It’s a near capacity crowd at Bristol’s iconic floating venue Thekla for a night of classic punk rock as RUTS D.C. are supported by THE PROFESSIONALS, read on to see how the evening unfolded….
The Professionals are tonights only support, originally formed in 1979 by formed Sex Pistols Paul Cook and Steve Jones they originally lasted just 3 years, disbanding in 1982. The Professionals reformed in 2015 without Steve Jones although he did contribute some guitar parts to their recent album What In The World
All eyes are on drummer Paul Cook as the band take to the stage, opening with the anthemic ‘Join The Professionals’. From here on out it’s a smart mix of classics and new material, the crowd are immediately on board and in many ways the Professionals are the perfect support act for Ruts D.C.; With a shared history and audience they were always going to impress and never threaten to stray too far away from typical punk rock song writing formula. The crowd responded particularly to Pistols tracks ‘Silly Thing’ and ‘Lonely Boy’ from The Great Rock n Roll Swindle.
It’s a typically professional performance to set up the main event of the evening…
The Ruts or Ruts D.C. as they are now known are simultaneously one of the most influential and overlooked bands of the late 70’s British punk scene.
“The Crack. I cannot explain to you the impact that this LP had. It is simply one of the best albums of its time. A true treasure that does not age but only impresses the more you play it.” - Henry Rollins
The Ruts were a huge part of the early British punk scene featuring in two performances on Top of the Pops and a John Peel session before the tragic death of lead singer Malcolm Owen in 1980 at just 26 years old. In 1982 The Ruts became Ruts D.C. standing for Italian term ‘Da Capo’ meaning ‘Back to the beginning’.
A spoken word introduction sets the tone and builds anticipation before a typically sharply dressed Ruts step onto the Thekla stage, the crowd erupts in appreciation and we have a punk rock show on our hands.
‘Babylon’s Burning’ is the perfect opener live just as it is on ‘The Crack’ and as expected Ruts D.C. power through the first side of the 1979 LP with ‘Dope For Guns’ and ‘You’re Just A…’ being personal highlights.
One of the many traits that makes The Ruts so unique and influential is their embrace of dub reggae never displayed better than in ‘Jah War’ which gets the crowd dancing and the tempo change into ‘Criminal Mind’ opens up the mosh pit for the first time.
The band take a moment to thank the audience for their continued support and to restate their unwavering commitment to unity through music. A subject which Ruts D.C. don’t just talk about they incapsulate, their blending of styles of punk, dub, rock n roll and even glimpses of funk all with pop sensibilities is a perfect metaphor for the world they’d like to be playing in, although it is an almost entirely caucasian middle aged audience in the room tonight.
With ‘The Crack’ concluded, Ruts D.C. play a handful of other tracks including the 1980 classic ‘West One (Shine On Me)’ as well as ‘Kill The Pain’ and ‘This Music Must Destroy’ from the critically acclaimed 2016 album of the same name.
The band leave the stage momentarily but don’t get far, the crowd are all fired up and chanting for more. Always crowd pleasers Ruts D.C. emerge back on the Thekla stage to play ‘Fuck Your Head’ and ‘Love in Vein’ which transitions effortlessly into ‘Police and Thieves’ much to the delight of the audience and this reviewer before bringing the show to a close with the undeniable ‘Staring At The Rude Boys’ and ‘Society’.
As the punks charge toward the merch stand and exits, it brings an end to a joyful night of celebration. Celebrating a legendary album as well as the men who made it and the audience who continue to support the music they love and beyond that looking forward to what these punk veterans will do next, on tonight's showing neither band is slowing down anytime soon.
Review by Hena Larkin