The Slits
They may be less well known than The Pistols (Sex), The Spex (X-Ray) or…er…The John (Jilted) but The Slits richly deserve their place in punk history, not least of which for being one of the few mainly female punk bands (a good 20 years before an altogether more commercial brand of girl power).
The Courtesy Group
Before getting my Slit fix though (that sounds a little wrong doesn’t it?), another chance to see Al Hutchins, Birmingham’s number one mad shouty genius and his band of merry men, The Courtesy Group. Imagine a mad fire and brimstone preacher trying to convert the unconvertable with a soundtrack provided by Frank Zappa and Acid Mothers Temple and you might get some idea of what they sound like. Then again you may have no idea (in which case it’s probably easier to go and have a listen first, then come back to this review and we’ll all pretend that you got what I was talking about all along).
The Courtesy Group
Although I’d seen the band a fair few times before, this was a different line up – the main change being the addition of a certain Fyfe Dangerfield, lead singer of The Guillemots. This ain’t as surprising as you might think (Fyfe is Al’s brother and was, I believe, in The Courtesy Group back in the day). Tonight, face hidden behind that floppy fringe of his, he played a mean guitar but otherwise remained silent, perhaps aware that his somewhat angelic voice might not chime too well with Al’s brand of Brummie street preacher. Line up differences aside it was, as ever, an engaging performance featuring another of Al’s stream of conscious poems, plenty of the classics (Brick House Blues and the New Beef were particularly fine tonight) and his trademark audience face offs. Watch out for their new album, ‘Tradesman’s Entrance’ (cue Kenneth Williams style sniggering) coming soon.
The Slits
The next band, Pens, were a no show for some reason. Maybe they ran out of ink? So we pretty much dived straight into The Slits (hmmm that sounds even worse than ‘slits fix’), or a couple of them at least. Of the original era band only Ari Up and Tessa Pollitt remain. They’re joined by, amongst others, the rather brilliant Hollie Cook (daughter of Paul ‘Sex Pistols’ Cook) on keyboards and vocals. Like The Clash (who The Slits supported back in 1864) the band’s always been into the dubby reggae side of things and tonight’s set was a little like taking a deep drag on a phat one (not that I’ve ever done such a thing…much). Ari’s dreads look like the result of an over eager child using one of those Play-Doh hairdresser sets and her accent (a cross between German and Rasta) is a little unusual to say the least, but her bubbly enthusiasm (33 years into your career this has to be a pretty rare thing) was heartwarming. It warmed something else too as there was plenty of bumping and grinding going on (mainly between Hollie and Ari) and, for some strange reason, Ari poured half a litre of mineral water down her crotch to cool her ‘pum pum’ (that Little Drummer Boy song will never sound the same again). Mind you, given that one of the songs from the set, ‘Lazy Slam’, was an open invitation to shaft your partner whilst they’re asleep, perhaps her ‘pum pum’ needed a little cooling down.
The Slits
Speaking of songs (oh yes, this is supposed to be about music isn’t?) we got all of the hits, including a bowel shakingly dubby reworking of ‘Heard It Through the Grapevine’ (retitled ‘Heard It Through The Bassline’) and an audience participation version of Typical Girls, plus a selection of new tracks from forthcoming album Trapped Animal. Rather amusingly, before doing one of these new songs, Ari had been playing Tessa’s bass and got it stuck in her Play-Dreads as she tried to lift it over her head, ‘Me ‘air dun wanna le go o mi bass!’ she squealed. It took 16 firemen to cut her free…
The Slits
After leaving the stage to rapturous applause from the audience (a mix of old punks, trendy young things, curious random folk and me) one of the audience members got on the stage, picked up the microphone and started the traditional call back the band for an encore bit. Ari and Tessa duly returned but, in return for the audience member’s impromptu MC’ing Ari left the vocals up to her and sat down behind the drum kit instead. So the encore was Ari, Tessa and (by her own admission) a slightly drunk girl. Actually she was very good, delivering a ‘hear mi now’ kind of toasting against more of the dubby stuff. A surprisingly endearing ending to a surprisingly endearing night.
The Slits
Words by Daron Billings
Photos by Wayne Fox

2 Responses to “The Slits + The Courtesy Group @ The Rainbow, Birmingham UK – 14 October 2009”

  1. uberVU - social comments Says:

    Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by wayne_john_fox: See http://www.gigjunkies.com/?p=1206 for a review and my photos of The Slits + The Courtesy Group @ The Rainbow, Birmingham UK – 14/10/2009…

  2. london coach company Says:

    I wish I had found this place sooner

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