Punk Rock 101.

There was a time I watched kids get on stage with limp bowlcuts and anoraks, guitars held together with sellotape and pink tambourines thrashed to within an inch of their lives. They played songs that were two minutes of ´ba ba ba's' before collapsing in a melee of giggles and feedback. We used to call it Punk Rock, and I loved it dearly.

Nowadays, they have kids on the telly with chemically sculpted hair and guitars slung low on thoughts of cars and girls. Their songs go ´duh duh duh' and fade out in a cacophony of eyeliner and dollar signs. They call it Punk Rock and I hate it with a passion.

It's like a timewarp then in the Cavern tonight, as two kids leap on stage and proceed to play four songs that are all clapping games and making it up as we go along; form a band on a whim, play for ten minutes and then split up. No fucking business plans and sounding like every other idiot, THIS is what it was all meant to be like, ending with a chant of ´we're the Beatles and we're playing at the Cavern'. Only they aren't, they're miles better than the fucking Beatles. They called themselves whatever the hell the wanted to and they were Punk Rock.

Dressed in matching underpants and calf length sports socks, doing warm up stretches like Dexys and leaping around the whole venue to backing tracks supplied by a sole laptop, The Horny Truth are aerobics instructors on acid and produce a triumphant five song stampede of adrenalin that ejaculates with a manic carouse around a call of ´put your fingers in the air if you hate the police!' The Horny Truth turn cartwheels into my heart. They are Punk Rock.

Compared to the opening two acts The Gossip seem weirdly trad, dad, with their guitar and drums, (fuck the bass) but the impression lasts only as long as it takes for Fleur and Izzy (who introduce the Gossip with non existent jokes and giggles - so naturally they are about as Punk Rock as you can get) to instigate a break down in the band / audience interface, and join the band on stage to frug to their dynamic, frantic 21st Century Performance Art Blues. Even though she's going hoarse, Beth Ditto's voice still sounds as big as Mount Whitney, and with Brace and Kathi backing her all the way with the kind of wild precision you never get from ´musicians', The Gossip create a gritty, explosively euphoric sound that reaches a hand up my back and wraps my heart around my spine. I dance on sparklers and call it Punk Rock. I love it dearly.

© 2003 Alistair Fitchett

Photography © 2003 David Goodchild