It’s a while since I’ve been out to Bailiff’s Bar – it seemed sensible for Rawkus to move on when The Hell managed to cave a section of the roof in during their set at the venue last year (still not quite sure whether this was because of the loud/heavy axis or if it just couldn’t handle a bunch of Southern whoppers shouting ‘fuck’ at it for an extended period of time). Tonight, the vibe is more of a Punk one. To be honest I’m not sure if that’s better or worse for structural integrity.
Opening tonight are locals The Midwich Cuckoos, who have an old school Punk/Rock n Roll throwback sound and a vocalist a bit like a warble-y Elvis if he sacked off the pimp suit (and put down the fork). Instead of aforementioned pimp suit, Stuart has a spotted shirt that screams ‘I was really upset when BHS shut down’. All jokes aside, I salute him for it ‘cos he pulls it off like a champion. Musically, Cuckoos are studded with guitar solos, fairly tight and pretty well versed at what they do. Vocally, I’m feeling a husky Morrissey vibe – although thankfully the band aren’t half as boring and whiny as that. The room fills over the course of their set, and although there aren’t any fireworks here for me (I’m an impertinent little shit who prefers a more contemporary vibe) they’re nethertheless an entertaining and oddly eccentric start to the night.
Next in line are lovable Scousers Pete Bentham and the Dinner Ladies. Sadly, they’re without their usual dancers, but the Punk patched aprons are always a nice touch and, of course, Pete’s rocking the possibly-head-of-Geography-at-the-dinner-ladies’-school look. They kick off with a little ditty called ‘Let’s Drive’, getting a laugh by telling us it’s “about what a twat Jeremy Clarkson is”. The sound’s still pretty ringy (as it has been up until this point) which detracts a little from the impact of Pete’s well-versed craic, and early on we hit a technical rough patch on the guitar front – capably jammed out with some rhythm section and sax noodling. The sax, incidentally, brings a fresh dimension to an incredibly tight DIY Punk racket, with gang vocals and a general energy driving a very enjoyable vibe. ‘Don’t Listen To The Government’ gets a good crowd response, and of course between songs we’re basically being given a funny (and very sensibly curated) list of what’s shite. If this were an old timey print review I’d leave the rest of the page blank so Pete could finish it himself, so meticulous are his observances. For example, writing a song about being controlled by Tesco due to the lack of windows or clocks (‘Control By Buildings’) sounds literally like something I would do. I’m uncomfortable. Add to that ‘Goth Postman’ and ‘Queen Victoria’s Knob’ and we’re onto a winner. Unrelated point: the fact that the dinner ladies are playing in a band tonight might explain why spotted shirt Elvis hasn’t had his massive feed.
Following the Dinner Ladies are Italian underground legends Cut, who (in true Wigan style) come on about a day after their scheduled stage time. We’ve been running late all night, and I’m seriously dying at this point after getting in at 6am partying with While She Sleeps at Rawkus Sheffield the night before. Cut, however, have the power to make it all better – more so tonight as we’re literally underground, which I hear probably gives underground bands superpowers. Anyway, this is the first of three UK dates in two days before the Italian stallions do one back to Bologna, so the mood in the room is expectant of them to make the most of every second. Before they start, I’m reminded of the last time I saw Cut in Bolton at the Dog and Partridge (before some giant plonker tried to score a drive-thru from the bar). Their stripped back drum setup on that night demonstrated how pointless massive kits are most of the time, and as they kick off tonight it’s absolutely no different – percussionist Gaetano is smashing it like a Magaluf holiday rep. After watching him go, I might fucking slap the next band to load nine toms in to one of my events, sound engineers everywhere would stop and clap. After the first song, sweat is flowing (I’d say especially from guitarist/frontman Feruccio, but he’s bald so you can probably just see it better) and we’re into the faster-paced second half of the bill. It perhaps takes a couple of tracks for them to warm to the set, but after that Cut really run with it. While they’re less frenetic than headliners Riggots, the dirty garagey feel is there aplenty, as is the plums-out assertiveness which really wins the crowd over with both Ferrucio and Carlo wandering around the room ‘OI’ing at people and jumping all over tonight’s other bands. From a musical perspective, while Cut aren’t too caught up in technicality, their riffs thoroughly speak for themselves (check out ‘She Gave Me Water’ on their bandcamp, for example) and really come into their own in a live setting. For me, the set is winding up all too soon, with Carlo rolling into the drums with a crash before a big finish with most of the room on stage, drumsticks everywhere and huge smiles all round… Not bad for a band from over a thousand miles away. This is usually the part where I say “top that, dickheads” to the headliner, but I suspect Riggots are brewing one tonight, too. And by one, I don’t mean a pleasant fart.
On to Riggots, then, if I must – a band whose recent achievements include shaking hands with a bloke who supposedly wanked off Boy George back in the day. Guitarist Battle, complete with a ‘Straight Outta Third Reich’ haircut, is straight into the crowd from the off with a furious energy. It becomes quickly apparent, however, that strings can’t handle Riggots and we’re stopped after a particularly rampant rendition of ‘Forked Shoes’. While restringing, the bolt falls off the end of Battle’s guitar and the whole crowd gets involved in the most PG version of ‘Where’s My Nut?’ I’ve ever taken part in. Without wanting to waste further time, he Axl Roses it (sat down) on the front of the stage until some kind soul gaffer tapes the guitar to him. We’re back online after a bit of back and forth between drummer Rob and Battle, culminating in the latter being labelled a 70s Radio 1 DJ – “I’ve got it all except for the mullet and the penchant for fingering kids”. On a completely unrelated note, it definitely appears to be a younger crowd now than earlier in the night, and a cracking version of ‘Mental Skeleton’ gets the ladies dancing. They try out a brand new one which perhaps needs some tightening but has plenty of grooves, whereas following track ‘Waistcoat Blues’ simply has pure grooves. Another set you can’t really fault beyond technical nonsense no-one can help, with Rob’s pure pugilistic rage on the drums making for maximum deafness the morning after. Time for beddy byes, and I leave Bailiff’s with a new hard copy of Riggots’ album ‘In Joke’ and two thoughts in my head.
- Battle probably did the knees of his jeans in doing disco skids into the crowd all the time. His mum must be furious.
- If I had to come up with a short description of what Riggots are like, it would probably be ‘they sound like petrol smells’.
Words by Jed Saint