Punk News Reviews

Vive Le Rock Awards 2024 – A star-studded evening of sparkling performances!

Punktuation's Ruth Rae juggled camera and notebook to bring you a report of all the action and award winners..

A palpable buzz was in the air at London’s O2 Academy Islington on Friday night for THE celebration of the year of all things live music – the Vive Le Rock Awards!

Compere for the evening was the marvellous Beki Bondage, (Vice Squad‘s lead singer and guitarist) who also an equally impresive job hosting the Awards last year. She was just as brilliant this year, assuredly introducing the bands and celebrity presenters and even getting behind the mic for a song or two – more on that later!

Beki Bondage - VLR Awards 2024
Beki Bondage - VLR Awards 2024

Following a welcome from Vive Le Rock’s editor, (El Presidente) Eugene Butcher, the house band led by the irrepressible Paul-Ronny Angel (The Urban Voodoo Machine) opened the evening with an instrumental cover of ‘Pipeline‘ (The Chantays). Once again fellow Urban Voodoo Machine Slim Clive Pain took his seat at the keyboard, this year joined by Rocky Rhythm (The Revillos / The Rezillos) aka Nicky Forbes on drums.

Paul-Ronny Angel - VLR Awards 2024

First guest musician Lily from top Punk duo The Meffs sang an expressive cover of Joan Jett‘s ‘Bad Reputation‘ which the crowd and the band obviously loved! The lyrics “Living in the past, it’s a new generation, A girl can do what she wants to do and that’s what I’m gonna do” were perfectly suited to Lily’s character and voice.

Lily - The Meffs - VLR Awards 2024
Lily - The Meffs - VLR Awards 2024

Paul-Ronny Angel switched to harmonica, handing over his guitar to next guest Alan Clayton (The Dirty Strangers) who took over on vocals for Dirty Strangers classic ‘Gold Cortina‘, which has recently been re-worked to appear on their latest album release ‘Hunter’s Moon‘. A great piece of Rock ‘n’ Roll!

Alan Clayton - The Dirty Strangers - VLR Awards 2024
Alan Clayton - The Dirty Strangers - VLR Awards 2024

Paying tribute to the late Shane MacGowan of The Pogues, the house band were joined by Gaff (Desperate Measures) on guitar, while Slim picked up his accordion for a beautiful rendition of ‘The Old Main Drag‘, followed by ‘If I Should Fall From Grace‘, both sung by Paul-Ronny Angel and quite a few of the audience.

Welcomed on stage next was Casino Steel from The Boys , for the topical ‘Thank God This Bar Is Closing‘, the latest collaboration between Steel and Angel. They followed up with a banging cover of ‘Brickfield Nights‘, The Boys’ 1978 single written by Matt Dangerfield about growing up in Leeds.

Casino Steel and the House Band - VLR Awards 2024
Casino Steel and the House Band - VLR Awards 2024

Much to the entire crowd’s delight, a very special guest came on to close the first set. UK Subs frontman, the legendary Charlie Harper, turns 80 years old next month, and VLR had to mark the occasion with a special peformance of ‘C.I.D.‘ sung by the great man himself, and a birthday cake with candles!

Happy 80th Charlie Harper! VLR Awards 2024
Happy (almost) 80th Birthday Charlie Harper! VLR Awards 2024

On to the awards! Neal X from Sigue Sigue Sputnik presented the Guitar Legend Award to Chris Spedding, guitarist and music producer, who by early 1970s had become one of the most sought-after session guitarists in England. He went on to release several solo singles and to produce the first Sex Pistols demos, in addition to playing on and producing many albums in a career spanning over 50 years.

Next, the New Blood Award was presented to the awesome Grade 2 by VLR chief Eugene Butcher – although as the band have been going for 10 years, they’re not that new, but seeing as the guys are only in their mid-twenties they were very much amongst the youngest present tonight! Following the release of their highly acclaimed self-titled album last year, the Isle of Wight lads are undoubtably rising stars.

Chris Spedding - Guitar Legend - VLR Awards 2024
Chris Spedding - Guitar Legend - VLR Awards 2024
Grade 2 - VLR Awards 2024 - photo courtesy of Grade 2

Spike from The Quireboys was very happy to present the award for Album of the Year to The Damned for ‘Darkadelic‘! Collected by Monty Oxymoron (keys), Will Taylor (drums) and producer Thomas Mitchener, the crowd were very pleased with this choice and roared their approval!

Segs and Ruffy from The Ruts / Ruts DC presented the Voice of a Generation Award to long time friend (and bandmate in Dead Men Walking) Kirk Brandon of Theatre Of Hate / Spear of Destiny. An emotional Kirk dedicated the award to his sister Jane and brother Milo, who supported him during his early years as a musician.

