10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Great songs, lively punk, a radical edge,
This review is from: Tom Robinson Band: Live In Concert [DVD] (DVD)
A great showcase for one of the most underrated punk bands, this live DVD features such hits as 2-4-6-8 Motorway and War Baby along with other superb songs from Tom Robinson with the reformed 1990 TRB.
First up, is there anything wrong with this DVD? Well, the blurb appears to have four different mistakes in just one paragraph, which is fairly impressive, there's no time counter on playback, no subtitles, and the transfer's not perfect, with noticeable artefacting over Tom's face in the end credits. But none of that matters, does it? It's the music that counts, and that's terrific.
You'll get a mix of songs from the classic first TRB album, Power in the Darkness, and those they were touring with in 1990, and both types are full of life. They sound great, and the lyrics have the typical Tom mix of post-apocalyptic storytelling and political liberation, alongside a rare love song.
The set opens with Number One: Protection, a punchy tale of a London gangster, though the early highlight is The Winter of '89 - an updated song about the fall of communism, based on one of their earliest tracks and with a cracking sound. The reggae-tinged rock of Duncannon makes a real impact with its great tune and reflection on Piper Alpha, as does the sarcasm of Green Green Green Green Green, aimed squarely at attempts by business and politicians alike to market themselves at environmentally friendly. While Blood Brother isn't as suited to Kustow's guitar as it was to the more orchestral arrangement with which it was released on CD, the top ten hit War Baby is haunting.
The best bit of the show definitely comes with the closing medley of three old TRB stompers; the blazing top ten rocker 2-4-6-8 Motorway is immediately followed by the more minor hit Up Against the Wall, for my money the most blisteringly memorable guitar riff of the punk era. It closes with the anthemic Power in the Darkness, which remains not just a superb piece of music but eerily relevant in its politics. Glad to Be Gay, for example, is a song that Tom updates each time he plays it to keep it relevant, so it's no shock to find the 1990 lyrics slightly dated. It's more of a shock that the assault on authoritarian and uncaring rule of Power in the Darkness could have been written as easily in the Britain of Blair and Blunkett, and that scarcely a word seems out of date.
All in all, a thumping punk performance with a radical message. Well worth a shot.
Background details: the band's line-up is almost the '77 original, with Tom on bass, guitarist Danny Kustow, unsmiling keyboard player Mark Ambler and newcomer Steve Creese on drums. The full tracklist consists of Number One Protection, Winter of '89, You Gotta Survive, Rigging It Up Duncannon, Green Green Green Green Green, Blood Brother, Glad to be Gay, War Baby, 2-4-6-8 Motorway, Up Against the Wall and Power in the Darkness.