Gig Review: Ruts DC and The Professionals, Cambridge Junction,17th Feb 2019 @therutsdc @cambjunction

Where do you go to when you think that punk rock has turned old and grey? Why, the Junction in Cambridge of course… to witness two classic late seventies punk icons that still have a fire burning in their bellies and serious skills to demonstrate.

The Professionals

The Professionals offer a smorgasbord of familiar faces and ice cool talent – Tom Spencer (The Yo Yos) Toshi from Anti-Product and Hey Hello!, Chris McCormack from 3 Colours Red and of course a real live Sex Pistol – Paul Cook.

Chris’s guitar produced a sound that could disembowel wildebeest.

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Toshi took great pleasure in stalking the stage looking and sounding cool as hell – it was impossible to take your eyes off him.

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Spencer doesn’t seem at all fazed by being in Steve Jones’ place – and rightly so, he very much pulls it off. His vocals are joyous, his manner modest and his energy relentless. Kudos.

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At 62 years of age Cook still has attack determination and is tight as fuck. He is clearly very, very happy to be doing his thing and that was a pleasure to behold.

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An exciting, slick set – main highlights for me were Bad Baby, Silly Thing and Kick Down the Doors.

Ruts DC

Ruts DC more than did justice to “The Crack” album – albeit a marginally less frantic delivery than 1979 but with polish and class. Since 2011 Ruts DC has consisted of John “Segs” Jennings, Dave Ruffy and Leigh Heggarty.

Ruffy’s drumming in particular was demonstrative and tasteful throughout.

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Leigh Heggarty has the skills and understanding to be able to pull off Paul Fox’s intricate and often eloquent guitar parts with ease.

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Segs is a man with a glint in his eye, knowing he is filling shoes that are not his own. He does a seamless job of mimicry and impressionism, although Malcolm Owen’s feral 1979 snarl is replaced by something smoother and more matured.

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Highlights include the staggering Jah War, Human Punk, SUS and Out of Order.

It was almost blissful to hear this entire classic record in its original sequence.

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Ruts DC are as potent and relevant as they ever were, if you’ve not witnessed them live yet you bloody well need to.

I was blown away.

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Gig Review: The Divine Comedy at The Junction, Cambridge, 20th October 2016 @divinecomedyhq @lisaoneillmusic @cambjunction

At 5pm on a dreary Thursday evening, I received a message telling me that I had been added to the guest list with a photo pass for The Divine Comedy that very evening. A few panicked moments of organising childcare ensued, and I was then on the road to Cambridge to photograph one of my favourite ever bands! My car was filled with a frisson of excitement for the next hour and 15 minutes.

On arrival, The Junction was already pretty full, and it was very apparent that every person there felt exactly as I did.

Support act Lisa O’Neill was the perfect opener to The Divine Comedy.

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With her far-fetched tales (including one where she ended up making Irish stew for Elvis Presley), and her voice that made me imagine she only consumes the most luxurious chocolate and nothing else, she impressed, captivated and tickled the fancy of her audience.

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She was utterly delightful, and nicely set the tone for what was to come.

Setlist:

The Galway Shawl

Nasty

Elvis, I Give You Irish Stew

Pothole in the Sky

Planets

Sparkle

The time soon arrived for Neil Hannon and his band of quirky men to grace the stage. Hannon’s droll wit was immediately evident, just as I had hoped.

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I have always listened to The Divine Comedy’s intricate, classy tunes with fondness. To witness them live was beyond what I could have expected. Their fresh, lively compositions speaking of romance, laced with comedy and regaling the history of 18th century Russia both entertain and charm the audience in equal measure.

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Hannon himself is the ever-present member of the band when others have come and gone. He is the design behind the output. He may be small of stature, but he is superhuman in personality. Without his intelligent, odd, gentlemanly, mischievous, sincere, kooky ways, there would be no such music in the world.

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That evening, I was enchanted, bedazzled and fascinated, and left wanting more… there is no better sign of a great gig than that!

Setlist:

Down in the Street Below

Assume the Perpendicular

Bad Ambassador

Bang Goes the Knighthood

The Complete Banker

Generation Sex

Our Mutual Friend

Alfie (Cilla Black cover)

The Certainty of Chance

Sweden

How Can You Leave Me on My Own

To the Rescue

Count Grassi’s Passage Over Piedmont

The Frog Princess

A Lady of a Certain Age

Catherine the Great

Funny Peculiar (with Lisa O’Neill)

At the Indie Disco

Something for the Weekend

Becoming More Like Alfie

I Like

National Express

Encore:

Absent Friends

Songs of Love

Tonight We Fly