Buzzcocks @ the ME1 – Music Event One Festival, Medway

According to the Gospel of Punk, first there was The Sex Pistols & The Clash and the rest followed. The first of those bands from outside London were Buzzcocks.  They even promoted the famous Free Trade Hall Sex Pistols gig in Manchester in 1976 which spawned a plethora of bands from the small gathering that attended. Thirty-seven years later and Buzzcocks are headlining this year’s ME1 – Music Event One festival in Medway, following once more in the footsteps of Johnny Rotten who led his merry men in an assault on Rochester Castle last year with his latest incarnation of Pil.

The concept behind Music Event One is simple – pay for one ticket to a day of music in several locations in and around the Rochester Medway ME1 postcode.  Throughout the day local bands played well known music venues the Eagle Tavern, Nags Head, Ye Arrow & Man Of Kent – before Buzzcocks headlined the main event at the Casino Rooms supported by Chris Pope’s The Chords, Dexters and local hero Prisoners-cum-Prime Movers-cum-Forefathers frontman Graham Day, with a new name for a familiar beat combo – Simon ‘Wolf’ Howard on drums, Alan Crockford on bass and Graham Day on guitar and vocals blasting out psychedelic-singed garage rock to an enthusiastic audience.

Graham Day & the Forefathers @ the ME1 – Music Event One Festival, Medway
Graham Day & the Forefathers @ the ME1 – Music Event One Festival

The Casino Rooms is best known as a club venue playing various strains of commercial dance music.  I don’t know of any other rock music gigs held there and was impressed with the size of the main room, thinking it would be a great place to have regular gig nights in the heart of the Medway Towns. But as soon as Graham Day & the Forefathers began their set it was apparent the sound was far from perfect. Everything seemed muffled, like a big ball of fluff was caught under the stylus of a long playing record of a gramophone-cum-sideboard. The band played on regardless to the applause of the crowd around the front of the stage who weren’t going to let it spoil their enjoyment.  Though my thoughts were shared by fans and members of the band alike, who told me the on-stage monitors were giving them a similar poor experience.

Buzzcocks @ the ME1 – Music Event One Festival, Medway
Buzzcocks @ the ME1 – Music Event One Festival, Medway

The crowd swelled slightly for the arrival of Buzzcocks but sadly the room looked less than half-full.  No pussyfooting around, they launched straight into Boredom. The crowd applauded and a small moshpit of forty-something’s began to relive their youth. Good spirits, great songs but sad to say, the sound remained appalling.  Several times the music, vocals or both dropped out.  But the band played on, lead by the enthusiastic, lively Steve Diggle and the somewhat more subdued but happy Pete Shelley. The two original members shared lead vocals and guitar duties along with smiles and interaction with their fans as they blasted through classic songs at breakneck Ramones speed.  Ever Fallen in Love, Harmony in my Head, Noise Annoys, Love You More… the set list seemed endless.

Steve Diggle has aged well with his hair dye and Pete Townsend windmills, he jumped around the stage while Pete Shelley with his grey hair and Cheshire cat smile kept rooted to the spot.  I couldn’t help thinking he needed a pint of whatever Diggle was drinking!

After the Buzzcocks, the Tap n Tin & Function Rooms offered more for those who wanted to dance the night away. Over 25 bands and DJs played in and around Rochester High Street – all for the price of £22.50.

Two years in and I really respect what the organisers of Music Event One are trying to achieve. The population of the Medway Towns, its musical heritage and the students at the local college and universities should make it a hot bed for bigger music gigs and events with top headliners.  But it appears they are still facing a certain level of apathy, which is nothing new. Last August the same promoters arranged The Cribs to play at the Function Rooms as a low-key warm-up to festival appearances.  It was a sell-out and a great success. The crowd was noticeably much younger and very enthusiastic. Maybe more bands like this and at a time which doesn’t clash with other music events is the only way that ME1 festival will survive and sell enough tickets in future.

It was great to see Buzzcocks.  Shame the sound let them and everyone who paid to see them, down.

Buzzcocks Headline ME1 – Music Event One 2013

Buzzcocks headline Music Event One
Buzzcocks headline Music Event One

Music Event One returns to Medway with pioneering punk band Buzzcocks.  Support comes from local garage pop hero and ex-The Prisoners front-man Graham Day (& The Forefathers), young contemporary upstarts Dexters, and one of the leading lights of the late 1970’s Mod revival, The Chords.

Buzzcocks – Harmony In My Head
httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VrafPlgQlME

Following performances last year from the likes of PiL, The Wedding Present & Subway Sect, the ME1 Music Festival  returns with its one ticket entry / multi-venue annual event.  This year the participating venues will include the Casino Rooms, The Royal Function Rooms & The Tap n Tin as well as a host of small venues in and around the ME1 postcode of Rochester, Medway in Kent.

ME One ticket gains entry to all venues priced £22.50.

Main stage: 4pm-10pm
Buzzcocks
Graham Day & The Forefathers
Dexters
Chris Pope’s Chords UK

Up The Junction Stage: 10pm-3am
The Get Up
Dean Rudland (DJ)
Andy Lewis (DJ)

The Tap n Tin stage: 10pm-3am
Charlie Boyer & The Voyeurs
Black Market Karma
Richard Norris (DJ)

More acts are still to be announced.  For more information visit www.musiceventone.co.uk.

Buzzcocks – Everybody’s Happy Nowadays
httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oNCTD185opo

There are hardly any bands performing today that genuinely deserve the adjective ‘legendary’.   Buzzcocks are one of those very few.  Their achievements are staggering: one of the original holy trinity of British punk (with the Sex Pistols and the Clash), innovators of the independent record scene and genuine punk rock superstars who have been cited as inspirational by bands as diverse as REM, Nirvana and Green Day.

