Last Updated on March 5, 2023
Originally published in Beat Motel issue 6
It’s been a while since I ventured to the Railway for a gig. Previously it was notorious as a biker pub and this was reflected in the bands and punters giving it a particular appeal, or not depending on your musical tastes.
Some well-known bands have played there including Status Quo, Magnum and Girlschool but as you can see from that list it was a rather limited genre in terms of mass appeal. Since Ray from the Saxmundham White Hart took over things have started to change.
There’s still an ample selection of original rock and covers bands but this is now being interspersed with old-school punk plus some up-and-coming local bands. All in all it’s becoming a well-rounded venue with good facilities for live bands.
That said it could seriously do with a facelift but from what I’ve heard recently this is on the cards. If successful it could make the Railway even more popular, recent gigs already generating some big crowds.
I hadn’t planned to go to this gig, not least as I was away for the rest of the weekend in London seeing Me First and the Gimme Gimmies but once I realised I was at a loose end this particular Friday night and Red Flag were playing it seemed a shame to miss out. I didn’t get to see the UK Subs when they played the old Drum & Monkey so this was a good opportunity to check them out too and see if time had been kind to Charlie Harper.
Arriving as Saigon Kiss were kicking off it was good to see so many there already. With the very reasonable admission fee paid and a good vantage point taken up near the bar we set about watching the first band on. Not the most original of punk bands it has to be said but you can’t fault them for energy or enthusiasm.
The lead singer was climbing all over the wooden railings that surround the stage after only the 2nd or 3rd song such was his desire to get the crowd going. I suspect they often open bills like this as theirs is a very pedestrian set of 70’s punk but even so it was a good opening to what promised to be a great night.
A brief chat with Rikki Flag at his Know Your Product stall, during which time I secured the new Bad Religion DVD, and it was onto Wally and the Wankers. I’ve seen them a few times since their very first gig at The Smock a couple of years ago. I always thought they were a throw-away version of a Ramones style band but each time I see them they get better and better.
Admittedly Boon Dog is never going to be the greatest singer but he isn’t half funny and he leads the band well through a ramshackle but incredibly entertaining set. Best of all, for me, was their punk / rap / hip-hop hybrid which they pulled off with considerable aplomb. Boony even battled through the after-effects of the recent snip which had most blokes in the crowd wincing in sympathy !!!
After the recent withdrawal from a big European tour and with all the rumours that were flying around things didn’t look good for perennial Ippo fave’s Red Flag 77. However, a bit of time away to recharge the batteries and a couple of Camp David type summit meetings have seen the band return with renewed enthusiasm.
It appears they’re going to limit gigs to a more manageable level which will hopefully enable them to carry on for a few more years to come. Let’s face it if you want quality 1970’s style punk rock there’s few better than the mighty Flag. Ok, so we’re a bit biased seeing as they’re from our home town but putting that aside I think they are pretty damned good.
Frontman Rikki knows how to work a crowd, chatting in his own inimitable way between songs keeping the atmosphere right on the money. Musically they’ve been going long enough so as to rarely play a duff show.
The recent (?) addition of Mickey on 2nd guitar has brought a much fuller sound and has made them tighter as a result. 2 full albums worth of material means they can vary the set now and prevents them from becoming predictable. For me, providing they always close with Football Crazy they can play whatever the hell they like as this song always makes me get down the front and get sweaty with the crowd…
I would say the kids but lets face it we’re as old as the band. Finally after all the previous noise it was time for headliners the UK Subs to drag their carcasses onstage. The only surviving member is original lead growler, Charlie Harper. He must be older than Lemmy but still seems to love the rock’n’roll lifestyle otherwise he wouldn’t still be doing it. Let’s face it he can’t be in it for the money!
Surrounded by a young band of accomplished musicians the Subs proceeded to knock out a set of punk standards culminating with ‘hit’ Warhead. I would provide a more accurate review but to be fair the Stella had taken grip and my ability to stand, let alone watch a band was being seriously impaired by this stage. From the few numbers I did see I am able to report that the crowd rocked, as did the band, so it would not surprise me to see them in the area again soon as there always seems to be an audience for them especially when so ably supported.