The Garage, London - 24 October 2015

"It's telling that all the best moments were covers"

Turning up too late to see Baddest (why do bands have such shit names these days?), I was struck by how long it had been since I'd been to the Garage. They've done some re-modelling at some point, and while I can't tell you exactly what it is they've done, it's not improved the atmosphere any.

Given that this was the first gig I've ever gone to with the express purpose of writing a review, I decided that I wouldn't drink that much. The hideous bar prices stiffened my resolve by several degrees, and the seeming impossibility of being served quickly even though the venue was less than a quarter full made a confirmed teetotaller of me for the duration.

I have tried to adjust my critical judgement to take account of the fact I had no-one to talk to and nothing to drink for the entire night, but if I come over particularly curmudgeonly, you know the reason why, and hopefully will sympathise with my pain.

[Baddest]   [Baddest]   [Baddest]

Photos [L-R]: Baddest

Morgellons arrived on stage complete with a drummer clad in an old-school Killing Joke t-shirt, which is generally a good sign. And I have to say that initially I was quite impressed, having as they did a singer who could actually, properly sing, and lyrics that strayed from the normal punk orthodoxy, one of which - apparently about the end of a relationship - with a minor change to the instrumentation could have quite happily graced a decent country song (that's a compliment, by the way). Throughout the set, they gave hints that something was there, with nods to New Model Army, Banshees/Bauhaus guitar lines, and one song that lyrically could have been a lost Cramps b-side.

But in the end, their lack of passion (I'm so sick of bands that just stand there), and the singer's tiresome cockney banter, which made me think of Danny Dyer fronting The Vibrators (that's not a compliment, by the way), became irksome very quickly. The final nail in the coffin was the last song - a cover of Richard Hell's Blank Generation - which would have normally earned them points for thinking outside the box, had they not ham-fistedly turned its wired, brittle pulse into a dull stomp.
My note book bears the legends 'Woeful rubbish' and 'Punk ordinaire', and it is at this point that we should probably draw a veil.

[Morgellons]   [Morgellons]   [Morgellons]

Photos [L-R]: Morgellons

Penetration took the stage in what had become a comfortably full venue and started off with Instrumantra, one the better tracks from their lack-lustre new LP. They took the brave (foolhardy?) step of opening with several new tracks, which on the face of it shows a high degree of confidence in the new material, but Murray apologised for playing the songs (and was constantly doing so throughout the set). I would expect (as I imagine the band did) most of the crowd to be there to hear the classics, but if you're going to start the set with a block of new songs, you need to do it in a 'fuck you, these are great' way, rather than apparently accepting that they're not up to snuff.

Murray (and the rest of the band), only really came alive when playing old material as if they knew that the new stuff couldn't cut it. Moving Targets, Lovers of Outrage, Movement, and their version of Buzzcocks' Nostalgia, got the pulses not exactly racing, but certainly elevated. Then it was back to the drying paint of the latest album.

[Penetration]   [Penetration]   [Penetration]   [Penetration]

Photos [L-R]: Penetration

hings picked up properly with the classic Patti Smith cover Free Money and the joyous rumble of Don't Dictate, but they then chose to finish the set proper with the entirely adequate Come Into the Open and most bizarrely Shout Above the Noise, which is no-one's idea of a stone-cold classic. Given their extensive back catalogue, it's a weird song to end with (Stone Heroes or Vision would both have easily been a better choice).

The encore (of course there was an encore) featured a second Buzzcocks cover in the shape of I Don't Mind, and their obvious enjoyment in playing it temporarily restored my faith in humanity. So much do I love the song, and so happy was I to see John Maher finally let off the leash, that I was moved to sing along with the classic "I even think you hate me, when you call me on the phone" line.

I know they did another song after this (and apparently came back for a second encore), but I prefer to remember the gig as finishing on a high point. I'm not big on nostalgia, and I don't like seeing old bands just going through the motions with a lazy crowd-pleasing set, but on this occasion I'd have kind of preferred it if Penetration hadn't played any of the new songs.

It's telling that the best moments (bar Don't Dictate, which let's face it, they'd have to go some to muck up), were all covers. 

Review: Nick Hydra
Photos: AIWS