12 Bar, London - 23
terrific, filler-free set and a well-deserved encore"
suffering from a rotten cold and attendant hacking cough, I
dragged my aching bones from my sickbed to make the arduous journey to
the top of Charing Cross Road (with a stop off at Gabby’s for a
take-away falafel as ritual dictates) to the soon-to-be-defunct 12 Bar
in Denmark Street.
Bug Central and Bleach passed by without
rousing me from my slightly
grumpy torpor, as I contented myself with keeping a weather eye on
proceedings via the in house CCTV system.
I’d seen a couple of things by Slug
on YouTube and been reasonably
impressed, and was interested to see them live, so I shifted my lazy
arse into the back room when they came on. Unfortunately they delivered
a performance that was entirely devoid of wit, style or substance (and
more importantly any hint of a fucking tune). The whole thing passed by
in an inexpressibly disheartening blur of sludgy guitar, wounded
buffalos grunts and drunks with bad tattoos and worse hair thrashing
aimlessly at the front of the stage. Lumpen, ugly and in need of a good
scrub, the experience was everything I dislike about contemporary
on the other hand, played a blinder. Despite a slightly
tentative start (doubtless due to them fielding a new signing in the
shape of Steph Hagar on rhythm guitar as well as a substitute drummer),
they soon turned the dance floor into a seething mass of good natured
chaos. It only took about three songs for me to throw caution to the
winds and hurl myself into the melee, all thoughts of phlegmy head,
dodgy back and wonky ankle cast aside.
[L-R]: Graham Burnett (1), Punk Rock Pix - John Marshall (2-3)
Singer Oskar abandoned the stage for large chunks of the set,
encouraging ad-hoc backing vocals from the audience, something that
could have come across as a painfully contrived ‘man of the people’
gesture, but was clearly an organic response to the tiny, overcrowded
stage, and a genuine commitment to inclusivity.
I’ve written about how good Anthrax are live before,
but this is the first time I’d seen them since getting to know the new
songs. Musically, I’ve talked about them in terms of the Pistols,
Menace and The Cockney Rejects previously, but as they tore
realised I’d missed another influence that runs all the way through
their recent material – the mighty Skids. Given that seeing Jobson
& Co at The Marquee in 1978 was my induction into the punk rock
life, and I consider Scared
to Dance to be one of the best albums ever made, this is
a revelation of some import.
They played a terrific, filler-free set, featuring the best bits from
the recent CD, an airing of the latest single Beg
Society which gets better every time I hear it,
and a well-deserved encore.
never particularly liked The 12 Bar - dismissing it as a ropey dive
populated by tedious drunks - but as I walked back to Charing Cross
station, soaked in sweat and steaming gently in the cold night air, it
struck me that this was probably going to be the last time I ever went
there. If this is going to be my swan-song at this particular venue, I
can’t think of a better way to bow out than seeing one of the best
bands in London play a gig good as this.
Setlist: One Last Drop,
Happy, Beg, Got It All Wrong, Prime, Hunger Pains, Capitalism, Ska,