- Queen Zee and The Sasstones
“This is not Bruce Springsteen, you did not pay £126 to be here, you paid £4. Get down to the front.” QUEEN ZEE AND THE SASSTONES make you their bitch. They’ve got the audience eating out of the palm of their (or their roadie’s) hand, and they would even if it wasn’t bassist Meat Boy’s birthday, with all the prerequisite cake. Everyone here knows what they’re getting from this warm-up act, and they’re slathering at the chops for it. You want punk guitars in twin assault? You got ‘em. You wanna pogo? Pogo crazy. You wanna shake your head until the back of your neck looks like a shar pei puppy? Shake it, hound dog. You want homemade [s]asstones hotpants? Well, sorry to disappoint: there ain’t any on the merch stand. But there should be.
SORRY take the stage looking like a bunch of evacuees in too-short trousers. Lead singer Asha Lorenz wears a delightful bit of woven kitsch (either that or there’s a bona fide visitation taking place down here tonight, in which case, get Francis on the blower) emblazoned with the Virgin Mary not once but four times, sleeves included. The effect is one of the blessed mother playing a Telecaster. Our Lady of the Miraculous Garage. Her voice floats above the guitar, harmonies below it, giving just enough spin on the loud part of Pixies’ loud-quiet-loud dynamic. They might not have the exposure to warrant singalong choruses yet, but the crowd respond to the ennui wafting from the stage like a cartoon scent because they know it well. With as strong a Liverpool debut as this, Sorry have nothing to apologise for.
“JUST-” Charlie Steen is a threatening stage presence. “ONE-” He is staring you out. “STEP-” He shudders and stares into the pit he’s created like a child who just lit the first of many fires. “CLOSER TO ME” Follow his lead and you get an (open) tinny to the face. This is SHAME. Despite showing flashes of Johnny Rotten, Mark E. Smith, Mick Lynch and Jason Williamson, this band’s frontman isn’t in thrall to anyone but the same lords and masters as the rest of us. Their music clings to the skin like a sweaty T-shirt. If it gets too damp, just pull it off. Steen is topless by poetic third number The Lick – why aren’t you? Full of rage in songs like Concrete and Tasteless (though it’s not clear why), he seems most pissed off that people aren’t angry enough – and yet they don’t know what they’re angry about. There’s no political talk tonight, but with tour posters predicated on Theresa May’s vacant, bleeding eye sockets, Shame are the sound of underground music seven years into Tory government with four more on the horizon.