(review by neil crud) (pix by combi chris, crud and david caleb lee)
Old Bangor punk tarmac grinders of yore Anhrefn were a political band. Political in the sense they had social politics to spread, in a sense, like Crass had a message of goodwill to all others to spread while despising the system we/they had to bow to.
Anhrefn’s aims were clear, they knew that they could preach to the converted until their rugged faces turned blue and those disciples would go home happy after their dose of Anhrefn and play their records ad nauseum.
Punk is very much like that now, we have our networks, our gigs and our festivals, we go out, have a great time, listen to some great music, see some great bands, see some great new bands, mix with our tribe and go home and play the records… ad nauseum.
Anhrefn saw this, used this, played along with this, but they also knew that they had to also act as crusaders for their cause and spread their word, their politics beyond the ‘safe’ boundaries of punk rock. Their politics was to spread the Welsh language, to take it beyond the palls of the contrived insular and racist Welsh media. And to an extent, for a time, they achieved some of their aims. People like myself heard them on late night Radio One on John Peel’s show, we saw them playing and we embraced the medium of Welsh, no longer sheepishly shying away for fear of being accused of having sex with the said animal.
Anhrefn’s sub-manifesto was to preach their punk rock ideals to the young, the impressionable, those who are still easily influenced. They took their abrasive Welsh punk rock show across the principality’s schools and youth clubs, playing to kids, most of whom had never seen a punk band or heard the genre. I first saw them (by sheer chance) playing Rydal School’s Fun Day in Colwyn Bay (they were lambasted by a teacher dressed as a clown for swearing!), but from that day on I was a disciple, I went home and played their records.. ad nauseum.
This brings us right up to date, to the 21st Century – things have changed, we (and the young) are exposed to far more now, everything is immediate, everything is saturated, there is too much choice. There is also a missing generation or two when it comes to punk rock. Those who got caught up in all the acid house, rave stuff at the end of the 80s and into the 90s are missing. They now turn up at Stone Roses reunions, take drugs they’ve not taken in 20 years, drink too much, make twats of themselves then go home and play the records… ad… yeah, you get the picture…
There’s also a generation of kids coming up now more interested in social media and drinking and shagging than live bands. Than punk rock. Don’t get me wrong, it’s awful when punk goes overground and every fool is ‘a punk’ – it’s our club now go away! But there is a need to open the doors to let others in; the baton needs to be passed on or you end up a parody like Teddy Boys were in the 70s. This is why playing nights like tonight are essential to any band with a cause – any rebels with a cause… Yeah we may slip out a swear word or two, or make a drug reference or lose a stray bottle of Port in the bogs when alcohol is forbidden… but that’s all part of growing up isn’t it..?
If one kid goes home after tonight after seeing us and forms a band that write and play their own songs then our job is done. The rest may go home and dream of being a 15 minute nobody on The Voice, but that’s fine, they were never meant to be in our gang anyway. But that one kid’s band then play to their mates, maybe at their schools and youth clubs and another kid will think, ‘I can do that,’ and forms a band and so it continues – The Crusade… ad nauseum…
Oh the gig..? It was organised by Bangor Youth Group, who, in hindsight may not have allowed us to play because of said references and smuggled Port, but without people like themselves who dedicate their time and efforts for the greater good and not for profit then the world would be a far worse off place.
We (Braxton Hicks) played our usual 25 minutes, and like BYG, offered our services and effort at our own expense for the greater good. Joe was on top form despite breaking a string and despite not being able to hear each other I guess we did okay – they seemed to like us, and the kids who got up with their guitars at the Open Mic Session beforehand put our abilities to shame. The difference being, we are up there playing as a band, playing our own songs, which have been released and played on national radio, we’ve got ourselves on the covers of national magazines, we’ve supported ‘name’ bands. That is by no means bragging… That is quite simply stating that a band with our limited capabilities can go out there and get our name in small print on the poster, and time and time again it shows that it’s the bands/people with drive that get somewhere. Britain may very well have talent, but it’s up to you to see beyond a panel of arrogant sneering judges and make a name for yourselves. It’s your decision… ours was to be an unambitious punk band, I think our job is done on that front, and I’m now quite happy to take up Anhrefn’s sub-manifesto.
A band very much in the nascent stage are Addicted To Fish, I saw them last year in Base (playing their first gig?). They were far better tonight, making a glorious post-Nirvarnic racket with guitars too loud for the drums and the room, simple but essential bass runs and a subsonic gruff vocal. Add a shambolic edge that really suited them and their personalities and you have a rough diamond called Addicted To Fish. Loved the way they played songs that petered out cos they hadn’t finished writing them. A work in progress as they say… ace…