Dog Day Afternoon / Lambrini Girls, Buzzcocks and Stiff Little Fingers

On a mild June afternoon, 20,000 descended on Crystal Palace Park, preparing to turn the clocks back 45 years or so. What was interesting was the mix of attendees, from the old punks who had been there at the beginning and were ready for a nostalgia fest to teenagers who were embracing the music of their parents, now making it their own and putting their stamp on what punk in the 21st century looks like.

Lambrini Girls – Buzzcocks – Stiff Little Fingers

Dog Day Afternoon – Crystal Palace – 1 July 2023

Words: Adrian Stonley

Photography: Aggie Anthimidou

Certainly, from this gathering, it becomes clear that punk is as relevant today as it was nearly half a century ago. Perhaps we should question society as to why it is still so relevant today as then. The drivers that created punk as an underground movement all those years ago are still with us, perhaps even more so.

From a societal perspective, we do not seem to have learned, and the social and economic failings of the late ’70s that created the space for the punk movement are still as relevant today as they were then and continue to allow this blossoming of a sub-class for those who remain disillusioned or are growing into disillusionment.

That said, in the past, it created a fertile grounding for people to express their frustrations which became grounded in the music and fashions of that time, and this grounding, both socially and musically, has enabled different generations to throw off their shackles and be united in the music of that time. Today was a day of reminiscence, celebration and uniting the generations.

Lambrini Girls

So it began on a day of classic ‘old skool’ punk we started with Headliner, Iggy Pop’s new favourite band, the fresh and vibrant Lambrini Girls. This all-girl, or perhaps Grrrl band, are a three-piece who certainly were not fazed in kick-starting events, hitting the stage at full throttle with a set of fast and feisty songs.

This is a band that are not scared to wear their hearts on their sleeves or anywhere else with pointed slogans penned across their bodies and clothes. From the first song, Big Dick Energy, they were hell-bent on having a good time and interacting with the early arrivals, with vocalist Phoebe Lunny spending as much time orchestrating the audience from within their midst as on the stage.

They have a strong and relevant gay and trans message delivered through a series of razor-sharp songs. In true punk fashion, they are certainly not scared to be provocative and controversial with a backdrop proclaiming ‘Donald Trump is a Lesbian’, although if I was a lesbian, I might be offended being linked with someone like Trump; point noted, though.

Not only are they clearly passionate about gay and trans rights, directly commented on in their recent single Help Me I’m Gay, a reach-out song to those struggling in the Gay and Trans community or Terf Wars, a reactionary comment on transphobia.

Although they are just as vociferous on other matters, be it the sexist, misogynistic and abusive lad culture found in areas of the music industry, which sadly these days is rearing its ugly head in audiences as well, pointedly commented upon in the Boys In The Band.

This a band who say what they see and do it in a striking spiky manner, encompassing those who are prepared to listen to and accept the message, knowing you can still have a good time and be respectful.

They only had a short half-hour set which sadly was cut short at the end when the allocated time expired. However, that did not stop them from going down a storm, with all three girls leaving the stage to crowd surf at the end. There’s nothing like throwing down the gauntlet to the older acts to follow, and the Lambrini’s certainly did that.

Buzzcocks

Buzzcocks - Dog Day Afternoon, Crystal Palace - 1 July 2023
Buzzcocks – Dog Day Afternoon, Crystal Palace – 1 July 2023. Photo: Aggie Anthimidou/MetalTalk

Having to follow that was the original Manchester Band, the Buzzcocks. Opening up with What Do I Get?, they instantly knew what the audience wanted and, from that point, could do no wrong. The Buzzcocks are a very different band now to the one that arrived back in 1976, with guitarist Steve Diggle as the only original left and taking over as frontman.

Buzzcocks - Dog Day Afternoon, Crystal Palace - 1 July 2023
Buzzcocks – Dog Day Afternoon, Crystal Palace – 1 July 2023. Photo: Aggie Anthimidou/MetalTalk

However, this is a band who are not sitting on their laurels, with tracks from their latest album, such as Senses Out Of Control and Manchester Rain, being well received and standing strong alongside the old classics.

