It has now become an annual event for several years. The 100 Club host a punk festival that runs over a week and a half. It's a win win for punters and venue alike. For the gig-goer it offers great, affordable entertainment during those doldrum months of January and February. For the venue it fills in space in what could otherwise be a barren calendar and brings money in at the door and over the bar.
A second January tradition has also established itself, one that annually scuppers at least some of my plans for Resolution and that is the rail network. For several years on the trot, Network Rail have opened up extensive engineering works throughout the first month of the year. The only option on impacted days is the dreaded replacement bus service. I am sure it is not just me but getting into London for a midweek gig when tomorrow is a work day is much harder these days than it ever was in the past! And that is when the trains are running a normal service. With the bus replacement option I cannot do the additional journey time after midnight of nearly 90 minutes.... and neither can my 54 year old post-gig bladder, if you get my meaning!
This year there was something of a plot alteration as the disruption of the engineering works was compounded by industrial action by members of the RMT and ASLEF (although don't take that as a condemnation of the strikes, I only mention it as an additional barrier to seeing all of the bands that I wanted to see).
In the event, it was just the two bands (or gigs rather) that I got to see. The UK Subs and 999. I am aware that the Subs have made public their intention to slow up a bit. Gigs will be scaled back meaning the end to big tours and who can really blame them? In years gone by, UK Subs T-shirts did not bear the slogan 'On Tour Forever' for nothing! For many years, as the song says, Charlie Harper really did 'Live in a Car'. Now 78 years old Charlie has earned his punk rock spurs ten times over and more. The various and multitudinous incarnations of the band have taken us right through the alphabet with album releases and beyond. So fair play to the Subs for their 47 years of service so far.
In short, whilst UK Subs were a constant presence on the punk live circuit, opportunities to see them will diminish from now on, so I will grasp the chances as and when I can.
Pre-gig, the band were loosening limbs and vocal chords with Gaye in 'The Blue Posts' in Newman Street (which has seemed to have displaced 'The Ship' in Wardour Street as a preferred warm up watering hole).
Into the venue then. I missed the support, 'The Mistakes' The Subs hit the stage with a powerful version of 'Emotional Blackmail' and from then on in the band went on to deliver a rapid fire set of 21 songs, the majority of which were lifted from the first five years of the band's career. Most of the key singles were present and correct, the likes of 'Tomorrow's Girls', 'CID', 'Keep On Running' and 'Party In Paris' kept the crowd well entertained as did the set's closing number 'Teenage'. I wonder if a tally has been kept of all the gigs the band have played, I am sure they have, and it will significantly into 4 figures and certainly this far down the line they didn't disappoint at all.
Charlie seemed to be very happy to be back for the night in London and it was abundantly clear that a reciprocal London were very happy to have him there.