Back in the early 80s, when music and having a meaning hit me full in the face, Crass were one of the bands I felt 'understood' what it was to be a young teenager. A few of the top ten tunes ever (as far as I am concerned) were recorded by them. Lyrically I could not fault them. Over the years, they split and went their own ways, but the music endured for me. So when I was asked if I would be available to take photos of Steve Ignorant at my usual haunt, the Lewes Con Club, I was definitely up for it! I'd not heard anything from Mr Ignorant for many a year so a quick scout around the inevitable YouTube videos confirmed I needed to be there. A slight hiccup happened at the door when it was found that my name wasn't on 'the list' - quick word with the promoter and I was in.
Now for anyone not aware of Crass and how important they were to a section of society in the 80s, it would seem rather odd that an early 60s smartly dressed persona could have a venue heaving, but this is what I found.
Supported by Emily Flea, who played acoustic guitar and ukulele - not at the same time, I hasten to add - reminding me of Poison Girls in their heyday. Even forgetting the words to one song made the audience appreciate her even more I believe - honest fun music from the heart.
There was a link between Emily and Zounds (next up on stage) which had something to do with a bus fare home...I forget where to and from now; such is the joy of getting older! I really should pay more attention.
Zounds were next up; another band formed in the late 70s, and closely associated with Crass. Sporting original member Steve Lake, they strummed, sang and ate crisps (yes really) their way through their set list with guest vocals from Emily Flea for one track, that she sang solo in her own. The guitar slowly attempted to sabotage the set, but did nothing to dampen the mood. Bravo Zounds.
Mr Ignorant was the main raison d'etre and he did not disappoint. Other than that brief foray on YouTube I'd not seen his later material - after his last gig in 2011 with fellow Crass members, there would be no more renditions of Crass songs - I didn't really know what to expect.
What we got was a masterclass in facial expressions and hand gesticulations showing the raw energy that he started in 1977.
The 'F' word
Poetry set to music - words conveying the anger at life's restrictions - less anarchy and more think for yourself, if indeed there is a difference? I felt uplifted and inspired once again by mere words. The accompanying band, Slice of Life, and the audience were joined in a togetherness you rarely feel at gigs; people at one with the rhythm of music and the meaning of the sung word.
But wait, there was more to come. Whispered, so no one could hear, it would be alright to sing a couple of Crass songs surely? We were then treated to three of the classics to which the whole audience sang word for word - who wouldn't!
The inspiration I felt throughout this gig, melted away by the time I got home as I realised my talent with a guitar was passable at best, and writing down the feelings of an angry teenager when in one's 50s is sadly way beyond me. I'll stick to taking photos...
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