Review of UK Subs Concert


Impressions of the U K Subs Show
at The Great American Music Hall
by Gary X. Indiana.


Charlie Harper
The punkrock revival continues!Oldschool legends, the UK Subs, wound up their 20th anniversary U.S. tour with a triumphant return to San Francisco and a fiery performance at the Great American Music Hall. Started by singer Charlie Harper as a London R&B; combo, the band evolved into one of the original great British punk bands. Charlie solidified the lineup with bassist Alvin Gibbs and guitarist Nicky Garratt, but they parted ways after the epic Polish blitz of 1983, and finally reunited this year for recording and the tour, along with ex-Samiam drummer Dave Ayer.

This summer, Nicky’s San Francisco-based record label, New Red Archives, released the 17th UK Subs album “Quintessentials” in conjunction with Cleopatra Records’ release of the 18th title, “Riot” (all their records are alphabetical, y’see). Both records feature the “classic” (plus Dave) lineup. XXX subsidiary Amsterdamned recently issued the domestic version of the 15th Subs record “Occupied” with Charlie and his “Euro-Subs”, the guys he’s been playing with in Europe (including original drummer Pete Davies). European label Fallout/Jungle is putting out the 16th record, the live Peel Sessions, three classic recordings with Charlie, Nicky, Pete, and another early member, Paul Slack. So there’s a bumper crop of UK Subs material out there folks!

Nick Garratt
The Great American gig was a blast, despite the absence of those who chose to attend the Gwar extravaganza at the Warfield instead.Still, a decent crowd showed up, ranging from teenage crusties to wizened geezers like myself. We were disappointed to find that Alvin Gibbs had returned to England to take care of some domestic matters, but merchandise gal Carly was filling in on the last few dates of the tour, and doing a splendid job!

Charlie was in fine form, as good as ever, growling the vocals with his thick London accent. Nicky performed his legendary stage acrobatics, leaping into the air, doing the splits, and at one point hurling his guitar a good twenty feet in the air: I saw it coming down, I blinked, and there he was, strapped in and playing!

We heard plenty of songs from the Q/R releases, and just about all the classics we could hope for, including my dance faves “Stranglehold” and “Tomorrow’s Girls”. Nicky threw some of his label’s bands on the bill: Bay Area punkers Accustomed To Nothing opened the show with a hellacious set for the handful of onlookers, minus the kids who were outside drinking malt liquor on O’Farrell; and Pittsburgh anarchy-punks Anti-Flag won the crowd over with their political diatribes and their own not- too-shabby aerobatic guitar playing mayhem.

All in all a great night to be a punker in Frisco, oi oi.

Check out the new album from U.K. Subs (samples below).


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