INTERROBANG?!, EASTFIELD, THE ALCOHOL LICKS – CENTRALA, BIRMINGHAM 08/04/2018

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Tonight`s show was at the wonderful Centrala which houses Art Exhibitions and a café by day and runs some successful live music events in the evening along with some occasional music festivals such as events for the Supersonic festival. It`s a really laid back friendly sort of venue and the only place I’ve seen organic teas and coffees being sold alongside the usual alcoholic beverages and it also has what could be perceived as a little tuck shop. A different but original place to hold this evening`s event.

First up tonight are local heroes The Alcohol Licks, comprising Sam on vocals and guitar, Scott on drums and Spud on bass. As their Facebook blog says, Alcohol Licks shoves a loada genres together (e.g. punk, ska, reggae, dancehall, rock ‘n’ roll, metal, blues… u name it, we’ll murder it!), churns it up, then shits it out the other end. This pretty much sums them up and we enjoy songs like `Equality` and `Bitter and Twisted` a tale about an acrimonious relationship breakup with a wonderful full reggae beat. Sam, must be Brums hardest working musician as I’ve seen her as part of the cracking The Balsall Heathens with Jock from GBH and I know she has another couple of bands on the go, whom I’ve yet to see. This was a furious set that ended with a cover of the Dolly Parton classic `Joleen` which started in a reggae style and ended up in an all-out punk / metal assault. Terrific stuff. As a side note, Spud`s young son did a sterling job looking after the lighting and helping with the sound mix.

Next up were fellow Brummie Urban Rail Punks with Jessi on guitar and vocals, Bambi on bass and vocals, Trina on vocals and Ben on drums. Their blurb describes them as three chord punk rock with a catchy tune and a smile! Shunting up and down the country to play to whoever will have us. I know a little about them, but this was my first time seeing them, they have a love of trains, best not upset them by getting the type wrong. I might have got some titles mistaken but there was `The Last Train`, `Moral High Ground`, `Just Getting Married`, `You Aint Gotta Home` and the catchy `Back Of My Car` amongst the numerous offerings and the set ended with `Another Long And Boring Eastfield Song` that being the title, I hope. An interesting listen and I’m keen to see them again, as I think they`re a band that you need to see a few times and know some of their material, but it was enjoyable nevertheless.

On to the main course, Interrobang?! Most of the audience were a little shocked and some literally jumped when Dunstan screams the words “I`m so Taciturn, I`d nod to answer a question on the radio” through a megaphone, from the entrance of the building as he walks through the audience to join the other fellas on the stage at the front. An unnerving but superb introduction to these angry post punk rockers. “Taciturn” is a captivating song and a great way to start the show. The band are suited and booted and look like a cross between Mormons on a mission, scientologists and the gang in Reservoir Dogs, quite menacing. A piece about internet searches for certain maladies or disorders that occur in people of a certain age follows with “Asking For A Friend.” An Air Raid Siren opens “Here Now” where the band are saying we are here and we`re still relevant, shared against a brittle and catchy musical backdrop. The song finishing with the great line `I`m back in the fray. I`ve still got something to say. I don`t wanna fade away. And I’m here now. Right here. Now it`s not fuck my life; it`s fuck! My Life!” Tremendous.

“Are You Ready People?” musically is really stop start with some cracking jangly guitar riffs from Stephen, a slow-paced start and then a short speeded up interlude and then back to a more leisurely pace and is up before Dunstan stands, quite literally on a soap box, megaphone in hand and screams the lyrics to “Mad As Hell.” To underline his point, he steps down and walks through the faithful whilst sharing the angst-ridden lyrics. The recently released album is superb and we get a favorite of mine with “Curmudgeon” with it`s great line of “twisted inside and more besides, walk away, walk away” “Music Of The Gross” follows before Dunstan speaks the words to the deep and very moving reflection on his difficult relationship with his late father with “Do You Remember?” before the boys run through it again with a musical accompaniment.

The album tracks come thick and fast with “Love It All”, the quirky “Based On A True Story” and “Billingham” a sort of love song or love hate song about the writer’s birthplace and his issues with it.

Another age reflection comes in the guise of “Breathe” before concluding the performance with “Am I Invisible Yet?” I have to say this was an outstanding show, maybe because I love the new album so much, but Dunstan has lost none of his showmanship. He really twists, grimaces and pulls facial expressions to emphasize the lyrics of the songs. He bellows through a megaphone, stalks the crowd and holds up placards which state “UREST IS PROGRESS CONTENTMENT DEATH`

The band are a perfectly tight musical unit and the songs really continue their socialist and anarchistic leanings through their more mature years.
Interrobang?! certainly exploded in Birmingham tonight. A Stunning show.

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