photos by kev smith, steve dunkley, phil newall

In a hundred years time there’ll be a statue of Pete Bentham in Concert Square holding Queen Victoria’s knob… It’ll be there to celebrate the achievements this man made to the alternative Liverpool scene… The Free Rock n Roll Scene… Rewind one hundred years to the present day and we are right in the midst of those celebrations, and long may they continue…
The Free Rock n Roll Festival is a two-day event put together by Pete of his favourite bands who have played his Free Rock n Roll nights here in Liverpool….


So it was an honour to be asked to play….
It began at 4pm on a Saturday afternoon, and you fear for bands (ourselves included) playing so early on a match day… So it was warming to see so many people in attendance as Irene & The Disappointments blasted out songs from the heart… It’s pretty twee in a cool independent underground label kind of way… Vocals remind me of Woman’s Hour (a compliment of the highest order); full of soul and meandering melody… John’s guitar had me transfixed as he played with ease and confidence… Songs started low and finished high… They have an album out called ‘So Long Sweet Lime’ that I’m really struggling to track down…


Scene And Heard fanzine had these kind words to say about our set…
Next up are Welsh warriors Spam Javelin. With raw, gritty, energetic music and humorous, yet politically barbed, highly conscious lyrics they brought the first rabid bite to the day. Intensely enjoyable.


Quickly stashing our gear in the boot of the car, thanking Jesus that the local Gestapo Wardens hadn’t ticketed it for being in a ‘Controlled Zone’ we slipped back in to catch The Poly-Esters. They’re a band I had seen a couple of years back in a drunken stupor after Rebellion Festival had thrown us out. They bang out no-nonsense punk rock as if their lives depend on it… Proper inspiring guitaring from Catlow as the sound filled the full room. Great structure to songs that were delivered with gusto. Cool stuff.


Having to check-in at a local crack house for the night meant we missed Litterbug from Blackpool but those boys from Scene And Heard had this to say…
Litterbug left you in no doubt who they support football wise and their set was an exciting little tour de force bringing even more supporters to their own cause. The DIY punk ethic combined with the slightly more free flowing surf/grunge influences added up to a quality sound.


We played with Werecats maybe six weeks ago and it was good to catch up with this London based band again… Two guitars, shared vocals, big bass and great drums… They captured the Sound crowd immediately with spiky tunes, warmth and confidence that left everyone smiling. Check out their album ‘Destined For The Outside.’


Somehow missed Bolshy and don’t know how! – Here’s Scene And Heard’s take on their set –
I’m annoyed at Bolshy. They are splitting up in November. They’ve set a date and everything! A wall of sound, a tsunami of ska/punk with extras, brings an intensity of noise rarely seen at this level. And they’re calling it a day! I’m outraged! I wish them well, but they have me grumpy… (Boo! Hiss! and other pantomime whining!).


Phil Newall (Louder Than War Records) shoved me in the direction of Snakerattlers at Rebellion last month… I somehow stumbled into the wrong venue to witness what turned out to be some shite best-forgotten punk dross… I was so perplexed until it dawned on me what I had done… Anyway York’s Snakerattlers are on stage and they are possibly the best two-piece I have ever seen… I was transfixed and grinning from ear to ear… On stage was Ted Bundy with a guitar, menacing and quite scary… Next to him was his abductee on stand-up drums, who looked like a librarian, albeit a twisted psychotic librarian who gives out acid tabs to children. They play PSYCHObilly, well OK, mainly psycho and very little billy… They scream ‘All heads will roll’ and they certainly did… This set was up there as one of those special moments you get in a musically drenched life…

Sheepy, another band I have recently seen and, like Werecats, tonight they had upped the ante on their performance… The big crowd, the flowing beer, the bubble machine all added to the experience as they cherry picked their way through that huge vat of songs. The choice was good, the faces were smiling, toes were tapping, heads were nodding… Frog marching through genres as if they owned them Sheepy signed, sealed and delivered everything you wanted from a band tonight. Great stuff… (Oh, and if you want to know who spilt their pint over your merch, I’ll swap their name for a *dry* copy of your album…).

Although they’ll deny it was their Cadillac outside, The Blue Carpet Band from London thrashed through a repertoire of psycho-trash’n’roll. Fronted by Djamel who is a hulk of a fifties throwback, glistening with sweat and Brylcreem. His jacket is better than your jacket so you’d better get the fuck off his stage. Think of The Cramps / Stooges / Meteors having a fist-fight in a carbon monoxide filled garage and you’ll get the picture… It all neatly wrapped up a superb day one of the Free Rock n Roll Festival… There’ll be hangovers aplenty tomorrow for day two…