The last time I saw the Subs, there were a series of almighty bundles down the front, which meant that the band had to take turns to leap into the crowd to separate various tattooed hooligans from knocking nine bells out of anyone in their immediate vicinity. No-one was hurt, and in all honesty, it was more akin to a bit of playground pushing and shoving than anything even remotely violent. Twenty years later, and not a lot has changed – well, apart from the fact that everyone is much more polite. Watching people stage dive off a stage that is about a foot high is always entertaining, but the difference here is that no-one gets a Doc Marten in the face. “After you.” “No, please, I insist – after you.” Oh, that and the fact that the stage divers all seem to be about fifty years old.
That said, no-one is quite as old as Charlie Harper, who was just about to collect his bus pass when punk kicked off over thirty years ago. He spent much of the evening behind the merchandise stall, endlessly available to any old geezer who fancied a handshake and a chat. Well, rather that than having to stand through the bloody awful support bands. Kill Tim play a pointless amalgam of ska, punk, White Riot and anything else that comes to mind during their 30 minute set, 25 minutes of which is taken up by a panicked string change. The lead singer looked about 12. At one point, my brother (gig photographer par excellence) turned to me and said, “They should be locked in a rehearsal room for the next five years.” That was just after I had my bicep felt by the crazy dreadlocked guy who used to work in Dave’s book store making enquiries about the evening’s ‘muscle quotient’ – very low, my friend, very low indeed.
The Subs crashed through their set in a little under fifty minutes – these guys have been doing this for years, so there’s no hanging about. Actually, that said, only Charlie Harper and Alvin Gibbs survive from the ‘original’ line up, but I guess it hardly matters when your stock in trade are three chord thrashalongs (which sounded surprisingly sprightly for a band just about to enter their fourth decade of playing live). Good fun, though.