Dead Kennedys, Gold Blade

April 16, 2003, Manchester, UK
Gold Blade frontman John Robb is a cultural commentator with shows on TV, self-appointed standard bearer of the punk rock torch and a familiar face about town who can always be relied on for a friendly argument. His band have gone through a few line up changes and the added muscle of an extra guitarist and spritely stand up drummer serves them well. Familar old singles "Black Elvis" and "Strictly Hardcore" form the backbone of their set which sees Robb stripping to the waist and charging about like a kid half his age, climbing the PA like he's on a mission to get Joe Strummer Action Man dolls patented. When he makes a daft speech about the only valid subjects for rock songs being sex, death and revolution, I feel like bashing the silly bugger over the head with a crate of WIRE CDs and some heavy Shellac vinyl! Gold Blade might not be the most original band ever to tread the boards and whilst Rocket From The Crypt comparisons are obvious there are also a handful of songs that sound like they were written to celebrate "Shot By Both Sides" being the greatest riff ever. Robb is surely astute enough to realise that 2003 is looking like the biggest year for punk rock since the late seventies, probably in part as an opposing reaction to civil clampdown and war, and Gold Blade's angry anti-corporate stance coupled with their partying mentality might just see them in the right place. Some might say Dead Kennedys have had their day and I was worried I might end up hating a band I'd loved but I was won over pretty damn quickly about halfway through opener "Forward to Death." I shouted along and had fun with the real mixed up crowd of old punks and young 'uns. "Lets Lynch the Landlord" seemed to get the biggest singalong. I had doubts about the singer Brandon Cruz, but he did the songs justice and the band were shit hot. The guitarists in glasses Klaus Flouride and East Bay Ray are like the revenge of the uber-nerds and Cruz was certainly less active than Biafra back in the day, but then he did have his arm in a sling after breaking it the night before. There might be acrimony and rancour between Biafra and the rest of the band, but his fighting spirit was unavoidable in all those caustic critical lyrical barbs. Even if Cruz was a much less exciting performer than Biafra, dreadlocked drummer DH Peligro had enough anger and charisma for about ten bands. "Holiday in Cambodia" seemed an obviously apocalyptic choice for a finale but wasn't acyually the end of it. Klaus suffered bass strap failure but the band pulled the song back into hard shape as if they had a a knife in their backs for a bowl of rice a day. DKs charged back into a second encore featuring the two most exciting numbers of the night, a hyper "Bleed For Me" (with anti-Bush lyrical updates) and the sadly appropriate "Chemical Warfare," the chaotic breakdown with Klaus Flouride shouting being probably my favourite moment of the night. Or was that shouting "Lets Lynch the Landlord" with a bunch of people who could identify with that sentiment? Or was it the adrenaline rush of "Riot" or the pop punk slayer single that never was "Moon Over Marin"? The whole gig was just a rush of great songs and even if I'd have prefered them to have played "Halloween" or "Soup is Good Food" instead of the silly cover songs, they really couldn't have been better under the Biafra bereft circumstances.