With the clocks going forward an hour for British Summertime, it seemed strange to be heading into Manchester on a bright and sunny, Sunday afternoon rather than a dark miserable one, to see Ed Banger and the Nosebleeds at The Star and Garter. Which, luckily, is still trading in it’s second location having been moved lock, stock and beer barrell in 1849 (see here). Today was the STP Records ‘Invasion of the Saucer Men’ show with Vertigo Violet and Angry Itch on the billing too.
It was still light outside when Birmingham based Vertigo Violet took to the stage, the upstairs room where the bands play is painted black but light was still filtering through windows on stage. The Vertigo Violet I saw today were a three piece consisting of drummer, guitarist and vocalist. Opening with Psychopath frontwoman Charly, in a black dress with cut outs reminded of a young Debbie Harry, expressive with some powerful screams. Their set included Ego, a cover of Joan Jett’s Bad Reputation and a song so new it hadn’t yet got an official title but for this gig it was called Fires of Hell. They finished off with their favourite song Headache, a hard hitting one interspersed with some Black Sabbathesque riffs and Charly kneeling at the end, which had me thinking of Nina Courson from Healthy Junkies. A short set but they are fairly new and, as Charly pointed out, poor so she asked if people might purchase a badge for 50p. Entertaining to watch and although a three piece today there is mention of another guitarist on their Facebook page and a ? against the bass.
Angry Itch also from Birmingham came next. They describe themselves as ‘Three piece grunge-punk animals’ I have seen them once before on my birthday last year in Uttoxeter and was happy to see them again. They started with a very fast, angry song with an abrupt end before Richard on bass told us they were going to play some new stuff, although he added that it was all likely to be new as we didn’t know who they were anyway! John on guitar took lead vocals on the next one Why Should I Listen To You with it’s whoa oa oa chorus which was fairly easy to pick up and sing along to. Their set also included Back Stab, a fast one with a strong bass line, reminding me of 2 Sick Monkeys; Don’t Be a Dick which Richard told us was about the guy who disappears when it’s his round and Bullseye with lyrics including ‘Eric Bristow’ and ‘Let’s see what they could have won’ I didn’t catch Jim Bowen or Dave Spikey in the lyrics but they may have been mentioned and, regardless, I remember the game show well! They said they had been wanting to play this venue for a good few years so I hope they enjoyed it, they went down well with the audience anyway, and had a couple of people up dancing to their pop punk type songs reminiscent of bands such as Green Day and Blink 182 and got the audience were nicely warmed up and itching for the main event!
Ed Banger and the Nosebleeds have been in existence for forty years now. Back in 1976 frontwoman Edweena Banger was in the band Wild Ram and along with fellow band members worked as a roadie for Slaughter and the Dogs at an infamous gig at Manchester’s Lesser Free Trade Hall at which Ed, who at the time was Eddie Garrity and fellow band member Phil Toman sustained minor injuries. When someone commented about the ‘Headbanger here and Phil with a nosebleed’ it struck a chord and the band renamed and reinvented themselves Ed Banger and the Nosebleeds read more about their history here. Many years later Eddie Garrity is also undergoing a transformation to become Edweena Banger and you can read more about the band’s history and Edweena’s personal journey in her interview with Nigel Carr of Louder Than War here.
I was most put out when, approaching the Star and Garter, I spotted Edweena in a fabulous electric blue wig. I hadn’t worn a colourful wig as I was leaving the house, to walk the five minutes or so to the bus stop, in broad daylight! Teamed with the wig Ed made a striking figure in tight red jeans, white t-shirt and a sleeveless shirt, with a sequinned union jack emblazoned on the back. Slaughter and the Dogs’ original member Brian Grantham AKA Mad Muffet on drums, Alan Crosby on lead guitar and Steven Wilson on bass guitar complete today’s line up. Ed announced ‘Good evening everybody!’ and asked ‘You all ready for some Rock n Roll’ before telling the soundman that she couldn’t hear any vocals and liked to hear her sexy voice! Then quipped ‘Give me everything you’ve got. I always ask that but I dont always get it!’ Songs came from albums new and old. Trash It Up the title track of that album had me thinking of The Damned’s Smash It Up although the name lends itself to that comparison. Songs also came from Kicking Off, New York City and the latest release Legal High.
Ed asked if we liked her hair, as it made her look like a thin Wayne Barrett! Fascist Pigs was a popular one which got the audience dancing and Ed spinning and wiggling her hips. It was getting a bit rowdy in front of the stage and Ed asked ‘Be careful at the front. We don’t want any injuries!’ Burn it Down a fast one had Ed and Al playing a few bars in unison and seemingly pulling guitar faces in unison or competition too! Someone must have made a grab for Ed as she said ‘What are you doing tickling my arse? You can’t do that in public’ but I don’t think she minded too much as she added ‘Well some of the places I go in you can!’
Kinnel Tommy a great fun song with an Alvin Stardust/Mud vibe had Ed posing at the front with a guy in the audience trying to stroke her legs. To be fair Edweena has got a pretty impressive pair of pins, just like one of the guys in the audience had an impressive beer belly and builder’s bum which he took great delight in showing off! I have no objection to men with a ripped six pack going topless, but alas this specimen did not and when I saw he was going to try a stage dive I was glad I wasn’t anywhere near where he was going to land! Ed thanked us for coming down before Roll of the Dice a great Rock ‘n’ Roll number with a Chuck Berry vibe and some AC/DC style riffage from Al Crosby, although I saw him many times when he was in AC/DC tribute band DC79, which may well have put AC/DC into my mind subliminally! New York City reminded me of a punked up Suzie Smiled by Tygers of Pan Tang. That would have been the end but Ed asked if we could manage another one and we got the last track from the New York City album Euthanasia. Then we came to the last song of the evening Annihilation from the latest album Legal High which Ed said would be coming out on green vinyl and black vinyl. A high energy one which got fists pumping and a few stage divers and ended on a drum roll from Mad Muffett and lots of applause from the audience.
A great fun show with some catchy tunes which got the audience dancing or tapping their feet, comedy quips, and a varied set including songs new and old. Although all were new to me and it was definitely worth venturing out on a school night for! Edweena and Mad Muffet also have a side venture Slaughter UK with a live launch at Sound Control on Good Friday (14th April). For future Ed Banger and the Nosebleeds gigs follow them on Facebook or check out their website.