Sounds - November 1980
Slade/U2/Discharge at The Lyceum - Garry Bushell
Euphoria, excitement, acclaim, celebration - you name it, Slade commanded it tonight, roaring out of the swirling mists of time like conquering heroes returning to their native land.
'Retrogression' you scream. 'Bollox' I say, Slade were by far the punkiest band on the bill, but then the opposition weren't that hot.
Discharge oozed on first with all the grace and appeal of a syphilitic sore. Crassland refugees from grim old Stoke and frontline heroes of the even grimmer underground-punk mentality. Discharge supported a setries of painful bursts of indistinguishable noise totally bereft of such essentials as choons and singalong choruses.
If it weren't for the fact that they threw in a few mumble between songs I'd have been convinced that they were playing one long-winded 40 minute concept number, doubtless dedicate to the destruction of four years of musical progress. Natch the smattering of Crass fans present loved every pustulent minute and the band encored on the strength of two farts and a cough down the front.
U2 came as a brief relief, sounding initially so much more positive than all that puerile pretend punk. But the magic soon wore thin as the cracks beneath the band's polished edifice became more and more apparent. Firstly the newer material confirmed impressions that U2 are letting their pretensions run away with them, moving from the joyous pop gems that made their initial appearances so refreshing to tedious drawn-out yawns that even The Edge's often breathtaking fretwork fluency couldn't compensate for. And secondly Bono's glum, self-satisfied pronouncements became increasingly offensive as the night progressed. It seemed like he's beginning to believe the messianic treatment he's getting from the self-styled radical press - a real cotton wool job that lest him get away with outrageous nonsence e.g. advocating Adam And Eve over Darwin without being pulled up about it. Underneathe the glittery surface U2 would appear to be nurturing some severely unhealthy elements...
Which is more than can be said for Slade, who presented one of the most pleasurable hours of yob-rock it's been my pleasure to oi-oi to this year. The atmosphere had enough electricity to supply the domestic power needs of the USA for five years - the crowd was like a huge slice of the Kop 80 minutes into a 5-0 thrashing - and Slade fed off it growing huger and more manic before our very eyes.
Honestly I'd put money on it that this ain't the same band I watched striving rather desperately at the MM last year. It's as if the Reading triumph and the Top Fifty EP has pumped 'em full of new adrenalin and energy and confidence because the stage literally exploded in a mass of smoke bombs, silly trousers, toppers, bowlers, whooping and a-wailing and other expressions of purest glee.
I must admit that I'd only come along to see the old classics - 'Everyday', 'Take Me Bak 'ome', 'Cum On Feel The Noize', 'Gudbye T' Jane', 'Mamma Weer All Crazee Now', 'Get Down And Get With It' et al - but like the old one goes nostalgia ain't what it used to be and before I knew it I was quite frankly swept off my feet by the sheer hard-rocking power of the reborn band.
The new Slade hit with the power of an out of control subway train putting most of the much mooted NWOBHM to shame. 'Night Starvation' is a case in point, possessing more balls than a bingo caller and featuring Jimmy and Dave pogoing goofily along to its punky pace. Other highlights had to include the arms-in-air-with-imaginary-scarf classic 'Everyday' and the show-stealing (relative) newie 'The Wheels Ain't Coming Down', and as encore justifiably followed encore the evening dissolved in my memory as a gorgeous celebration of high energy entertainment, random football chants and carefree singsonging. Sham were never this good at it.