The Expletives, 14th February 2015, Swiss Cottage, Peterborough
When I walked into The Swiss Cottage pub on 14th February 2015, the air was bristling with a kind of nervous energy that is specific to a pre-gig atmosphere. Whether it’s a huge arena with a million pound budget or a tiny, cramped pub with a dartboard as a backdrop, that excitement is very much present.
On surveying the scene, I quickly noticed the band was busy setting up in a tiny “stage” area, like they were playing a game of Jenga with guitar amps; the post-football-game crowd was dispersing ; a small group of obviously close friends were sitting off to the side near the mixing desk, chatting and laughing together; people were propping up the bar, drinking away their woes perhaps, or catching up with friends after a long week. Nothing out of the ordinary here – just your average Saturday night down the local, where a band happens to be playing. Right?
Wrong! I was there to see The Expletives, an alternative covers band from Peterborough, formed only 10 months ago and borne of a shared love for 70s Punk and New Wave music. Singer Sean Dunleavy and guitarist/bassist Angus Mackman have played together extensively in various bands, most recently and currently in Filthy Lucre, a Sex Pistols tribute band. They knew the exact formula they wanted for The Expletives, and quickly recruited 19 year old drummer Luke Pasco and 17 year old bassist Joel Bowyer. Don’t let those young ages disillusion you – these lads REALLY know what they’re doing. I hope that doesn’t sound patronising!
The band is on at 9.30pm and immediately burst into action with “Blitzkrieg Bop” – it’s a kick-ass, attention grabbing, exuberant start, and a sign of the good things to come.
Blasting out “Borstal Breakout”; “A Bomb in Wardour Street” and “Denis Denis”, it is evident that frontman Sean loves a bit of crowd interaction, and I like that he has no fear of getting close to individuals, who more often than not react well and join in! He’s not even phased by a couple of stony glances or the heckling. By the end of “Denis Denis”, people are up and dancing, and the atmosphere is nicely upbeat.
The well-honed performance continues with “London Calling” – the band and the crowd are feeding off each other’s energy here, which is joyous to see!
Next up is The Expletives’ take on “Tainted Love” – a feisty, lung-bursting version which enables Angus to display his ace guitar techniques.
Hammering through classics such as “Suspect Device”; “Silly Thing”; “Babylon’s Burning” – the drums on this are incredibly difficult, and damn well executed – Luke is a rising star, that’s for sure – and “Here Comes the Summer”, the first set comes to a close with “Leaving Here”, where Joel’s bass sounds absolutely sublime; “Hanging on the Telephone” and “Anarchy in the UK”. The crowd is on top form, and the band members are dripping with sweat.
After a much needed refreshment break, The Expletives are back for set two, which is equally as triumphant and powerful as the first. Giving us their take on “God Save the Queen”; “Stepping Stone”; “Milk & Alcohol”, full of dirty sounding vocals and sexy bass sounds galore; “Hurry Up Harry” and “Too Much Too Young”, this band are relentlessly energetic in their delivery. It’s a pleasure to witness.
The musical onslaught continues with “Baggy Trousers”; “Kick Out the Jams”, which includes a delightfully jaw-dropping guitar solo; “All Around the World” and “Love Song”. I find myself thinking these guys are having such a good time, and have got such a great connection, that they might just want to carry on playing forever…
However, all good things do eventually somehow come to an end. Sometimes, though, it’s an enthusiastic, exciting end – that’s what The Expletives give us. “Jilted John”; the crowd pleasing “Should I Stay or Should I Go”; “Rockaway Beach”; “New Rose”, which Sean dedicates to his wife; and “Pretty Vacant”. It’s all genuinely raucous, dynamic and fiery. People watching and listening are on the band’s side, dancing and singing along with the music, and that’s got to be a very good thing!
Whoops and cheers persuade the guys to come back, and they not so gently ease us out with “I Fought the Law” and “If the Kids are United”. By popular demand, they then replay “Borstal Breakout” and “Babylon’s Burning” (Luke’s face was a picture – he must have been hurting by then!).
I came away from this gig feeling exhilarated and almost as worn out as the band must have felt! Excellent music played by people who enjoy what they do and are bloody good at it too. Can’t complain at that at all!!
In essence, The Expletives are a must see band, who are gigging furiously in the Greater Peterborough area this year. There are no excuses – get following their facebook page or MySpace to keep up to date with their whereabouts, or to contact them to book a gig! You won’t be sorry.
All photographs used in this article are owned by and copyright to Adam Pasco. Please do not use any image without prior consent. Thank you.