Pulse-Alternative Magazine Bedlam Breakout #26 Review


Northampton Roadmender 14th & 15th September 2018

Friday 14th September 2018

It’s easy to see why Bedlam Breakout has risen from its humble beginnings to become the UK’s premier psychobilly festival. With a friendly atmosphere those of you who haven’t attended before should rectify this as soon as possible and Friday evening is a great way to dip your toe in the water with five great bands.

This Friday is celebrating the 15th anniversary of Western Star Records with every act appearing on that roster. Opening proceedings are THE GRUFFS. They turn in a good natured performance featuring the risqué ‘Sniff’ and the excellent ode to serial killers ‘Zombie Lover’. Blending rockabilly and psychobilly in just the right quantities they kick the weekend off in fine style.

Flying in especially for this one gig are Sweden’s THE TEST PILOTS. With their jaunty sound and huge sing-a-long choruses the band are extremely likeable. ‘Ten Pilot Beat’ and ‘Going Down Again’ from their 10” vinyl are particularly well received while ‘A Distant Dream’ rocks like a runaway train and initiated the evenings first crazy dancing. With a guitar maestro they’re redefining what psychobilly can be.

THE EPILEPTIC HILLBILLY’S certainly live up to their name. Armed with some cracking tunes from their new album, like ‘Turn My Back On You’, which points to a bright future. A nice reworking of Depeche Mode’s ‘Personal Jesus’ goes down particularly well while ‘Gonna Find a Way’, with its crowd participation, livens up proceedings.

THE CARAVANS have a sound with plenty of neat time changes which keeps the listener on their toes and adds up to an intriguing performance. ‘Miracle, with its ska vibe, proves the band have a lot of variety in their arsenal as the uptempo tunes rub effortlessly with the more moody tracks.

Festival favourites the LONG TALL TEXANS make a welcome return to Bedlam in a long overdue headline slot and they don’t seem out of place in such a lofty position. Like three Tasmanian Devils they’re a bundle of nervous energy. The evergreen ‘What Part of Fuck Off Don’t You Understand?’ is always a crowd pleaser while ‘Girlfriend’ raises more than a smile. ‘You Don’t Want Me?’ is a definite highlight as the band play a crowd pleasing ‘best of’ career spanning set and only the curfew prevents the band returning for more encores.

Saturday 15th September 2018

With a sound guaranteed to blow away even the most stubborn hangover DEADBEAT DELUXE kick Saturday off in fine style. Opening with ‘Saints and Sinners’ and despite their self effacing humour the band are in fine fettle. ‘Tin Cast’ follows alnog with a surprisingly good cover of ‘Delilah’ (complete with flying underwear!) while ‘Johnny, Joey and Dee Dee’ is a fitting tribute to The Ramones. Stirling stuff.

An exciting young band KNOCKSVILLE are breathing fresh life into the scene. They guys turn in a high octane performance and by ‘Girl Like You’ they’ve won over any doubters. There’s a spirited version of ‘Tainted Love’ plus a groove laden version of Michael Jackson’s ‘Black or White’ which sits nicely next to their own ‘Crazy Ex’ (and be sure to check out the video). My tip for future headliners.

EL CAMINO are a band who don’t take themselves too seriously. Bright rockabilly tunes are married to a wordy, offbeat lyrical outlook and their own ‘Nutter’ sums things up nicely. A nice cover of Elvis Costello’s ‘Oliver’s Army’ is a set highlight along with their own ‘Give an Inch’.

South London’s SIN KINGS play at the heavier end of the spectrum as evidenced by the title track from their excellent new album ‘Chelsea Smile’.’The Surgeon’ really stomps and swings whilst retaining a sinister edge. They close their set with a blistering ‘Ace of Spades’, it takes courage to cover such a classic tune and in this instance it’s rewarded.

THE HILLMANS play a nice mixture of garage trash very much in the vein of The Cramps but they’re no mere copyists. They pay homage to their influences while retaining an original edge without being retro. The Hillmans pull in a big crowd who’re rewarded with an entertaining set.

Making a highly anticipated appearance are the SCREAMIN’ REBEL ANGELS. A versatile trio I’m not surprised when they throw ‘Blitzkeig Bop’ into their set: coming from Brooklyn, that stuff is in the DNA. Sultry singer (and fine bassist) Laura Palmer gets a lot of attention but they also have a powerhouse drummer in Sean O’Connell whilst guitarist Seth Kessel effortlessly pulls blues and rockabilly riffs from his guitar. Original tunes like ‘Sizzle’ are marinated in energy while ‘Snake’ bodes well for the new record. This band should be on your watch list.

BLUE ROCKIN’ from Germany have the honour of opening the evening session and they’re a rock n’ roll fans dream: with some fine bass slapping, some nifty riffy guitar and a metronomic drummer what’s not to like? Solid.

THE MIDNITERS have a sound that wouldn’t be out of place in a Tarantino movie. The band don’t waste a second as the frenetic ‘Dead Man’s Curve’ segues effortlessly into the moody ‘Motorbike Mike’. They pepper their set with some choice covers: ‘Personal Jesus’. ‘Please Don’t Touch’ before closing with a raucous rendition of ‘Swords of a Thousand Men’.

There’s undoubtedly something sinister about Scarecrows and THEE SCARECROWS AKA perfectly capture this. Opener ‘Scarecrow Man’ sets out their stall with some fine harmonica and slide guitar. With two drummers the band have a huge sound and they turn in a infectiously fun performance. A fine cover of Quatro’s ‘Devilgate Drive’ rubs shoulds easily with their own ‘Empty My Sack’.

THE PHARAOHS have attained legendary status and tonight they open with a cover of ‘The Last Time’ and they hit the ground running. ‘Radar Love’ follows along with a fine rendition of Iggy Pop’s ‘The Passenger’. With an impressive back catalogue the band are spoilt for choice when assembling set lists but we’re treated to ‘Heroes and Cowboys’, ‘Vincent Van Gough’ and ‘You’re on Your Own’ which all raise the temperature before ‘Dead to the World’ leaves the crowd hungering for more.

Opening their set with an amphetamine injected version of Bowie’s ‘John, I’m Only Dancing’ THE POLECATS are a blur of energy that they maintain throughout an hours set. They play with a real joy and an obvious energy and put their own stamp on the Buzzcock’s ‘What Do I Get’. Consummate professionals they play a ‘greatest hits’ set with tunes like ‘Black Widow’ while also playing obscure b-sides such as ‘Don’t Cry Baby’ to keep the hardcore devotees happy. Prince’s ‘Let’s Go Crazy’ gets The Polecats treatment and precedes a well deserved encore.

Covered in fake blood (at least I hope it’s fake!) and looking like escapees from a psych ward DEMENTED ARE GO turn in a master class performance. With a back catalogue that’s an embarrassment of riches it must be hard to compile a set list but the band respect their audience enough to play all the fan favourites of which ‘Lucky Charm’ from the ‘Welcome Back to Insanity Hall’ LP is a definite highlight. With some fine upright bass, kicking drums, chainsaw guitar and Sparky singing to the floor like a tortured soul Demented Are Go haven’t come to take prisoners and despite over 12 hours of psychobilly madness the audience go suitably…demented. Roll on Bedlam number 27!