The Dead 60s
About the Gig
What happens when you put two of the best live bands in Britain, on at their favourite gig venue and throw two seminal and truly legendary British music artists into the mix? Basically, you get another truly superb Subculture night at the 100.
For the write up on this gig, we will start at the end of the live sets and work back. Because you probably don’t get much bigger news than one of the most influential singer songwriters of the last 30 years doing a live set at the 100 Club for the very first time. Yes, Terry Hall – lead singer of The Specials and the Fun Boy Three – joined The Dead 60s on-stage to sing the special two song encore!!
The Dead 60s, one of the best live bands in Britain, had played one of their typically incendiary live sets and with the crowd shouting for more – they got slightly more than they bargained for. A closely guarded secret, Terry Hall had agreed to join the band for the encore, singing ‘Friday Night and Saturday Morning’ live for the first time in 26 years. The capacity crowd were able to listen to a superb re-working of the song by The Dead 60s, led by the singular voice that is Terry Hall. They then went straight into a high octane cover of ‘Police on my back’ by The Clash – a personal favourite of Terry’s and Matt from The Dead 60s. It was a seminal moment for the 100 Club and Subculture and the audience nearly blew the roof off the club.
All this was watched by the legendary Don Letts – who introduced The Clash to dub reggae and was an immeasurable influence on the band. Don hosted the night for Subculture and played an awesome DJ set throughout the evening – alongside Terry Hall.
This was all beautifully and very ably set up by the mighty Draytones. Label mates of the The View - on the highly influential 1965 records – they were the first band on and blew a lot of the audience away. In classic three piece beat combo style, they captivated the audience with the exceptionally well crafted songs and the energy with which they were played. The 100 club is also their favourite gig venue - and you could really tell – they weren’t going to take any prisoners and had the audience crying out for them to come back on-stage.
For the first time, we were joined by a host of lucky competition winners from each of the bands and the Fred Perry Subculture competition. An incredibly high number took the trouble to email back in to say how much they enjoyed the evening and Subculture thank you for creating such a great atmosphere at the gig.
The word unique is often an over used word, but this was a truly unique evening. Matt from The Dead 60s was still grinning from ear to ear a good hour after coming off stage. Don and Terry DJ’d till the midnight close and the bands mixed with the audience in the typical relaxed Subculture style. It was a very special night.
New Album, ‘Time To Take Sides’, & second single, ‘Start A War’, out Jan 2008
When The Dead 60s burst onto the scene in 2005, with a debut album of spooky ska sound that they made their own, they were somewhat of an anomaly. They had nothing to do with the current fad for all things new wave, rejecting angular guitars in favour of super heavy reggae grooves, booming dub echoes and wired up punk energy. They were a band from Liverpool who sounded nothing like anything else Liverpool had produced before, who eschewed the tradition of their geographical contemporaries in favour of The Clash, King Tubby and The Specials. A band whose very name was a deliberate poke in the eye to anyone still slavishly following the trail laid out by the Beatles half a century ago. Signed to Scouser indie label Deltasonic (The Coral, The Zutons), and managed by US heavyweight Q prime (Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Metallica), The Dead 60s were a band more about “rhythm and shouting” than about melody. A band who could hard-wire the paranoid skank of A Certain Ratio, “follow the tick-tick-tick/ At the heart of the nation”, and deliver a pin-sharp commentary on the world around them in terms that lend themselves to being sprayed on the walls of any English city centre.
Needless to say their arrival did not go unnoticed. Their eponymously titled debut album was critically acclaimed and certified gold, while their first single became the third most played song on US alternative radio in 2005 (behind Coldplay and White Stripes). Claimed undoubtedly one of the best live groups in the UK, they drew in offers of tour support from the likes of Morrissey, The Stereophonics, Kasabian and The Libertines here and Garbage and The Bravery across the pond. Film director John Hillcoat (who aside from working on a number of feature films has repeatedly worked with Nick Cave), asked to direct their first video, while the NME dubbed them “The 21st century Specials” marking them out as pioneers in the Ska revival scene of the summer of 2005.
Fast forward two years and The Dead 60s have swerved back to the pulsing guitar pop that is their real roots. Recorded not in Liverpool this time, but in New York based Noise Studio, and produced by producer-in-residence there David Kahne, (New Order, Regina Spektor, Fishbone, The Strokes), ‘Time To Take Sides’ is a move on from the “nihilistic punk with an Arabian sounding Eastern disco edge” of ‘The Dead 60s’. The songs, like those on the first album, were worked out on stage. This time though the stages were American rather than UK, and it would appear from the melody that has crept into the new songs that the crowd there wanted more than just a vibe. Where once was just lyrics and beats there now are chords. What once sounded so tightly cropped now comes from a wider angle.
“After a year of touring the first album we wanted to capture the energy and directness of the live performance. We just wanted to get back and write direct and honest songs about the things we’ve been through”
The result? A big, bold rock sound that can and will fill stadiums with tight and linear songs that sing of the Saturday night, Sunday morning culture of everyday British life with a tough, street pop that tells the truth. This is the sound of the real Britain- the concrete Britain of late nights, cheap drugs, crap fags and stale beer in plastic glasses, it’s the sound of frustration and hangovers but played out in the psychodrama of guitar pop, one of the last places where there is any freedom. The Dead 60s sing of this frustration and resentment but with such passion and inventiveness that they manage to turn the contents of yesterday’s post Blair chip paper into a series of inspiring pop anthems.
From the sweatshod dancehalls to the rebel stereo The Dead 60s are coming… Armed with a fistful of anthems that are a visceral aural spray can of graffiti on a city centre wall, they are having a riot of their own. This is music you can dance to, that has a vision, an international, continental sound.
The Dead 60s @ The Astoria rarefm.co.uk
The Dead 60s are magnificent live. There’s this combination of the anthemic, fast-paced tunes and the eerie, swirling keyboards all mixed with contemplative smoking-room dub that is not only instantly listenable, but also interesting.
All the singles got an airing, with the kids going absolutely mental for 'You’re not the Law' and 'Riot Radio', similarly with 'Last Resort' and 'Ghostfaced Killer' (sadly nothing to do with the rapper) during the encore. The Dead 60s sound and stage show had matured beyond belief in a year. The verdict? Go see the Dead 60s, they might just surprise you.
The Dead 60's - Stand Up - 7/10
Liverpool's music scene will always be remembered for being the place that birthed The Beatles; it's hard to imagine anyone else coming along and taking that stature from them. When you take for instance The Beatles music and you compare it to modern efforts, say for example The Dead 60's, lots of things have changed.
Both bands have very many differences, maybe even too many but one of their really few similarities is that they are both pretty special, in their own ways; both bands overflowing with innovation, character and potential, evident in their music.
The Dead 60's are exceptional in their own right and 'Stand Up' is clearly testament to that. This band could be the next big thing to come out of Liverpool, and could make a prominent mark on the British Indie scene. A good song indicating the sizeable potential this band has at their discretion.