Punkerama Records Fundraiser for Starlight | Review

Punkerama Records Fundraiser for Starlight | Review

Featuring: J’aime Rachelle, Takers And Users, Protex, Shame Academy, Cultess and Terri Hooley (DJ).

Oh Yeah Centre, Belfast • Saturday 07 October 2017

By Neil Trelford • Photography: Rodney Pennie

Punkerama’s Gary Fahy’s annual birthday bash is always a much-anticipated rock jamboree. Tonight’s eclectic line-up came out in force to celebrate with him and to show strong support for Starlight, the children’s charity.

So what a way to start a celebratory night, Gary’s talented daughter, J’aime Rachelle serenades the early audience with her own unique solo performance.

J’aime with a truly colourful and impish style of a young Cyndi Lauper, opens with the self-penned ‘Haze’ before delivering a turbulent treble from her End Of The Rainbow EP. A troublesome acoustic guitar doesn’t deter from the passion of ‘Go Back’, ‘Pay As You Go’ and ‘See Right Through’ before she meanders into the penultimate song of this short but sincere set.

‘Rockstar’ is as enthralling as it is endearing as J’aime chirps it in an almost stripped back Alanis Morrisette tone. She glides into her finale, lifting her vocals into a silky grunge for a cover of The Cranberries ‘Zombie’, a song affiliated too often with Belfast’s troubled past. But J’aime masterly leaves other thoughts in the audience’s heads and that is to enjoy the night ahead in the new Belfast but with old musical friends.

Next up are the hardworking and Buckfast slugging, Takers and Users bringing their raucus brand of Oi to the stage.

Fresh from a rampant summer appearance at Rebellion in Blackpool, frontman Darzo leads the assault with tracks from their 2016 album Backbars and Alleyways.

From the distain of local politics in ‘Folks On The Hill…Working Class Revolt’ to the reminder that Skinhead music is actually quite liberal in ‘Sometimes’, the lads deliver a cohesive set that has a crowd bouncing on their Airwair cushioned soles.

A couple of new tracks are mixed in to tonight’s set and with an early Menace sounding ‘Hometown Heroes’ the lads are strengthening their impressive catalogue of foot-stomping anthems.

They rally through with ‘Buckfast Blues’, ‘Stitch Up’ and ‘Belfast Punk Rock City’ before bossing the invigorated crowd with their 2017 single release on Randale Records, ‘Glory Days’.

They bring a blistering end to their set with ‘Judge, Jury And Executioner’ just in time to grab a breather before steering their Juggernaut of Oi to Dublin’s version of Rebellion at the end of the month.

So with the night and the crowd maturing it was time for Belfast’s own power-pop heroes Protex to take the stage.

Still fronted by original Aidan Murtagh, the current foursome launched into their guitar-fused set with ‘Strange Things’.  This along with others feature on their 2010 compilation album Strange Obsessions, an album produced by Sing Sing Records based in New York.

‘Look Out Jonny’ followed by their second single released on Polydor Records in 1979, ‘I Can’t Cope’ brought melodic reminiscing of Belfast’s old Harp Bar for many of tonight’s guests. These two songs also featuring on the Can’t Leave Those Strange Obsessions To Rest EP released by tonight’s host on his Punkerama Records label back in 2012.

After ‘A Night of Action’, the punchy 80s Mod fuelled ‘Tightrope’ from the same titled 2017 album, energetically weaves fellow album tracks ‘Truth’ and ‘Waiting For The Sign’ into this timeless harmonic set.

Arguably their finest and third release on Polydor Records ‘A Place In Your Heart’ found itself beating mid-show whilst their first Polydor release ‘I Can Only Dream’ topped the crescendo of ‘Private Lives’ and ‘Strange Obsessions’ and paving the way for their famed 1978 debut single on Terri Hooley’s Good Vibrations label.

This evening’s version of the GOT 6 single, ‘Don’t Ring Me Up’, was as high tempo and as vigorously catchy as it was nearly forty years ago.

A tremendous shift by Protex, nicely warming themselves up for their own forthcoming mini-tour including a couple of shows in Italy in October, two blinders in Portugal, a November gig in London and then a treble bill in Germany a  few days after Christmas.

