||UK Decay @ Drop Dead Festival VI
From the perspective of Steve Spon
I guess it is unusual for artists or musicians to write reviews of their own
performances. But so many people over the last few months have been asking me
what it was like to play again that I decided to write some of my experiences
Written below is my experience with UK Decay at Drop Dead Festival VI, with
no apologies made for lack of critique. Please bear in mind that the below text
is my account from my perspective. How I felt from
where I was standing.
I must mention that Abbo’s performance was absolutely remarkable, considering
the sadness and grief that he was going through in his personal life over that
weekend. What strength of character the man has, much respect!
The account below is an excerpt from a larger body of writing that I have
been working on, my take on the twenty first century UK Decay! I don’t
have any plans as yet to the outcome of this work, I may keep going until there
is enough for a book, or I may just blog it! I am open to suggestions.
a couple of names below need explaining
Nickey = The Sixteens tour manager, an English guy who stood in to help us liase
with the Sound guys when they were having problems with the sound.
Polina = NY Decay: The organizer of the Drop Dead Festival
Giant concrete Coffin = The Festival was held at different venues across Lisbon.
The night before someone had described the venue that we were to be playing
at, as a ‘giant concrete coffin’. It was actually a large concrete
chambered former warehouse, converted into a nightclub.
Havering Crew: I think some of them come form there? Rob Grim, Steve, Dave and
Lee. Nice one guys!even if you were a bit boisterous, you meant well and we
had a great time together.
*General De Gaul finished to a rapturous applause, there was
a great atmosphere in the giant concrete coffin and now it was time for us to
move onto stage to set up. We shimmied into the dressing room and started getting
our shit together, spirits were high we were glad our moment was finally on
us. Abbo was practising his Marshall Arts moves whilst I did a power dance for
a few moments. We vibed ourselves up. I put on my new camouflage Zandana and
made the decision to wear the headlamp, as it was dark onstage. Bone had set
up the pedals and dialled in the settings for me, I nipped out and had a quick
look - see check; everything seemed ok, we were ready!
I downed my taurene drink quickly and Polina was now introducing us to the
audience. As she said the words “Please welcome, the legendary
UK DECAY!” We moved onto the stage.
A roar of applause rang out as we settled into position
"Good evening" Abbo said, then he introduced the Night for Celebration
and clapped his hand and we were off. The monitor sound was awful but just enough
for us to get through to the end of Unwind, the first song. The audience who
were thronging and whoopee-ing down the front however, didn’t seem too
bothered so we steamed into Jerusalem. Camera flashes were briefly lighting
up large sections of the crowd highlighting a festival of Mohawk and Erazorhead
hair do’s. It took a couple of songs before the sound improved, by mid
way through Rising from the Dread we had settled in. Although we made a couple
of minor cock-ups in the earlier songs, I already felt a lot happier than I
did at our last gig, the Sub Club. I was beginning to feel on top of my guitar
playing rather than struggling to keep it together. However, Abbo was struggling
to hear himself and asked for his voice to be turned up in the monitors. Ray
and ED had settled down nicely and were pounding out the rhythms. Despite Abbo’s
problems, he was working the stage like a proper madman. The lighting was predominantly
low, with flashes from strobe lights and cameras. I could just make out the
Havering crew, dancing in the mid distant crowd. The heat was building.
I particularly enjoyed playing The Black Cat and Decadance, which I felt we
had played the most fluently since reforming the band. As we neared the end
of House of Flames, my main worry was the tuning on my second guitar that I
use for the following songs Testament and then Stagestruck. The second guitar
was tuned a whole note below standard and was sensitive to environmental conditions.
As Testament is a rich harmonically based song, it is very important to be spot
on with the tuning and I would have to rely on my ears to check it.
The tuning seemed good and Ray and I pounded into the intro, as Abbo started
singing the words, people in the front started singing along. Many knew the
words, which made it very important for us to play the song well. I think we
pulled it off, that brought a big smile to my face. With the last words of the
Testament, a mighty round of applause went out from the crowd. I quickly checked
the tuning and ED started the bass rolling for Stagestruck, which back in the
day was one of our live favourites. I stamped my flanger box, ripped out the
chords and moved about the stage, trying to avoid Abbo along the way. I glanced
at ED who was bouncing his bass along and at Ray who was deep in concentration
and ran back to turn off the flanger for the chorus, the crowd seemed to love
it and so did I.
Bone returned my main guitar, whilst Abbo chatted to the crowd.
Barbarian’s tribal drumming intro had me looking for the Roland Space
Echo switch. To get the sound right I have to tap the rhythm in correctly. It
took a couple goes but I got there in the end. I enjoyed playing the high cadences
in the new end section; it felt well received.
We had planned to play For Madmen Only, but came the moment and Abbo’s
monitors were simply not up to it. For Madmen relies on subtle dynamics and
good monitoring is essential.
