U.K. Subs play Rio's, Leeds, England
Charlie Harper – vocals
Jet – guitar
Paul Slack – bass
Jamie Oliver – drums
Support bands: The Kingcrows & The Sewer Suckers
- Below: Photos of this gig by Lisa Ann Jarrett - followed by Lisa's blog, which was written for school, so there's a little bit of general material about Leeds that has nothing to do with the show...
The Many Adventures of Ms. Lisa
What happens when a 27 year old student originally from Chicago travels outside of the USA (and her own personal comfort zone) for the first time.
The Legends of London (and beyond):
the UK SUBS in Leeds, England
By time I set foot off the train from London to Leeds, I felt dead to the world. Not even the crisp, cold, polluted air that circulated around me as I walked out of the train station could rejuvenate me. On top of that, Shawn and I took a wrong turn and, while we made it to our hotel, what was supposed to be a 20 minute walk turned into a 45 minute one because we accidentally missed a more direct route to the hotel.
Our plan in Leeds was simple: For the day and a half that we were going to be in town, we had planned to go to the Royal Armouries Museum, which has countless displays filled with items from the United Kingdom’s vast collection of weapons and armor, and we also had plans to check out a concert that featured the UK SUBS, a legendary punk band from Britain (more on them in a moment). Planned, is the important word in the preceding sentence as it was exactly that, a plan and not reality, for me, at least.
Despite having a good night’s sleep, when morning came around, I just was not up for the museum. It was more of a Shawn thing to begin with. Considering the fact that I was exhausted, both physically and mentally, chilling out for most of the day and attempting to complete some schoolwork sounded like a good idea to me— and that’s exactly what happened. Shawn went off by himself and had a good time at the museum while I ordered some room service and chilled out for the few hours he was gone.
…and then came the night
Shawn got back to the hotel room around 5:30PM, which was a couple of hours before the UK SUBS show. The UK SUBS, by the way, are an incredible punk band from the UK who, despite having multiple line-ups throughout the years, have pretty much been on tour continuously since the late 70s. The one constant member in the band has been Charlie Harper, who I suspect would probably be a little bit lost if he wasn’t living out of a suitcase for most of the year. The constant touring schedule the band has is truly his life; he loves what he does and lives what he loves.
For about a month and a half previous to the Leeds show, I had looked forward to seeing them live. I missed the band when they were in Seattle back in August (about two months before the Leeds show) because of a lack of funds, so since I happened to be in England when the band was touring the country, I was determined to go and finally see them live. We even scheduled part of our trip around the show because we were so excited about seeing them live— finally.
After a bit of prepping on my part (shower, makeup, etc.), we left a little late, but as we found out once we arrived, it really didn’t matter. Despite being 45 minutes late, not one of the three bands that were scheduled to play that night had even started their sets. The timing was perfect because we had enough time to buy a couple of pints of hard cider and awkwardly walk up to the stage and find a decent place to stand.
Looking around at the club, which was named Rio’s, it looked like many other music venues that I had been to before: the walls and ceiling were painted black, people were loosely scattered around the room, and I was among crowds of people who I did not know. My anxiety level was raised, and it did not help that I was still fairly tired both mentally and physically. Basically, I was intimidated by the environment around me, and I figured (at the time) that these feeling were not likely to pass. Understandably, my confidence was shaken and what I really needed was to relax. That’s what alcohol is for, mind you.
The Opening (bands)
The first band to play was a group called the Kingcrows and they were good, which has not usually been the case for opening bands that I have seen in the past. The only other detail I remember about the band was that the lead singer looked like a cross between the Sex Pistols/Public Image Ltd.’s John Lydon (aka- Johnny Rotten) and Billy Idol. He was about my height (5’8”) with peroxide blonde spiked hair, sunglasses (despite the fact that the club was pretty dark), a spiked collar and/or wristband, and he wore a red shirt with black pants. Thankfully, I can honestly say that he was not all about his “image”, but that he had some talent as well.
The Kingcrows were onstage for about 45 minutes and in between their set and the Sewer Suckers (the other opening band) was about a 30 minute break which allowed the next band to set up their equipment while the first band packed up theirs. This period of time also allowed us to buy a couple more pints of cider and not run the chance of missing part of either of the opening band’s sets.
