Lightyear – Mean Fiddler, London

By Andy

With the return of one of the UK’s best-loved bands to the capital taking place at the most soulless and frustrating of venues, the Mean Fiddler, the early doors meant that GROWN AT HOME had to contend with the fact that, to most people, 5.30pm on a glorious Saturday afternoon means pub o’clock. All credit to them that they managed to attract a sizeable crowd for their bouncy ska-punk. Looking slightly daunted by the large stage, they only came alive when playing the familiar songs from their self-titled EP, with ‘One Up’ and ‘Don’t Be a Menace’ being the best received, but theirs remained a set characterised by bursts of energy rather than a sustained high tempo. Nevertheless it’s clear that they’re still very much learning their craft and while tonight wasn’t a classic show, it was promising (6).

THE STEAL stepped up to the plate and proceeded to up the pace by a ridiculous factor. Playing melodic hardcore like Kid Dynamite if they’d been brought up just outside Zone 6, they bounded around the stage spitting out crunchy riffs and thudding beatdowns that all meshed together to create a thrilling live show. Rich Phoenix’s breathless drumming grabbed the crowd by the collective genitalia and refused to let up as proto-anthem after proto-anthem pummelled into the assembled crowd. What made them so exciting to watch was the perfect balance between melody and rhythm, galvanised by enough kinetic energy to tire out the most Ritalin-dependant of children. Blinder (8)

But when the mighty ADEQUATE SEVEN step onto a stage you can hear the gentle noise of the bar being raised. Settling quickly onto the large stage, something that they seem born to get used to, they ripped out a set full of as many old favourites (‘State We’re In’, ‘Gotta Stay Focused’ and a sublime ‘Free The Adequate Seven’) as new gems. ‘King Leopold’s Ghost’ and ‘Head Up High’ sound like they should be reverberating out of every sound system in the land and it appears that they have finally become comfortable mixing old and new without feeling beholden to their past. If anything is obvious while watching this band it’s that whatever they do, you can dance like a crazy loon to it ? if there’s any other way of measuring if music is worthwhile or not, I’m yet to find it (9).

THE KING BLUES are the revelation of the night. A languid mix of deep ska and Itch‘s characteristic rudeboy vocals, they made the whole of the now-massive crowd bob their heads and look around them to see where that weed smell’s coming from. Dropping in a modified version of ‘Guns of Brixton’ is a masterstroke, as it instantly locates them in the tradition of protest music, as songs railing against the BNP and fascism nail home. They’re clearly a band with something to say, and watching them entertain at the same time is a lesson to anyone that thinks that politics and punk shouldn’t be mixed. Maybe sandwiched between Ad7 and Lightyear isn’t the ideal spot for them but even in such adverse surroundings, they triumphed (8)

When you’re disappointed that Chas hasn’t already got his cock out by the time LIGHTYEAR launch into ‘Pack of Dogs’, it’s time to sit back and think about how much this band has been missed. Filling their set with glorious oldies like ‘Kid Dynamite‘ and ‘Oh No, Not Me Arteries’ (and a superbly messy ‘Spotcheck’, of course) and the more upbeat side of ‘Chris Gentleman’s…’ like ‘Data’s Double Chin’ and ‘Nuff Cuts’, the Derby mob showed that they’ve still got the essential mix of blind insanity, humour and simple, pure energy that has made them one of the most adored bands to have ever come out of this country. At times they looked slightly overwhelmed with the constant stream of adulation directed towards them but tonight was always going to be the party at the end of the world. ‘Positive Outlook’ was the mass sing-a-long that everyone craved and no one went home without a huge grin on their face. Yet another final London gig, yet another ache at the thought that we’ll never see another band like Lightyear again.