マンチエスターでは。二千十二年八月八日。「A PAGE OF PUNK」と言う日本のパンクバンドは着いた。
In my quest to discover a range of Japanese cultural experiences, last night I went to watch a Japanese punk band called A Page of Punk play at the Bay Horse on Thomas Street in Manchester’s Northern Quarter.
Have you ever witnessed pure elation of expression? Have you ever seen anyone doing something just for the sheer hell of it and having a brilliant time in the process? When a friend told me that the band was going to be playing in Manchester, I never dreamed that this was what I would see. Exuberant joy at the pleasure of playing live music in another country to people who were loving it as much as the band.
Four bands played before them in the tiny downstairs room at the Bay Horse. We caught two of them: Pooch (whom I liked very much – they reminded me of the band Stinking Lizaveta from Philadelphia, but with added fun and surreal asides) and Pure Graft (also good, very energetic, hard core rock).
All the while these bands were playing, members of A Page of Punk were milling around or selling merchandise or grazing at the fruit and dip laden rider. One of the guitarists sold me a CD and a badge, telling me excitedly that they would be on next.
I wasn’t prepared for what happened. The sound check seemed normal – lots of shouting into mics and checking leads. The singer was sporting a 50s rocker look, all cheek bones and quiff and skinny jeans.
Then he disappeared and something seemed to happen to the fabric of existence. The band set off at break-neck speed and something golden and glittery appeared at the back of the room. It moved around the edges of the crowd and reappeared at the side of the stage. What a transformation! Black panda eyes and a gold lamé jacket had replaced the aviators and black shirt of earlier, and a banana was inexplicably clenched between his teeth.
A riot of noise and broken English ensued.
I have never watched such a physical band play before. There was no boundary between them and the crowd, with band members making forays out and the crowd building human pyramids of worship and devotion to them. At one point, the tiny rhythm guitarist was hoisted above the crowd, still playing, and ended up with his feet jammed up against the ceiling.
The songs crashed into one another, punctuated by the bass player telling us “We are shit! But, we are a band!” and other pearls of wisdom. The drummer looked as though he was going to keel over from exhaustion at any moment. And in among the frenetic playing of his bandmates, swirled the gold-clad singer.
At some point, he lost his trousers, revealing a tiny pair of silver lamé shorts.
I had no idea what was going on, but I loved it. The energy, the good humour and most of all the fast, joyous, thrashing music.
The bass player introduced a cover version: “We know Manchester. We know Oasis.” And then they played the fastest version of Don’t Look Back In Anger that I’ve ever heard.
One thing’s for sure – when we next go to Japan, we’ll be checking the listings to see if A Page of Punk is playing anywhere.
Have a listen. They’re on Soundcloud and there are videos on YouTube. You will never be the same again.