Barking up a sakura, restless lads from Manchester deliver a blistering set of classic corkers.
2016 marked the 25th anniversary of this group’s triumphant return not as elder statesmen but as vigorous purveyors of punk’s reverie, yet it also was the end of an era for a comeback line-up, as their long-serving drummer Noel Kay died later in the year,and the veteran’s latest album "Vicious" would see a new rhythm section in action. It would also see “Situations” brought into the studio, a boisterous track that had been performed on-stage earlier, during the quartet’s tour of Japan, preserved for posterity here, on a record which, otherwise relies heavily on time-tested smashes – going out with a bang of the band’s debut single “Cranked Up Really High” yet setting up the scene with the relatively recent rock ‘n’ roll “I Got Your Number” as if to remind the audience of their undimmed relevance.
Of course, one can’t go wrong with eternal values of “Who Are The Mystery Girls” and other gems off “Do It Dog Style” played with enviable brilliance, Wayne Barrett singing more youthfully than back in the halcyon days and Mick Rossi’s guitar still stinging vehemently, so the likes of “Hell In New York” attain a whiff of glory and cuts such as “The Bitch” elicit non-stop cheers from the crowd. It may seem an easy task when anthemic “We Don’t Care” or infectious “Dame To Blame” are aired, but the ensemble can’t fail to engage their audience on serious and weightier “Message From A Ghost” that’s hardly familiar to each and every punter, although a raging couple of Lou Reed perennials somehow sag if compared to the Mancunians’ own fare. And honestly, who can resist the pull of “Where Have All The Boot Boys Gone?” and “I’m Mad”?
That’s the spirit of punk – kept alive long after the “No future” slogan became obsolete.