GBH, live in Hollywood

(Real) Punk's Not Dead!

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Birmingham punk rock icons and co-inventors of thrash, GBH, charged through Hollywood this weekend, filling the streets with mohawks and studded jackets. Here's five reasons we feel lucky, punks.

The kids are all right.

It’s been said before, but all too often, with some of the punk bands who are more advanced in years, there’s a feeling of redundancy, an old folks reunion that grows one or two fewer every year, just like the Teddy Boys they’d laugh at back in the day. Thankfully, GBH have no such concerns. Sure, the oldies show up too, but if this wasn’t an all ages show then we sure as hell wouldn’t be packed in like sardines, with the walls dripping sweat, stray shoes and stage divers flying through the air. With an audience that ranges between six and sixty, GBH are anything but redundant.

Advertising is for corporations.

The majority of bands, were they to offer a classic record live in it’s entirety, would make a big deal of it and perhaps even base an entire tour around it. GBH make no such fuss, they do it as a matter of course, opening with a newer track, Unique, from 2010’s Perfume And Piss, before thundering through everything from 1981’s brilliant Leather, Bristles, Studs, And Acne, and then on into assorted singles and b-sides, all killer and zero filler. There’s even a breakneck cover of The Damned’s cover of Iggy Pop And The Stooges I Feel All Right (originally 1969).

Out of my mind on a Saturday night…” No shit.

It’s a bit broke, but don’t fix it.

There’s a certain clumsy charm to early GBH tunes, a rawness that makes those records very special and also makes them difficult to replicate. Seriously, there’s a reason Motörhead don’t play Motörhead any more, drummer Mikkey Dee is too precise and can’t mimic Philthy Animal Taylor’s sloppy, caveman style. Having spent over 30 years on the road, honing their musicianship to be tighter than the proverbial camel’s arse in a sandstorm, GBH could easily tidy up the older songs, like many bands do, but instead they retain that bull-in-a-china-shop feel while nailing every beat. Who says punk bands can’t play their instruments?

Metallica. You’re welcome.

It’s no secret that Metallica’s late bassist Cliff Burton all but lived in a GBH shirt. Slayer paid homage, too, covering Sick Boy on 1996’s Undisputed Attitude and even Josh Homme has confessed to slowing down GBH riffs and ‘borrowing’ them for Queens Of The Stone Age. And this while punk was ignored by the rock press to the point where the ‘p’ word was forbidden in some magazines. With such colossal influence on music the lack of coverage is nothing short of disgraceful, but our loss not theirs. It’s not like the gig could be any more sold out. And, at least here, GBH are treated as legends.

London Calling was overrated anyway.

Oh, come on! Lost In The Supermarket, what the hell was that all about? GBH don’t do that sort of thing. Admittedly, they strayed towards thrash metal for a while having inadvertently helped to invent it, but if Rancid are aiming for Sandanista-era Clash these days, then GBH are still on the White Riot tour, and all the better for it. They play like they’ve got to be somewhere, with a driving urgency throughout, and the kids seeing the band for the first time are basically seeing the real deal. Aside from the odd wrinkle here and there, this could be GBH in 1982, only better! Punk, it would seem, is far from dead.


A veteran of rock, punk and metal journalism for almost three decades, across his career Mörat has interviewed countless music legends for the likes of Metal Hammer, Classic Rock, Kerrang! and more. He's also an accomplished photographer and author whose first novel, The Road To Ferocity, was published in 2014. Famously, it was none other than Motörhead icon and dear friend Lemmy who christened Mörat with his moniker.