Shame really as it played and sounded powerful in rehearsals, but I respect
Abbo’s decision not to do it. One for next time!
Sexuall was and is short and to the point, the crowd loved it they always
The thought struck me that many of those singing along, were not even born
when we last played these songs back in 1982.
Next was Unexpected Guest, another live favourite from back in the day. This
song was a nightmare for me back at the Sub Club in June. But tonight was different,
the sounds were singing and in tune and the steady beat and bass thundering.
Abbo was in fine form as he built up the falls and rises in tension, I was really
enjoying myself and was sure the others were, as the Unexpected Guest finally
rolled down to the last cadence.
Next was Werewolf, I had given Nicky the CD of the growlings to play before
the song started. It was a bit strange to stand there for three minutes doing
nothing while the growling was building up. Werewolf was usually a set opener.
Back in the day, we would wait offstage until necessary and then take to the
stage. Nevertheless, this didn’t seem to distract from the electric atmosphere
of the occasion and as the dying growls echoed across the hall we plunged into
the opening dark soundscape section. A couple days earlier, I had stayed up
all night creating some dripping ambiences to enhance this part of the song,
leaving room to play about with some of the larger live harmonics and feedback.
I had wanted to try it out in the sound check but at the time, the CD player
was not working.
As Werewolf progressed, I was reasonably happy with the live feedback and oscillations
from my guitar. Ray and ED were winding up the rhythms and Abbo was prowling
about the stage, wolf like. Finally, we hit the crescendo where the song cuts
to vocals and guitar and bashed out the end section, albeit to a slightly shorter
format than the recorded version.
Werewolf was always a killer track for us to perform live, needing massive amounts
of stamina particularly from the drumming point of view. We only played it a
handful of times towards the later half of 1982, we knew that it would be a
pertinent track to perform in front of this audience and so it had to be. It
was a challenge enjoyed!
I felt a tinge of sadness that our show was about to end. Abbo said goodbye
and we walked offstage to a roar of applause.
A rhythmical chant of UK- DK bellowed throughout the hall and into the dressing
room where we were drying off. I grabbed a mouthful of water and followed the
others back onto the stage; Abbo grabbed Polina and placed her in front of ED’s
microphone. He then moved back to his own mic and belted out FOR - MY –
COUNTRY and we crashed in with the opening chords. With arms in the air, the
general mosh in front of us swayed and thronged along to the verse. When the
chorus line came up, Abbo again passed his microphone down to the crowd in front
of him.. FOR - MY – COUNTRY. I sang as well and looked over to Polina
and ED who also sang. It sounded like everybody in the building was singing
it was a great buzz. Before long, we were at the end of the song again.
Again we left the stage, we needed to consult on what song we might do if asked
back for another encore. The UK- DK chant was starting again, with Polina leading
it! Abbo surprised Polina from behind; picking her up and spinning her around
as we walked back onstage. After a quick word with Polina, Abbo announced Sexual
and we went straight into the song for the second time of the evening.
We said goodbye once more and returned to the dressing room, this time thinking
that was it, but the crowd still wanted more! Eventually Polina popped her head
into the changing room and said that we must do one more song, could it be Testament
Oh no I thought, the tuning was certain to be out, I quickly warned the others
that I would need to tune up before we started. We returned to the stage amidst
the UK- DK chant for the fourth time of the evening. Whilst tuning the guitar,
Abbo addressed the crowd. ED gave me a G and I checked the last couple of strings
and felt I was in tune as close as anyway and we bashed out Testament again.
And again, the crowd were singing along, with even more vigour than the previous
time, that will be my memory of Drop Dead 2008, with that we left the stage
for the final time.
In the dressing room, Abbo plonked himself down on the settee and pulled out
his bare tummy. Look what this has done to my stomach, he said. I looked and
saw it panting up and down; I guessed that he was trying to say he was exhausted;
he had every reason to be. I felt jubilation and relief and was now ready for
a beer again and is if by magick, one appeared in my hands almost right away.
Ed and Ray were both smiling I could tell they were happy. Over the next twenty
minutes, there was a steady stream of visitors asking us to sign autographs,
sometimes on their copies of our records, or on flyers or even drumsticks. Ray
later said that he felt funny signing autographs; I told him that I used to
feel that way, but had now come to terms with it. Eventually we got our stuff
packed up and went out to mingle in the remaining couple of hours of the party.
DJ’s were now playing out to the dance floor and the crowd was slowly
beginning to disperse, Our set had began at 4am and ended an hour later at 5am,
the festival closed at 7am.
Steve Spon October 2008
From a body of work loosely titled " UK Decay in the twety first
From the chapter "Drop Dead VI Weekend"
Video stills of UK Decay:
Captured by Bone's Casio Digital Camera
Obrigada to Bone, Polina and the NY Decay - Drop Dead