The Damned - VLR Awards 2024
Kirk Brandon, Segs & Ruffy - VLR Awards 2024

Finally in this section, the enthusiastic and hard-working Toyah Willcox was presented with the Icon Award by Saffron Sprackling from 90’s stars Republica – it was wonderful to see the two ladies so enthusiastic and supportive of each other. Toyah’s long career in both acting and music continues to this day, with her popular ‘Sunday Lunch‘ broadcasts with husband Robert Fripp (King Crimson) garnering her many new fans across the globe since 2020’s lockdown, as well as festival appearances performing her hit songs!

The House Band returned for part 2, commencing with something I’d been hoping for – a tribute to the late and much missed  Geordie Walker of Killing Joke. Beki Bondage took to the mic for a great rendition of ‘Requiem‘, with Gizz Butt (Janus Stark) putting in a superb perfromance on guest guitar duty. It was good to see Cadiz Music boss Richard England at the side of the stage watching this.

Award winner Chris Spedding returned to the stage to play a couple of numbers with the Vive Le Rockers house band – his 1977 song ‘Silver Bullet‘ and hit ‘Motor Bikin‘ from 1975.

Chris Spedding - VLR Awards 2024
Chris Spedding - VLR Awards 2024

Saffron then returned to belt out her energetic 1996 hit ‘Ready To Go‘, which had the entire audience bouncing and singing along. It was great to have such diversity of music at the Awards!

Saffron - VLR Awards 2024
Saffron - VLR Awards 2024

The effervescent Toyah gave a great performance of her 1981 hit ‘I Want to be Free‘, with Gaff on guitar obviously loving the opportunity to be on stage with the Icon award winner!

Eugene donned his denim to give us a ‘Whole Lotta Rosie‘ (AC/DC), aided and abetted by a storming Gizz on guitar – chanelling their inner Bon Scott and Angus Young!

Beki’s voice filled the hall, performing ‘Nutbush City Limits‘ (Tina Turner), then final guest performer Jim Jones (Jim Jones All Stars) closed the set with a full force ‘Kick Out the Jams‘ (MC5) as the house band signed off for the night!

Paul-Ronny Angel & Jim Jones - VLR Awards
Paul-Ronny Angel & Jim Jones join forces - VLR Awards 2024

Award winner Kirk Brandon returned to the stage for the first of the special full band sets, with Theatre of Hate performing a cracking 30 minute set.

Theatre of Hate - VLR Awards 2024

Something many of us had been waiting for – Ruts DC were honoured with an award presented by Barry Cain for Best Live Act! Guitarist Leigh Heggarty dedicated it to his late predecessor, the incredible Paul Fox, whose birthday it would have been the previous day.

Strapping on his bass, Segs stated “Best Live Band, what else are we gonna fucking do?” as Ruts DC launched into an incendiary set of favourites; ‘Psychic Attack‘, ‘Kill the Pain‘ and ‘Jah War‘. Introducing very special guest Zak Starkey (The Who, Oasis) on second guitar (not drums, his usual instrument!), they finished their set with ‘In A Rut‘ in which a bit of fan favourite ‘Human Punk‘ appeared during the middle section, ending with ‘Babylon’s Burning’ which had the whole building singing along – fantastic!

Segs & Ruffy - Ruts DC - VLR Awards 2024
Segs & Ruffy - Ruts DC - VLR Awards 2024
Ruts DC - VLR Awards 2024
Ruts DC - winners of Best Live Act- VLR Awards 2024
Ruts DC play at the VLR Awards 2024
Ruts DC play at the VLR Awards 2024

The bill was topped by 1970s Punks Sham 69 led by Jimmy Pursey, who were presented with the Legends Award. Their set, including ‘Borstal Breakout‘, ‘Angels With Dirty Faces‘, ‘Hersham Boys‘ and ‘Hurry Up Harry‘, plus 1978 top 10 hit ‘If the Kids Are United‘ just about blew the roof off!

What an amazing night – 5 hours of the best in Punk and Rock with some of the best musicians in the scene – then an after-show party where the bands mingled with the fans!
The good news is, the awards will be back for 2025 – look out for information later in the year and don’s miss out on tickets!

See the full list of Award Winners below:

VLR Awards poster 2024

All photos (unless otherwise indicated) by RUTH RAE

Guitar Legend: Chris Spedding

New Blood: Grade 2

Album of the Year: ‘Darkadelic‘ – The Damned

Voice of a Generation: Kirk Brandon 

Icon Award: Toyah Willcox

Best Live Act: Ruts DC

Legends Award: Sham 69

Follow Vive Le Rock on Their Socials:
Need more Punk In Your Life?