Sham 69 / Angelic Upstarts - Live in Islington (Cover Artwork)

Sham 69 / Angelic Upstarts

Live in Islington (2014)

live show

This is a gig, that anyone not born early enough to experience the punk scene in the U.K in the late 70's, like me, would dream of. Sham 69 with Jimmy Pursey at the helm, with his original 1977 lineup, in London. And I've been looking forward to this one for bloody ages.

The venue though, is about as far from punk as you can get. In the middle of a shopping centre, alongside establishments such as Wagamama, H&M, Paperchase and an Odeon, in a very expensive and upper class part of North London. It's a strange choice of venue for an old school punk gig but hey, no one seems to care as the place is buzzing with fans young and old, and full to bursting. There's enough bald heads to blind a bloke if the spotlights are turned up too high. Inside the venue looks like you've stepped into some weird zone on the Crystal Maze. No ceiling, exposed piping, lots of metal everywhere, it's a bit weird. On the plus side it has a fantastic PA and sound desk, and gigs here always sound great.

The Angelic Usptarts warm up the crowd perfectly with their brand of South Shields Oi! Mensi's vocals are still reet (yeah I did that) powerful and full of energy, and the lad can hold a tune let me tell ya! It still has all the aggression and belief in the lyrics that it had back in the 70's, and classics such as “I'm an upstart”, “Leave me alone” and “Police Oppression” are well received by the knowledgable crowd. The band are tight as fuck 'n' all, a quality performance. They finish with “White Riot”, and now the stage is set for the main event.

No one really knows what to expect from Sham. Pursey's sporadic appearances and gigs leave you wondering how rehearsed he and the band are gonna be. Pursey walks on stage dressed like a punk rock scarecrow, bits of clothing hanging off here and there, but the man sure has a presence. You can't take your eyes off him. The band open up with “What have we got”, and the crowd goes nuts, followed by the growling chant-a-long “Ulster”. Pursey's voice is in great form, and for a man who's one year short of his 60th birthday, that's pretty damn impressive. He's lost none of the angry tone or volume. It's not pitch perfect, but this is a fucking punk show. He struts around stage as he always has, with dominance, crowd in the palm of his hand, he makes Mick Jagger look like a ballet dancer. This is how it's done, Mick. Dave Parsons on guitar is superb, he holds it all together musically, and they sound freakin' good!

All that's left to do now is enjoy the hits coming thick and fast, “Borstal Breakout”, “Angels with Dirty Faces”, “If the kids are United”, Questions and Answers”, “They don't Understand”. They're all there, and after about 40 minutes the band retire. Back about 10 seconds later, and they blast out “Hersham Boys”. Pursey then states “I fucking hate this next song, but I know you love it, 'Hurry up Harry'.” The crowd goes for it one last time, and alas it's all over.

This was a great gig to go to. To see a Jimmy Pursey fronted Sham 69 live has been a dream of mine since I was a kid, and it did not disappoint. It's not musically mind blowing, but I tell you what, it was bloody fun. And if you can leave a gig saying you've had fun, what more can you ask for.