Punk News Reviews

Gig Review: UK Subs Amsterdam concert celebrates 80 years of Charlie Harper

Legendary British punk band UK Subs played Amsterdam's Melkweg two days after frontman Charlie Harper's recent 80th Birthday! Netherlands correspondent Herman de Tollenaere reports.

In 2023, during their last ever long tour, UK Subs played in Utrecht. Since then, they’ve only done short tours or single gigs. The band played a massive gig in London on Charlie Harper‘s 80th Birthday, 25 May, before returning to the Netherlands.

The UK Subs have a long-standing connection to the Netherlands with their first visit  on 11th February 1980, opening for the Ramones, in Paradiso. Fast forward to 27 May 2024, two days after Charlie Harper’s 80th Birthday ,and after so many decades of great contributions to punk, the band certainly deserved a brilliant gig in a jampacked Melkweg hall. They got it for sure!

The Subs attracted both punks who had been in the scene for decades, like Wim IJff, bassist of North Brabant band the Scoundrels, and Marloes Vermeulen, who the 1980s was Smexmec‘s guitarist. Plus young punks, like Emma Paulissen, bass player/vocalist of Moron, and Daddy, now in Dear Omens. It was great being there together with  my band, Chean & Nasty co-founder Terry, Brigitte van Noije from Leiden who as a 15-year-old had been at the 1980 Crass-Poison-Girls-Cheap & Nasty-Annie Anxiety-God’s Hangover etc. gig in
Voorschoten, with Michelle Steenge (thanks for your photos!), Leonor Faber-Jonker author of No Future Nu, and so many others!

Just as in Utrecht in 2023, pop punks Nasty Rumours from Switzerland opened for the Subs. They played their melodic songs fast and enthusiastically, their enthusiam rubbed off on the audience with much dancing and applause. Here’s one of the Nasty Rumours’ songs ‘Ticking Timebomb‘ played live in Stuttgart:

The UK Subs sounded even better than during their 2023 shows in Utrecht, Eindhoven,
Drachten and at the Blackpool Rebellion Festival. The sound mix let Charlie’s voice, so fitting for the Subs’ subcategory of punk songs, through loudly and clearly. Also the instruments sounded sharp.

Charlie was sporting green hair and a Discharge T-shirt, while bassist Alvin Gibbs wore a T-shirt featuring his other band, The Disobedient Servants. Guitarist Stephen Straughan wore a red shirt while on stage; after the gig he changed into a black Chelsea T-shirt.

UK Subs - Amsterdam 2024 - photo by Michelle Steenge

The Subs played ‘Rockers‘ as their first song. Later, the sing-along ‘Warhead, plus ‘Riot‘ as well. Not all the songs were decades-old Subs favourites: they also played their 2022 song, about Covid, ‘Kill Me‘.

When the band stopped playing and left the stage, the audience loudly expressed that they wanted an encore. To strong applause and cheering, the UK Subs returned. The last song in the encore was ‘Party in Paris‘. So, the party in Paris was over, but the audience still wanted the Subs party in Amsterdam to continue.. and they got the second encore they all wanted!

Here are videos of the first and second encores. Including ‘I Couldn’t Be You‘, which Charlie announced was from 1969; “It’s the oldest punk song ever!” he said (Charlie plays
harmonica on it). The second encore started with ‘You Don’t Belong‘, and continued with my favourite ‘New York State Police‘. The the crowd took over, singing ‘Happy Birthday To You‘ for Charlie before the final song ‘Teenage‘.

Everyone went home, still full of brilliant memories of a great punky night. The UK Subs
continued to Münster in Germany, and then Berlin, to play in SO36: a venue with a punk
history almost as long as the Subs!

UK Subs Charlie Harper turns 80

Main Photo Credit: MICHELLE STEENGE

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