Me First & The Gimme Gimmes – Shepherd’s Bush Empire (28 February 2014)

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What was I saying about the ironic cover version? *sigh*

The cover version has always had a place in punk. But, there’s a gulf of difference between the Toy Dolls‘ pissed up Nelly The Elephant and Dead Kennedys‘ appropriation of Viva Las Vegas. Sadly, it’s the former that’s become a standard. A shabby shortcut for bands to not have to bother with their own material. You don’t have to win a crowd, just throw them the bone of a tune they know, preferably to close with, and at least they’ll leave whistling one of your numbers. It’s cheap and cynical. And, shows a staggering disrespect for your audience. It’s cheap thrills. Rebellion without the danger. Live music with no investment. I’m as guilty as the next man.

I first came across So-Cal punk supergroup Me First & The Gimme Gimmes on one of the Fat Wreck Chords‘ compilation albums. Their cover of John Denver‘s Country Roads completely blew me away. It turned out this is what they did – punked up covers.  And, they seemed fun.  Why not go see them.  Am I just a grumpy old man?  Even if we write off any ideas of subversion or meaning; just treat this as a good-natured energetic celebration of songwriting.  It’s two songs in and I’m really not enjoying this.  It’s like the worst wedding ever.

The bust out Science Fiction Double Feature and the group of local government workers all squeezed into matching Primark Hawaiian shirts next to me go craaaazy. And, I realise, it’s the Rock Horror Show or somesuch other communal dress up and have a good time even that normal people love. And, for which, I have a great distaste (no, it’s not fear).

Strangely, it’s Denver’s Leaving on a Jet Plane that provides the only other song that seems to work.  So, tonight we’ve learnt that punk is not a million miles from country.  Wow, well that’s a revelation… That would make this lot Sydney Devine?

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Written by Tony Kiernan

03 March 2014 at 6:09 pm

Posted in Gigs, London, Music

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