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02 Academy Islington 7th January 2010
TV Smith / The Illuminations / Viv Albertine / Carbon Silicon / Patti Palladin / Beastellabeast / Midge Ure / Rich Kids
God Save The Sex Pistols Review by Phil Singleton

“The guys around me, they astound me....” *


Historic & poignant. This wasn't just a reunion, it was a rare regrouping done for one reason only, for one person only - Steve New.

Midge Ure commented backstage just before the evening began, if any of the group had been in a similar situation to Steve, they would have all pulled together – a clear indication that 30 years after the Rich Kids' last performance, there remained a strong bond between the group. It was a celebration where everyone mucked in – this positivity spread from the musicians to the sell out crowd. A special, one off evening, devoid of any traces of cynicism.

The line-up was sensational. The scene setting, opening three song set from TV Smith, was the perfect start. Next up, The Illuminations. Featuring top record producer Clive Langer, Ian Broudie of Lightning Seeds fame, Nick Millard from Deaf School on drums, and the first of three appearances tonight by Glen Matlock. They delivered Clive's I Want The Whole World, and Ian's Sense, outstanding examples of their respective songwriting, as well as an unforgettable version of the classic Wreckless Eric song Whole Wide World which they'd perfected at the soundcheck.

What can you say about the stunning Viv Albertine, a lady blessed with an engaging, quirky personality, and songs that betray her outlook on life? Armed with just her guitar, she treated us to three of her witty and barbed observations, I Don't Believe In Love, I Should Have Been A Boy, and Confessions of a MILF.

TV Smith
TV Smith
The Illuminations
The Illuminations
Viv Albertine
Viv Albertine

Tonight was evolving into a perfect scenario, befitting the very nature of the event. Having already witnessed TV Smith, Glen and Viv, next up were Mick Jones and Tony James, two more original punk rockers responsible for many of the great songs from the very period the Rich Kids were active.

Carbon/Silicon are a smart outfit both on record and live, and proved it again here in Islington. As a further illustration of the nature of the evening, Rusty Egan deputised at the last minute on the drums (bad weather had left them drummerless!).

Ironic that Rusty almost drummed for The Clash, but missed out because he was too busy! Now it was his turn to pound the kit behind Mick; another special moment. They belted out The News, War On Culture, Why Do Men Fight (incorporating Police On My Back) and What The Fuck. Of course, Mick himself had performed on stage with the Rich Kids during their formative period.

Mick Jones & Tony James (Carbon/Silicon)
Mick Jones & Tony James (Carbon/Silicon)
Rusy Egan with Carbon/Silicon
Rusy Egan with Carbon/Silicon
Glen Matlock with Patti Palladin
Glen Matlock with Patti Palladin

Patti Palladin took to the stage backed by Glen Matlock on acoustic guitar, Tracie Hunter and Maggie Ronson on backing vocals, plus, from Beastellabeast, Steve's brother Dave New, Tommy Luther, and - making his first appearance of the night – the main man himself, Steve New. The set featured covers of The Singer Not The Song and Baby It's You, which both took full advantage of the vocal backing, along with a rare performance of a Matlock/Palladin composition, Face In A Crowd, another gem. Significantly, Maggie Ronson is the sister of Rich Kids producer Mick Ronson. The feeling of people connected with the Rich Kids all pulling together was growing throughout the evening. By now, three of the Rich Kids themselves, Glen, Rusty and Steve had all appeared on stage.

The perfect evening was coalescing.

Beastellabeast. This was the first time I'd witnessed Steve New's band. Fronted by live wire Beatrice Brown, they're an intense, extreme, full-on experience. Beatrice threw herself into her performance demanding love back from the crowd, reminding us of the evening's purpose. She is the perfect foil for Steve, a man who uses his guitar as an outlet for his own angst. It was an electrifying performance. Modern and edgy. Their set served as a reminder as to why Steve is regarded so highly as a guitarist and composer. When called upon, he stretches those strings with lightning speed. Perhaps the most moving moment was Stop The Clocks which Steve dedicated to his doctor for keeping him alive.

It was then time for Midge Ure; the fourth and final Rich Kid to take the spotlight. Unaccompanied, armed only with his acoustic, it was hard to envisage synthesiser based music making the transition. Would his material work in this environment? Any concerns quickly evaporated. From the moment his set started with Fade To Gray, it was clear Midge was here to embrace this evening and what it meant. This shone through in his performance which was in turn reflected by the audience singing along in appreciation. I'd no idea he could sing this well! Dancing With Tears In My Eyes, If I Was, and the closing Vienna were particularly impressive. Credit to him.

Steve New (Beastellabeast)
Steve New (Beastellabeast)
Beatrice Brown (Beastellabeast)
Beatrice Brown & Steve (Beastellabeast)
Midge Ure
Midge Ure

Next, the main event: The Rich Kids.

