eagerly anticipating finally arrived on Friday 22 it was back on May 31 2013 when I witnessed in Holy Molys Esquires, a performance to live long in the memory of everyone fortunate enough to witness it. The stars of that show were Bo Ningen, thankfully they have returned. The Japanese four piece psyche noise rock exponents are back and this time quite deservedly they were upgraded to the mainstage. To describe their live show in words is for me, just simply impossible. You have to experience it in the flesh, close up and first hand. Complex riffs, face melting velocity dovetail with subtle moments of melody. Frontman Taigen still retains that so distinctive yelp. Gone are their traditional long dark robes from 2013. On this night, their attire is very western based, but it gives them an awe of presentational invincibility. The length of songs they perform vary from five to over ten minutes. Although the room is sadly not packed (what is wrong with people in this town?) the attendees who did attend, looked totally mesmerised by the sheer force of ferocity emanating from these Japanese hands. Bo Ningen were simply fantastic and left yet again so many great memories. A word of praise also to the gigs opening band who were The Kramers. They demonstrated an explosive salvo of punk n roll tunes. They literally ripped my eardrums apart as well as shredding their guitars at the speed of sound. Marvellous stuff.

Undoubtedly the most prestigious gig of the month happened on Friday 29 for many people in Bedford, I bet they thought they would never ever see one of the biggest names in hip hop music, I’m talking about the legendary rapper KRS One, who sold out the main stage.
Hailing from the Bronx in New York City, he first found fame in the late eighties with Boogie Down Productions. I first came across him rather bizarrely, as in 1991 he vocally guest rapped on the Out Of Time album by REM. So I suppose everyone will have different memories of how they first came across this big man. Now, well into his fifties, a tall message board is propped up on stage next to him. Three simple words are printed in bold letters, they simply say Knowledge Reigns Supreme. As KRS One starts his hip hop sermon, all eyes are transfixed on him. The preceding ‘hype man’ has done an excellent job in getting everybody in the mood for the main man.
KRS One is very political, shout outs go to amongst others, Martin Luther King, Marcus Garvey. He tells us that “Hip hop is intelligent movement” KRS One is a natural at freestyling. When this man is singing, he is “unconscious”. Tragic events in his professional and personnel life have over the years happened to him, but on this show he makes no mention of it. Back in May, KRS One released his new The World Is Mind album and he features a few songs from it. His rapid fire delivery proves what he tells us and that is “Hip hop is a human skill” of the set, I did enjoy Light Tunnels (Its one where even Britney Spears gets namechecked!) plus FF*** D A Police, although he did add the word “racist” to bring it bang up to date for President Trumps law enforcement! Very philosophical in his beliefs, he tells us, “Understand knowledge is not to read, but just look around you” further to this comment, he lists a host of self made millionaire entrepreneurs, who early on in their lives “Dropped out”. His final act was to invite budding hip hop artists from the audience to demonstrate their skills on stage. While they performed, KRS One quietly exited the spotlights. A classy finale.

Local heros The Scruff headlined on the last day of the month (Saturday 30). A line up change has occurred since their last mainstage appearance, as they now have Jack on board. With an exciting festivals filled summer to look back on, the popular quartet are now embarking on an extensive Autumn tour. The evenings undoubted highlight (and of course with The Scruff there are so many) is a beautiful and touching performance of the bands brand new single. It is called Her and was written for every mother in the whole world. The Scruff always put on a top notch hometown show for their friends, family and fans in attendance and the atmosphere generated on the night is a live memory to savour. In fact September was a month of memories I feel!

Review by Martin Stapleton.