LIVE REVIEW: Boilermaker + Kickback Generation, Black Bull, Gateshead, Saturday 12 October 2019

Boilermaker singer Max Turnbull at the Black Bull. Pic: Gary Welford.

Street punk is an acquired taste, but the largely DIY scene is alive and well if this excellent gig at Tyneside’s very own ‘punk pub’, the Black Bull, is anything to go by.

Boilermaker are a relatively new band, formed in Darlington in 2016. Their line-up is Max Turnbull (vocals), Phil Coates (guitar), Mike Robson (drums), Steve Addison (bass). Some of those names might be familiar: Mike is the drummer in Bishop Auckland’s Gimp Fist, while Max and Phil used to be in another Darlington band, Last Rough Cause.

They have one album to their name, Shop Floor, released in 2018, and they are working on their second.

Boilermaker playing at the Black Bull in Gateshead. Pic: Gary Welford.

I first saw them at Rebellion Festival in Blackpool in 2018, and have seen them a handful of times since, and they get better every time. They have a real old-school skinhead feel about them, brooding guitars, driving bass and Mike’s usual hard-hitting drumming. They remind me of ‘80s bands like 4 Skins or The Last Resort, with a modern twist.

They were on first tonight, and their set was based around established favourites like Bang To Rights, Weekend Millionaire and Away Days. A few new songs were thrown into the mix, including A Place To Go, County Lines, Siege Mentality and There’s A Police Car, and if they are a taste of the work-in-progress that is their second album, I can’t wait to hear it.

Boilermaker drummer Mike Robson, who is also in Gimp Fist. Pic: Gary Welford.

The small but enthusiastic crowd enjoyed their set, which ended with The Sirens And The Lights, so much they demanded an encore, and the band obliged, playing All Day Session. The only disappointment for me was that they didn’t play 81/82, one of my favourite songs from the debut album.

Up next were Kickback Generation, a three-piece from the Sunderland/East Durham area comprising Jim Thoroughgood on bass and vocals ( he’s also in Uproar), Mick Robson on guitar and Paul Sowerby on drums.

Kickback Generation playing at the Black Bull. Pic: Gary Welford.

They’ve been together about seven years, and released third album Stand By You (reviewed here), at this year’s Rebellion, which is their best collection of songs yet.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen them relaxed, and laugh so much during a set. These are songs that they’re comfortable with, they’re playing them to their own people, and they sounded great.

They began with traditional opener Kickback Generation, and were quickly into their stride, following with a song I didn’t know, Burnout (possibly from their hard-to-find first album?), and then D.C.B. and the excellent Latchkey Kids from the latest album.

Kickback Generation guitarist Mick Robson. Pic: Gary Welford.

The setlist got a bit mixed up at this point, as they waited for a fan to return from the toilet so they could dedicate a song to her. Yes, it was that sort of gig, and isn’t it great that a band and audience can share such banter? Anyway, she eventually got Roots Boots & Brotherhood, a song about the street punk movement, and it was one of the highlights of the night.

Cathedral Sky (about the Durham Miners Gala) and Riptide Refugee (about the growing humanitarian crisis) were also greeted like the gems they are, and their punked-up version of The Likely Lads paved the way for the closing Stand By You.

Kickback Generation singer and bassist Jim Thoroughgood. Pic: Gary Welford.

Again, an encore was demanded by those present, and we got ASBO Culture, from a list of contenders which also included School Of Hard Knocks, Black Dog Days and Can’t Fool All The People. That Kickback Generation can miss out songs of this calibre shows what a good back catalogue of songs they have now. Long may they continue preaching to the converted.

Gary Welford owner