VETERAN punk band 999 have always maintained a tremendous live following and writing a song and mentioning a venue in it that they played frequently always guarantees them a sold out show – at least on Teesside, where the band, 37 years on from their debut at Northampton Cricket Club, have always been popular.
Middlesbrough Rock Garden played a pivotal part in cementing a volatile music scene back in the day, so tonight’s penultimate Rock Garden Revisited show is one that had been eagerly awaited. Tickets for the 180-capacity venue had sold out five weeks in advance.
‘English Wipeout’ from 1980s The Biggest Prize in Sport still remains a staple live favourite along with some very impressive early singles – I’m Alive, Emergency, Nasty Nasty and Homocide, all played with same energy and enthusiasm from 30 plus years ago. Nick Cash carries the gig along sprinkled with sound bite anecdotes about the band’s early days, always fascinating to catch.
‘Live performance footage courtesy of Paul Standing & Dave Shaw, enjoy
999s brief flirtation with the charts – Homocide made No.40 in 1979 the week there was a strike at the BBC and Top of the Pops wasn’t broadcast that week. Several minor hits later and the band then spent long periods playing in the USA and Europe. The 1980s hailed a new direction and the band released several singles inspired by a love of the composer Ennio Morricone of spaghetti western-fame by releasing a trio of like-minded singles in Obsessed, Indian Reservation and Wild Sun.
Vocalist/singer Nick Cash is virtually unrecognisable from his days working with Ian Dury in Kilburn & The High Roads. He still possesses one of the most unique vocal styles this side of the Manic Street Preachers. Lead guitarist Guy Days provides the perfect foil for him whilst Arturo of The Lurkers & Pinpoint-fame has been in the band now for over 20 years, plays to the gallery by beckoning audience involvement.
Newer songs like Gimme The World and Last Breath are peppered with live favourites such as Feeling Alright With The Crew and Boys in the Gang. As the gig approaches its inevitable conclusion the band ramp up the atmosphere as the familiar chords to Emergency ring out. The crowd goes wild and then Nasty Nasty follows as a mini stage invasion takes place. Then its straight into Homocide as several additional audience members join the band and assist on the chorus, harking back to the really good days of Middlesbrough Rock Garden. The band return for a two song encore and are then gone for good. Feeling Alright With The Crew? – You Bet! 8.8/10
Photos copyright of Kenny ‘The Beard’ Dryden