Four decades after forming the short-lived band Desperate Measures in his native New Zealand, Eugene Butcher the singer– and noted punk journalist – has assembled a new line up, released new music and luckily for the assembled crowd is playing live again.
The new band radiate real energy, playing cool driving grooves and licks from the Johnny Thunders school of trashy rock’n’roll with the anger of punk. They play a great opening set that has some great anthems. ‘Scars and Memories’ is full of slick guitar riffs while ‘Lost Angels’ is rammed with chugging bass and frenetic drums. Single ‘Flowers At Your Door’ is slower and darker, that brings reminders of the Cult. They know how to craft a tune and their set flew by too quickly, so must get to see them again.
JC Carroll (The Members)
JC Carroll (The Members) played a solo semi-acoustic set of his own songs, cover songs and of course a few Members classics that the crowd all know. He has always been a brilliant raconteur and can hold the crowd with ease like the seasoned pro he is.
The packed in crowd are with him all the way and participate in singing along to many of the songs and especially the Members’ ‘Solitary Confinement’ ‘Sound of the Suburbs’ and a great cover of Sex Pistols’ ‘Anarchy in the UK’. He throws in his reworked version of Edith Piaf’s ‘No Regrets’ to round off an excellent set.
The room was rammed and why wouldn’t it be given the quality of the album and the members of the band. With Paul Gray (The Damned), Baz Warne (The Stranglers), Marty Love (Johnny Moped), Leigh Heggarty (Ruts DC) and Rob Coombes (Supergrass), it was always going to be a good one.
As the last bars of ‘633 Squadron’ sound they fly straight into ‘Starting Blocks’, the opening instrumental track from their self- titled album. Baz Warne takes the mic for ‘Last Cigarette’, as the band work their way through their set full of excellent album tracks and covers of tracks they have played or have influenced them over the years.
The band have their own sound and the front three gave an exceptional performance on guitars and vocals and clearly enjoy playing as a band. Paul Gray swinging his bass and Leigh Heggarty’s bouncing around and playing solos and some slide guitar. Baz Warne does the ‘banter’ and is a class player. Baz thanks JC Carroll for supporting and tells us all to buy all JCs merch as Leigh plays the opening riff to Sound of the Suburbs like a human punk jukebox.
The set as the album is varied in tempo and style and Marty Love drives the momentum with cool drum licks. ‘Louie Smoked The Bible’ is class and ‘Brits’ pretty much sums up where we are as a country at present. Rob Coombes (Supergrass) on keys brought an extra dimension to the live performance and fits perfectly into the band. He makes tracks like ‘Down in The Whole’ sound as they should.
A Stranglers song was played as one of several covers, ‘Long Black Veil’ from 2004 album ‘Norfolk Coast. ‘Oh! What A Carry On’, ‘Backstage At The Opera’, ‘Raining Over England’ and The Stooges’ classic ‘I Got A Right’ are an excellent end to the main set.
The band couldn’t have chosen a better variety of cover songs –Bowie’s ‘Hang On To Yourself’, The Model’ by Kraftwerk, and the two encores; ‘Do Anything You Wanna Do’ (Eddie and the Hotrods) ‘ and a rocked up version of T-Rex’s ‘Solid Gold Easy Action’ straight into the chorus from ‘Pumping On Your Stereo’ by Supergrass finishing the night on a high.
For those who have been listening to the album, it was so good to see Wingmen got out to play these tracks live and for those who didn’t make it tonight I would suggest you get a ticket when they play later in the year as the lyrics, and their individual and collective musicianship at times is truly mesmerising.
The band members came out to speak with the fans, sign merch and pose for selfies – they genuinely appreciate the reception the album and live performances have had. We all had a lot of time to think and reflect in lockdown and this set probably reflects all that stuff for this band. Seeing this band of punk (and Brit Pop) royalty play was a great experience. Happy Days are Here Again
- Starting Blocks
- Last Cigarette
- Louie Smoked The Bible
- Hang On To Yourself – David Bowie
- I Would If I Could
- Down In The Hole
- Long Black Veil – The Stranglers
- Mary Go Round
- The Model – Kraftwerk
- Don’t Look Back
- Oh! What A Carry On
- Backstage At The Opera
- Raining Over England
- I Got A Right – The Stooges
- Do Anything You Wanna Do – Eddie and the Hotrods
- Solid Gold Easy Action – T-Rex
- Pumping On Your Stereo (chorus) – Supergrass