As if great bands weren’t enough of a birthday treat, Gary spoils his guests with Belfast’s legendary music man Terri Hooley taking to the decks to spin a great mix of punk, rock and reggae tunes including The Ramones, Wayne County and The Electric Chairs, The Beastie Boys and Generation X. The Godfather of Northern Ireland Punk was the perfect show filler, linking nicely from Protex to tonight’s main act, a band made up of Protex’s Good Vibration’s label mates Rudi and The Outcasts.

Belfast Punk super-group Shame Academy reformed especially for this one off event. The popular trio are made up of Brian Young on vocals and guitar (Rudi and Sabrejets); Greg Cowan on vocals and guitar (The Outcasts) and Petesy Burns on Drums (Stalag 17, The Outcasts and ARSE).

The crowd swell were clearly here for a blast of Rudi and Outcasts brilliance and these Belfast Punk Mafia wouldn’t disappoint.

Petesy donning his favourite The Warriors movie t-shirt tapped the lads straight into Rudi’s ‘Time To Be Proud’ and Brian rolled back the years with a vivacious vocal delivery.

Another Good Vibrations number was next up, GOT 3, The Outcasts ‘Just Another Teenage Rebel’ sung with a swagger and poise that Green Day’s Billy Joe Armstrong often struts.

The sharp exchange between Rudi and The Outcasts continues with ‘Pressure’s On’ and ‘Seven Deadly Sins’ and Brian exhibits his almost Chuck Berry-like strumming on the latter. The 1979 Good Vibrations release I-Spy (GOT 12) by Rudi has both the younger and older generation punks dancing in unison before the first of the sets true cover versions, a punked up version of Nancy Sinatra’s ‘These Boots Were Made For Walking’ sung by Greg.

More rapid-fire exchange between the legends with Rudi’s ‘When I Was Dead’ and ‘Crimson’ either side of The Outcasts ‘Gangland Warfare’.  The two Rudi songs were early 1980s releases on the Paul Weller funded record label Jamming!.

After a solid grunge of The Stooges ‘I Wanna Be Your Dog’, Greg teasingly introduced Rudi’s all-time favourite as The Money Shark and the lads guitars wind in tandem to the iconic ‘Big Time’.

The closing two songs are a respectful bow to their long-departed peers and influences.

First up, a track that Terri Hooley had jokingly played earlier in the evening just to agitate his star pupils, ‘Sheena Is A Punk Rocker’ by the almighty Ramones.

And finally a swashbuckling salute to Johnny Thunders with a gritty version of ‘Born To Lose’.

One thing is for sure these guys definitely weren’t born to lose, with the Northern Ireland Punk ancestry born onto the Good Vibrations label 40 years ago next year, how privileged is Belfast to have these legends and inspirers in one venue together playing amazing music? Not too many other cities can boast that!

It’s a sound tribute to Gary Fahy and a real credit to Terri Hooley, Protex and Brian Young, Greg Cowan and Petesy Burns.

Playing out the night was Cultess, a local tribute band to the Indie Rock giants, The Cult.

Cultess are well rehearsed but not your typical tribute copycat clones of their idols. Right from ‘L’il Devil’ through to ‘Rain’ and ‘Wild Flower’ the band are electrifyingly flawless but it is lead vocalist Susan’s almost honeyed guttural voice that sets her apart from the accomplished Ian Astbury.

Marauding their way through ‘Fire Woman’ and into the indie dance-floor filler ‘She Sells Sanctuary’, Susan resonates skin tingling vocals and a version worthy of commendation from Mr Astbury himself.

With ‘Sweet Soul Sister’ and ice hockey game favourite ‘Rise’ posing the instrumental challenges for the musicians, they overcame it as gallantly as their lead singer and delivered blinding renditions.

It certainly takes something special to mimic one Cult song never mind a greatest hits catalogue but this band mastered it and they closed a tremendous birthday/charity night with a convincing ‘Love Removal Machine’.

A tremendous thanks is in order for Gary Fahy, all tonight’s acts and of course the audience in response to Punkerama Records Fundraiser for Starlight.

To find out more on Punkerama Records then read our next publication of the CultureHUB Magazine Issue 12 for an exclusive interview with the man himself, Gary Fahy.

Neil Trelford

(Author of The Youth Club)

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