You can say what you want about Garry Bushell, and let’s face it, music fans of a certain age will usually have an opinion on him, but Mr Bushell is responsible for coining more terms for musical genres than any other music journalist. One of my favorites terms was Punk Pathetique which included the likes of Toy Dolls, Splodgenessabounds and to a lesser degree The Damned. I have always dropped The Rezillos / Revillos (as they were known in the 80s) firmly in that box.
Take two bouncers, a Californian/Australian goateed bicycle courier and a pirate/Napoleonic type general and shove em all in a sack. Add your fave naughty auntie from your childhood. You know, the one that was more like a big sister who would give you a swig of her drink at family gatherings when nobody was looking. Dress her up in colourful home-made garb. Chuck in a wee touch of The Flintstones, a hint of Father Jack and a crate of Buckfast. Give the sack a real good shake and pour out the proper shooken-upped contents onto a stage in the Midlands and you get the Rezillos, on tour, hitting Wolvo on a Friday night.
The band have upped their game in recent years. Last year saw them headline tour the USA and the UK in support of The Stranglers and a long awaited new album. When you see the energy on stage you have to wonder just how they manage it. Faye Fife, the wide eyed hyperactive singer/keyboardist has more get up and go than kids half her age. Eugene is dapper in dual tipped Pirate hat and long velvet trench coat. These are the ever present members in the bands forty year history and they attempt to share the limelight as the joint focal point on stage, although with Faye’s staccato movements and wigged out stare it is hard to avert your eyes away from her for long.
Opening with their very first single and forty years old next year, “Can’t Stand My Baby” then “Bad Guy Reaction” from their dÃ©but album they then race into the opening track from that release, “Flying Saucer Attack”. Any of you old-new Punks reading this would recognise this as “reprised” by The Vandals on one of the tracks fro their “Hitler Bad Vandals Good” album.
It isn’t just Faye and Eugene that impress with their stage presence though. The rhythm section are rock solid and the guitar playing of Jim Brady is rock’n’roll fretwork at it’s best. You’d be hard pressed to find another guitarist from the era that threw out the Rezillos who can play blistering 50s rock’n’roll licks like this guy. The bassist, Chris Agnew reminds of the rolling bass lines of Norman Watt-Roy of The Blockheads, his fingers running the neck fast and clean. More sprinting bass lines than r’n’r style walking bass! So strong are the guitars that you could be forgiven for then saying that the drums of Angel Paterson, original drummer with the band and back in the stool since 2001, are the weak link. But that would be unfair. He is steady as a rock looking calm and collected just getting the business done while the front two keep the focus of the crowd.
There doesn’t appear to be any slowing of pace from Faye, not even when they hit the newer material from last years album, “Zero”. From that offering we get “Groovy Room”, “Life’s A Bitch”, “Sorry About Tomorrow” and we’re even treated to Faye’s Running Man dance!!
Now I have seen The Rezillos a few times before, hearing them suffer from bad sound, and never having been a massive fan I’ve just let them pass me by as a Punk Pathetique band… a bit of a laugh but nothing special. However, unhindered by bad sound, with a partisan audience and looking as though they are genuinely having a good time they really rip it up. My companion on the evening suggests that they have a B52s sound but it goes deeper than that for me. There’s a mid-era Cramps wall of sound at one point and a little Gene Vincent all mixed up with that Rezillos crazy style.
When they hit the charge for the line it starts with my fave, “My Baby Does Good Sculptures” and then never lets up until the end of the encores. “Top of The Pops” is followed by a great cover of “River Deep, Mountain High”, much improved on the original for being sung in a thick Scottish accent! The final song before encores being “Destination Venus”.
We are treated to a band argument about what encores they are going to do but they are never going to disappoint in terms of tracks or style … they start and end with covers. A cracking version of The Dave Clark Five’s “Glad All Over” to start. We have Jim Brady eliciting feedback from his amp and then leaning his guitar over the front row getting them to rip out some noise from it and we have the song that everyone loves to hear… that first album cover version of early Fleetwood Mac song “Somebody’s Gonna Get Their Head Kicked In Tonight”.
Everyone is a little bit older and wiser these days and the song that many years did get fights started in the crowd when they played it, now just gets people punching the air instead of each other. The band leave the stage looking genuinely happy and five minutes later they’re mingling with the crowd. I’m glad to be proven wrong. They may not take themselves seriously but there is definitely more to these guys than a Garry Bushell genre pigeon hole of Punk Pathetique. There’ll be another tour shortly. Go see them!
Review: Mark Veitch
Photographs: Chris Bowley