Obviously, it was the old songs that the audience was waiting for, and with a final flourish incorporating the likes of Autonomy, Orgasm Addict, Promises, and, of course, Ever Fallen In Love, they had the audience who were in full party mode eating out of their hands.

Buzzcocks - Dog Day Afternoon, Crystal Palace - 1 July 2023
Buzzcocks – Dog Day Afternoon, Crystal Palace – 1 July 2023. Photo: Aggie Anthimidou/MetalTalk

Finishing with a slightly drawn-out Harmony In My Head, the band were able to open up and show their musicality and ability, not to mention that they were clearly having a seriously good time.

Again, as with many festival sets, the time is always against you and with a tight-timing operation running on stage, it seemed as though they were leaving as soon as they were starting. Clearly though reflective of a well-structured set that flew by, they left the crowd baying for more.

Buzzcocks - Dog Day Afternoon, Crystal Palace - 1 July 2023
Buzzcocks – Dog Day Afternoon, Crystal Palace – 1 July 2023. Photo: Aggie Anthimidou/MetalTalk

Stiff Little Fingers

Which is exactly what they got with the arrival of clear fan favourites, Stiff Little Fingers. Certainly, the audience reaction wracked up another level as the Sons of Belfast brought their anthemic take on the troubles to South East London. Though those dark days are generally behind us with a generation having grown up in relative peace, these tunes are still as relevant as a reminder that it would not take much to fall back to the past, and as such, remain as relevant today as a warning as they were at the time of writing.

Stiff Little Fingers - Dog Day Afternoon, Crystal Palace - 1 July 2023
Stiff Little Fingers – Dog Day Afternoon, Crystal Palace – 1 July 2023. Photo: Aggie Anthimidou/MetalTalk

Jake Burns, along with bassist Ali McMordie, are the only original members, and Burns still commands from the front whipping the audience into ecstasy with favourite after favourite. After all, what are festivals for if not to hear the hits. And that’s what SLF brought to the Palace today.

Kicking off with Tin Soldiers their A-game plan was clearly working. Like those who had played before, they were time limited, and it was clear that Jake was aware of this with regular time checks to ensure that they did not overrun.

Stiff Little Fingers - Dog Day Afternoon, Crystal Palace - 1 July 2023
Stiff Little Fingers – Dog Day Afternoon, Crystal Palace – 1 July 2023. Photo: Aggie Anthimidou/MetalTalk

That meant that the usual banter with the crowd was seriously reduced but did allow them to fit twelve songs into their slot, including a thoughtful Doesn’t Make It Easy, a cover of the Specials song as a homage to Terry Hall, who passed away last year.

Stiff Little Fingers - Dog Day Afternoon, Crystal Palace - 1 July 2023
Stiff Little Fingers – Dog Day Afternoon, Crystal Palace – 1 July 2023. Photo: Aggie Anthimidou/MetalTalk

Like the Buzzcocks before them, SLF are still looking to the future, and the new song My Dark Places was a thought-provoking piece reflecting on Jake’s own battles with depression. Sadly, for many in this post covid world, this is something that many are continuing to battle with.

Stiff Little Fingers - Dog Day Afternoon, Crystal Palace - 1 July 2023
Stiff Little Fingers – Dog Day Afternoon, Crystal Palace – 1 July 2023. Photo: Aggie Anthimidou/MetalTalk

Yet, thought-provoking as this was, there was no way that the fans were going to contain themselves with songs such as Barbed Wire Love, Wasted Life, and Gotta Getaway leading into old-time favourites Suspect Device and Alternative Ulster, which enabled the crowd to raucously sing along and to create a slightly reserved mosh pit.

I guess we’re all getting a bit older these days.

You can read about Generation Sex, Blondie and Iggy Pop, here.

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Comments

  1. Bit of a mistake calling Jake Burns the only original member. Bassist Ali McMordie is also an original member

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