Soon, it was time for the Sewer Suckers to take the stage and just like the band before them, they were pretty good. The specifics, such as the songs performed and what the members of the band looked like, eludes my memory with the exception of the lead singer/guitarist. Picture Mr. Clean wearing a black shirt with the sleeves cut off, leather pants, and hanging a silver-colored guitar from his black guitar strap. This description may not conjure the best picture in the heads of some individuals, but in my own personal opinion, the look worked pretty well for him.
The Legends of London (and beyond): the UK SUBS
After another small break in between sets (and another great opportunity to purchase a couple more pints of cider), the moment that I had waited for finally became reality when the UK SUBS hit the stage for their intense one hour set. With the exception of the lead singer Charlie Harper, the band’s line-up has changed and continues to change somewhat often. On the night of the show, the fans were treated to a fantastic line-up that consisted of Jet (guitar), Jamie Oliver (drums), and the band’s original bass player, Paul Slack.
The show started off on a high note as the fast and furious classic “New York State Police” blared from the amplifiers. I later found out that Shawn had talked to Charlie right before the band went up on stage and made a deal with him that if he played “New York State Police”, Shawn would buy him a beer. Moreover, Shawn also happened to tell him that we were in town from Seattle (while I almost always say, I’m actually from Chicago, that’s besides the point…). It’s not like the band would not have played that song in the first place, considering that it’s one of their most popular songs, but as Charlie told me after the show, he’s never, ever opened a show with a request. He said to me after their set, “It’s just not something you do.” But, for Shawn, Charlie made it possible.
Their set consisted of song after song of adrenalin-fueled lyrics, distinctive bass lines, electrifying guitar, and pounding drums. Popular favorites, such as “C.I.D.”, “Warhead” (which is probably my favorite song), and “Party in Paris” were definitely not left off the set list, among other classics that UK SUBS fans expect to hear when they go to see the band live.
The crowd soaked up the vibes that the band gave off and sang along with every single word that Charlie, Paul, and Jet sang into their microphones. The passion, the heat, and the overall good vibe in the room that night was truly electrifying and it is difficult to describe second hand because the show was an experience that one would honestly not fully be able to comprehend or appreciate if they were not there themselves.
The fun, of course, did not just stop once the band’s encore ended. While most of the crowd filed out the club’s main doors, Shawn and I stuck around. We talked to each other about how good the show was and such, until one of the members of the Kingcrows passed us. I was able to get him to stop and then I proceeded to tell him how much I loved his band’s set. Happy to hear this, his buddy, who was standing next to him, said: “You guys wanna meet the band? C’mon back here with me…” and with that, we headed backstage with him where the members of all three bands sat, rested, and talked among themselves.
With ease (and a little bit more alcohol), we introduced ourselves and then effortlessly fit into the conversation. The discussion backstage was simple and basic: we discussed the show, where Shawn and I were from, and music in general. Maybe about 20 minutes into it, we somehow separated from the group and followed Charlie back out into the main area of the club. We tried to pursue a conversation with him, and we were successful at doing so. This should be no surprise to anyone that knows him and the band though, since he has a reputation for honestly and truly loving his fans and making the time to talk to them before and after shows.
I can honestly say that Charlie is the best looking man in his mid-60s that I have ever seen, and he’s quite intelligent and sharp to boot. During our conversation, he talked about the two venues in the Seattle area that the band played earlier in the year (and he remembered various details about both places— impressive for someone who has traveled around the world every year for the last 30 years) and he even informed us that one of his favorite venues in the world is actually located in Tacoma, Washington. The place is called Hell’s Kitchen and according to Charlie, they make a seriously delicious burger, among other things.
About an hour after our conversation with Charlie began, Shawn and I decided that it was time to make the 20 minute hike back to the hotel so we could get a good night’s sleep and then leave town for London the next morning. If I remember correctly, I tried to politely leave the conversation three times before I was finally successful at doing so. Charlie loved talking to us and we, of course, loved talking to him.
Our time in Leeds was uneventful other than the UK SUBS show that we went to the night before we left. There were bigger fish to fry, or so we thought, and the next morning we were more than happy to hop on the train and head back to London for the final few days of our trip. Despite the fact that we only spent a day and a half there, I have fond memories of Leeds, but saying “good-bye” did not break my heart, nevertheless. London was calling, and I heard her cries loud and clear.
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