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Live review: The Rezillos

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THE REZILLOS + THE MEMBERS
The Roadmender, Northampton
February 21st

Tonight The Members are performing as a power trio and, stripped back with the absence of a second guitar, proves the band to be a multifaceted animal. Lively opener ‘Soho-A-Go-Go’ pulls the slackers in from the bar as the bass heavy ‘Offshore Banking Business’ follows. Not only is that song vitally relevant 40 years later but it’s a perfect example of how punk and reggae cross-pollinated and created a little harmony in a time of racial strife. The high energy rhythm and blues of ‘Working Girl’ swings like Dr Feelgood, and precedes the groove-laden and punchy ‘Muzak Machine’. Next they take the cool Germanic brittleness of Kraftwerk’s ‘The Model’ and infuse it with the warmth of reggae, which sounds like a strange combination, but The Members make it work by creating a whole new beast. ‘The Sound of the Suburbs’ is a song they must’ve performed thousands of times, yet they play it with an energy and respect that a song which defined a generation deserves.

Eschewing the nihilism of their peers, The Rezillos always stood apart from the prevailing punk scene into which they were birthed. Preferring to call themselves a ‘new wave beat group’ they meshed ’50s rock n’ roll and ’60s garage to ’70s glam rock, and added a touch of retro sci-fi imagery. While the Clash sang ‘No Elvis, Beatles or the Rolling Stones’ The Rezillos were busy exploring their roots, which is why they sound timeless and much of their generation seems of its time. Aided by a clear, crisp sound ‘Destination Venus’ finds them on top form with the original twin vocal attack of Fay Fife and Eugene Reynolds firing off each other. By second track ‘Flying Saucer Attack’ they’re firmly in the groove, and are propelled forward by hard-hitting drummer Angel Patterson. In a set that’s always shifting gears the high octane rockabilly of ‘It Gets Me’ sits effortlessly along side the reverb soaked ‘(Take Me To The) Groovy Room’. It’s all killer and no filler as The Rezillos play with an energy and effervescence that’d put many younger bands to shame.

A crowd pleasing set touches all bases from their debut album [1977’s Can’t Stand the Rezillos] to their critically acclaimed 2015 opus Zero with two following from that record in the shape of ‘Spike Heeled Assassin’ and the title track. Attesting to their deep roots an amphetamine-charged cover of The Beatles ‘I Wanna Be Your Man’ is played with so much velocity it veers into psychobilly territory. The distinctly garage-rock feel of ‘20,000 Rezillos Under the Sea’ is paired with another cover, a song they helped to revive: Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Somebody’s Gonna Get Their Head Kicked in Tonite’. Like The Members ‘The Sound of the Suburbs’ The Rezillos ‘Top of the Pops’ is a song that has a life of its own, appearing on almost every punk and new wave compilation that it’s overshadowed much of their other work, and with a discography as good as they’ve displayed tonight that seems a trifle unfair. Nevertheless they treat it with the respect it deserves, and there couldn’t be a better way to end the set.

However the band return for a well-earned encore. When they were forced to change their name to The Revillos [for contractual reasons] there was no drop in quality, and it’s one of those gems that closes the show in the shape of ‘Do The Mutilation’. Like The Cramps mating with the 13th Floor Elevators it provides a suitably largess conclusion that sends all home happy.

Peter Dennis

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