Glen Matlock, Midge Ure, Rusty Egan, and Steve New. Augmented tonight by Terry Edwards on keyboards, and Tracie Hunter and Maggie Ronson on backing vocals.

It was no surprise this show was a sell out; it would have been without the superb supporting line-up, but the occasion, the camaraderie, the reason for being here, transcended all normal emotions experienced at a concert.

DJ Gary Crowley took to the stage. Gary recalled that his association with the Rich Kids dated back to an interview he did with the group for a punk fanzine. Like everyone else up on stage tonight, he had invested part of his past in what we were about to see.

On they came to deafening applause. For one night only, the Rich Kids.

Glen Matlock
Midge Ure
Steve New

First out of the traps was Strange One, the perfect platform to both reacquaint and lay out before us the unique sound of the band. The buoyant crowd were delighted with this. It was weighted perfectly, followed immediately by the powerful Hung On You – at this point proceedings really took off.

Perhaps the most pleasing aspect was observing how much all four of them were enjoying every moment. Midge looked as if he'd never been in any other band! His guitar playing was superb, matched by his incredible voice. Glen himself remarked on it during the set.

Rusty is also one hell of a drummer. The word “power” has often been tagged onto the Rich Kids, and it's easy to see why. He almost murdered the hi-hat during Marching Men.

The chance to play these songs live after three decades seemed to touch all of them. Glen was clearly delighted with how it was unfolding. Underpinning the set, his rock solid bass lines were delivered with an invigorating swagger, oozing confidence and purpose. That's the point. This evening had a clear purpose and it manifested itself at all levels. If you wanted a lesson in how to perform rock ‘n' roll bass on stage, Glen gave it. He also gave a fine vocal performance as he took the lead on Burning Sounds, just like on the original album.

Put You In The Picture was electrifying. It was the moment for Steve New to remind everyone how amazing a guitarist he actually is. Seeing Steve up on stage, putting on a mesmerising performance in such circumstances, was one of the most moving moments I've ever witnessed at a gig; perhaps the most. Despite being unwell, he was brilliant. Truly brilliant. I couldn't help but wonder how he must have felt, not just during the Rich Kids performance, but by the occasion itself. I tried hard not to think about it – it was too difficult.

Glen with Gary KempSteve's guitar energised the self titled anthem Rich Kids which, coupled with Midge's guitar, sounded more powerful and dynamic than the original single. Scintillating.

Here Come The Nice, the Small Faces song they covered back in 1978, was again given the Rich Kids treatment: Midge jokingly accused them of ripping off the Rich Kids!

A highlight for me was the B-side Only Arsenic, dedicated to journalists. This has always been a favourite of mine, and it lived up to expectations, with the girls on backing vocals adding some complimentary gusto.

Of course, this being a special night, further additions were made to the cast. Gary Kemp appeared for Ghosts Of Princes In Towers. Clearly another fan of the band, armed with his guitar, he threw himself into the cause. He was .... fantastic. I'd never seen him knock out rock ‘n' roll licks with such passion – I'd no idea he had it in him. Full marks to Gary, he gave his all, doubling up at the microphones for the song's communal shouts, and putting himself about the stage. Everyone raised the bar tonight. Everyone. (Pictured left: Glen & Gary)

There had to be an encore. There just had to be. This time they were joined by a host of guests from the evening, Mick Jones, Tony James, Patti Palladin, Clive Langer, Beatrice Brown....

All Or Nothing, a war cry for any generation, galvanised everyone into an explosion of energy and emotion. We knew the very last concert by the Rich Kids was approaching its end. Finally, I guess it had to be, a reprise of the song that first announced their arrival all those years ago - Rich Kids.

Then it was over. Like all good things, it passed in a flash. But what a blinding flash it proved to be. I wonder if this was the best ever Rich Kids show? Devoid of all the baggage that comes with youth, all four were relaxed, on the same side, with their skills sharpened by maturity.

We all wish Steve the very best of luck with his battle against illness. The love that was on show for him tonight was humbling. Everyone pulled together, from the artists, the management, through to the fans that made it a sell out success.

“They've got so much feeling...” *

Without a hint of reservation, Midge referred to himself as a Rich Kid during the show, and that was the point. It was the Rich Kids on stage, not a mere shadow of past glories, but the real deal. For one night only.

“The thing about Rich Kids is, they're all there” * And they were, on 7th January 2010, for Steve. All of them. If you were too, you were a lucky one. A Rich Kid.

*Lyrics from Rich Kids

The thing about Rich Kids is, they're all there
Rusty, Glen, Midge, Steve, Beatrice, Mick, and Terry
Written by Phil Singleton
Photographs by Mark Clacy (& Phil)
God Save The Sex Pistols ©Phil Singleton / 2010

God Save the Sex Pistols

God Save The Sex Pistols ©Phil Singleton /