Eight studio albums, over twenty singles and EPs, a constellation of compilations, covers by other bands and songs on film soundtracks and advertisements have put Buzzcocks among the top echelons of British recording artists.

Cranking out choice live cuts from four Graham Day-fronted bands, Graham Day & The Forefathers distil 30-odd years of high quality song writing, low-fi production and high energy performance to their stripped down garage-rock essence. This is how it started – and maybe how it will finish.

Graham Day
httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T92qUwDMSKQ

As a band, Dexters draw on a range of sounds and influences you wouldn’t necessarily associate with a young, blue collar band, formed in 2011. Captain Beefheart and Robert Johnson are name checked, while more contemporary influences can also be seen in songs like ‘Conscience Calls’ – which tips its hat to Jamie T – and their superb, flagship tune ‘Start To Run’, a song in homage to losing touch with an old friend, which has a pulsating, breakneck urgency in the style of a bastard child spawned from a threesome with the clash, Jamie T, and The Jam after a debauched night of cocktails and high octane fun.

Dexters – Recover
httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WMOgw7nSZRQ

Fronted by singer/songwriter Chris Pope, The Chords were a leading light in the post-punk Mod revival between 1979-81. Their biggest commercial hit, and still a live favourite is 1980’s Maybe Tomorrow.

The Chords – Maybe Tomorrow
httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FhkFdlmnhrk

ME1 – Rochester Castle: PiL, The Wedding Present, Kids Unique, Theatre Royal

In 1987 indie rock popsters The Wedding Present were riding high with their debut album, ‘George Best’ and single, ‘My Favourite Dress’ which was voted number 6 in that year’s John Peel’s Festive 50. They also played a gig at the Medway Arts Centre supported by local hipsters, The Dentists. Tonight they returned to play Rochester Castle as part of ME1 – Medway Event One – a whole day of live music staged in pubs, clubs & venues all within the Rochester ME1 postcode.

As rain turned to glorious sunshine there were free music events at participating pubs including The Eagle Tavern & The Nags Head, while tickets were still available for the main event. Rochester Castle Gardens played host to local favourites Kids Unique, Theatre Royal, The Wedding Present and headline act John Lydon’s PiL.

Adam Tilley of Kids Unique @ ME1 Rochester Castle
Adam Tilley of Kids Unique - photo: Phil Dillon

Kids Unique kicked the evening off with their own special blend of dance beats, indie rock guitars and the quick-fire rapping technique of Adam Tilley.  I love the way Kids Unique merge styles to create something very different to what’s commonly referred to as the ‘Medway Sound’.

Unfortunately, starting a set at 5.30pm they were greeted by a somewhat disappointingly small, yet very enthusiastic crowd.

[ad#kids-unique]

Oliver Burgess of Theatre Royal @ ME1 Rochester Castle
Oliver Burgess of Theatre Royal - photo: Phil Dillon

Preservation Society label-mates, Theatre Royal were next on and played a commanding set of crowd pleasing psyche-pop tunes that was a perfect accompaniment to the bright sunshine and ancient castle backdrop. Oliver Burgess appeared drunk with nerves or possibly alcoholic beverages, rambling a little between songs. But Oliver, along with the band executed their great pop songs with a typically professional performance, ending their set with the great pop-tastic single ‘If You Could Stand Up’.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B5eeqzFeH5E

David Gedge of The Wedding Present @ ME1 Rochester Castle
David Gedge of The Wedding Present - photo: Phil Dillon

The Wedding Present began with that 1987 indie chart hit, ‘My Favourite Dress’ and played a set of songs from their vast back catalogue.   The 1987 gig was their last as the original foursome & now only singer/songwriter David Gedge remains from the original line up. 25 years on the audience included the promoter of that gig and members of the support group, The Dentists.  While scattered around the front of the stage were fans adorning Wedding Present t-shirts.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uErGpb3SvIM

John Lydon of PiL @ ME1 Rochester Castle
John Lydon of PiL - photo: Phil Dillon

By the time John Lydon ambled onto the stage the audience had swelled but was less than I would have expected to see the lead singer of two of the most inspirational & influential bands from the last 35 years. Lydon was relaxed & in jovial mood, while the new Public Image Limited were tight and ultra professional in the delivery of songs from the First Issue, Second Issue (better known as ‘Metal box‘) and later singles such as ‘Rise’ & ‘This Is Not A Love Song’ plus songs from their latest album,’This Is PiL’.

Starting the set with ‘Albatross’ the tone was set.  John Lydon asked for “more bass”.  The band played a throbbing long version of ‘Religion’ which was one of the highlights for me.  But I wasn’t the only one to walk out of the Castle Gardens complaining that John Lydon hadn’t found time to play ‘Public Image’ though raving about a great rendition of his personal Leftfield collaboration, ‘Open Up’.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jPj-8_wOZcA

PiL put on a great show but imagine what it would have been like to see Keith Levine & Jah Wobble with John Lydon.

For those who weren’t ready for bed and hadn’t had enough nostalgia for one day, Vic Godard & the Subway Sect, complete with Sex Pistols drummer Paul Cook played an after show gig at the Royal Function Rooms.

Attendance was poor for such a great day of music; and I only hope it won’t dampen any spirits to consider making this an annual event.  The Medway Towns has a great history of music and what with two university campuses & one of the largest colleges in Kent, there is a large enough audience to make this work in future.

Phil Dillon is a photographer based in the Medway Towns in England, a place teeming with creative talent. He practices most types of photography, but is best known for his live and promotional work with musicians.

[ad#adsense-entertainment]