Back again for the sixth year, this great fundraiser saw many bands play, some for free, to raise funds for Macmillan cancer relief. This year, despite distractions from the World Cup, a fabulous £800 was raised over the three day punk extravaganza, with not a hint of any trouble whatsoever.
Friday evening and the headliners are the legendary South Shields band The Angelic Upstarts, still fronted by Mensi. The doors are open at 6.30pm with local band The Lengthmen kickng off with a superb set, playing some great self penned numbers like Sty TV, Gag Reflex and Sex ‘n’ Chaos.
There’s a few punks with impossibly laquered spiky mohicans milling about as The Ruins play an excellent set, with some Ruins merchandise to be had as well. Johnny Vincent’s in great form as usual, posturing in his own inimitable style. Read Johnny’s book, “An Alternative Derby,” if you get the chance, it’s a great read.
Time for a ciggie break, so it’s out the front with a nice pint of Guinness, and a chat with The Lengthmen, it seems that Moto’s won the raffle. Then we all dive back into the music room to hear some more punky sounds courtesy of Red London and Knock off, before the highlight of the evening, The Angelic Upstarts, quoted by Allmusic as “one of the period’s most politically charged and thought-provoking groups.” Mensi and the lads charge through a great set with a selection of their best known songs like You’re Nicked, Solidarity and I’m An Upstart, as if it was still 1977 It’s now Saturday and the music all kicks off around 3 O’ Clock with local legends Addictive Philosophy doing an acoustic set to get things going. There’s more spiky haired punks, some with tattoos and lots of piercings. They might look threatening if you didn’t know better, but the fact is that you’d be safer here than a lot of mainstream joints in town.
The afternoon whizzes by as more bands perform, happy to do so, and all with the one aim of raising loads of money for Macmillians. We hear some great sets from Static Kill, Midnight Tattoo and Mau Maus, before there’s a break of an hour, where we all top up our drinks, and head outside for a chat and smoko.
Headsticks from Stoke on Trent are up next, playing a fusion of folk and punk with a real passion, citing diverse influences such as The Men They Couldn’t Hang, The Levellers and Joe Strummer. I hear their take on a Ewan McColl song, as well as a selection of their own stuff including the excellent You’re Killing Me America.
At the end of their set the band are rescued in the nick of time by a tip off from someone out front as their van is being eyed up by over enthusiastic traffic wardens cruising around Becket Street.
Amongst the best of local punk bands, The Reverends are next up with brothers Mick and Gaz Moore and Phil Drummer not surprisingly on drums. Gaz cuts a pose not unlike Joe Strummer, which all adds up to a real gutsy set, with songs which include Bang To Rights, Take The Money And Run and Community Workforce.
The Berlin Blackouts are pretty good, too; they’re a three piece from Germany comprising of Bev on guitar and vocals, Ben the drummer and their left handed girl bassist, Katya. The smoke machine adds real atmosphere to their set, with songs reminiscent of the The Clash, Pistols and The Ramones.
Just one more act now, who are Drongos For Europe before the headliners who tonight are Conflict. I’m talking with Hairy Dog mainstay Tigger, who reckons that Conflict are the real deal. It turns out that he’s right on the button, as the set that follows is a real kick ass affair. Their drummer has black and white hair, and the guitarist’s dreads are pretty awesome. I’m impressed by the bassist, who plays with palpably visible conviction and feeling. This is punk at its best, and representative of the whole ethos of anarchism and class war; Mr Lydon please take note, they mean it man.
The last day of the festival, and more bands play, Gav rattles his buckets relentlessly in a final drive to swell the donations for Macmillans.There’s still a crowd of die-hard punks at The Dog on a Sunday afternoon who are intent on seeing it through to the very last band; the headliners today are Wonk Unit.
It all gets underway at 5pm with The Randy Savages strangely reminiscent of The Beastie Boys, and who ensure that the spirit of punk is alive for the last day here.
Kickback Generation follow next snapping at the heels of The Randy Savages, before the next act, Suckerpunch who deliver that well timed musical left hook with some hard rocking beats.
The Septic Psychos are one band today that stand out; the band formed in the late 70s when the lineup were still at school, and recently reformed with two of the original founding band members. This band are full on unapologetic old school high octane punk, and really shift the whole place up a gear with their set.
We’re all eagerly waiting for the headliners to come on, but not before we hear from Liam Marr and The Dropouts, a three piece, who play a very spirited set with some rocky riffs and tasty guitar licks.
Wonk Unit, famous for such numbers as the fabulous Kings Road Fallen Heroes and the very funny Christmas In A Crack House, (Check out the vid on You Tube) finally wrap up a great weekender for a very worthy cause. This is punk with a slightly humourous twist, and cynical lyrics that would give the best of the genre a run for their money. Of course there’s a few expletives thrown in, but then the songs likely would lose their meanings without them. The Hairy Dog faithful who have lasted the three day marathon go away happy as Gav rattles his buckets frantically by the door in a last final push for donations.
Hopefully, if Paul Keenan has his way, which I am sure that he will, we’ll all be back in 2019 for the 7th Punks Against Cancer event.