I first saw the Anti-Nowhere League (ANL) by accident (or divine intervention) at Ivory Blacks in Glasgow back in March 2011. I had to go to Glasgow so had a look to see what was going on, saw ANL were playing, watched ‘So What’ on YouTube, decided it would be a laugh if nothing else. The laugh was on me as they turned out to be one of the best live bands I’ve ever seen. This was to be my seventh ANL gig. I’ve seen them at venues ranging in size from The Hop in Wakefield to The Apollo in Manchester (with Motorhead).
100 Club is named because of it’s position at 100 Oxford Street, London. It was therefore easy to find as I just followed the even numbers (backwards from Regent Street) and a small neon red and white 100 Club sign marked the entrance, which was just a door at street level, surrounded by the bright lights and streets of London, but it’s deceptive as once you head downstairs you enter a wide room with red painted walls which give it a womb like quality. Lots of black and white pics adorn the red walls. I spotted Lemmy, John Lydon, Siouxsie Sioux, Mick Jagger, Liam Gallagher and The Sex Pistols, to name but a few. There were bars at both sides of the room but only one was open and it run out of draught cider. The lager was free flowing though, and the club had plenty of orange plastic seats so those who wanted to sit down were well catered for, which is no bad thing. You may scoff and say ‘Who wants to sit down at a Punk Rock gig?’ but not everyone can stand for long periods, so ample seating is no bad thing!
Opening up for ANL were The Black Bullets from Hampshire. A five piece fronted by Liar Billy T (get it?) who, with his abundant tattoos and military style hat, made an arresting frontman. After the opening song and an ‘Alright, How are you doing? What an honour it is to play with these guys tonight’ the band launched into Sin Seeker. With the rock star swagger, screaming riffs and fast drumming these guys reminded me of bands like Towers of London, The Howling and The Dogs D A’mour and they actually included a rocking cover of the latter’s What You Do in their set. It’s also one of the tracks on their latest EP Bullet Through Your Heart. Billy jumped of stage into the audience at one point was sinking from the crowd. Before they finished he said that the first song he covered when he was 16 was Woman, so it was great to play with these guys before he retired, although I suspect that may be a long way off. Hope so because I really enjoyed The Black Bullets and would love to see them again. I had a chat to the newest Bullet Lance Skybaby afterwards, he’s only been with the band a couple of months and when asked how it was to play with ANL he said ‘Wicked, it’s an Honour to play with these Punk legends’
Bullet Through Heart
What Ya Do (Dogs D’Amour Cover)
Eat Your Heart Out (new song – title may change)
Liar Billy T – Vox, Venom, Harmonica
Lance Skybaby – Ladykiller,… Six String Gunsliger (lead)
Skinn Klick – Hellbringer, Gunslinger (rhythm)
Jim Bones – Disaster Blaster, Bass Master
Carl. D – Tubs, Trouble, Turbulence
We didn’t have to wait too long before The Anti-Nowhere League and the Punk Rock Legend, who is their enigmatic front-man, Animal took to the stage opening with We Are the League which includes the lyrics ‘You criticise us. You say we’re shit, but we’re up here and we’re doing it’ ‘We are the League. Anti-Nowhere League’ and so started a shit hot gig. With Animal in his customary shades and camouflage pants. The audience were a bit rowdy and some may have mistaken the rowdiness for violence with jumping and pushing galore. However, whilst to an outsider looking in, it would appear violent there was no threat of trouble. If anyone fell they were immediately helped back into the melee! One guy even managed to hold his pint aloft in the midst of the scrum barely spilling a drop! I was at the front but to the very far left, facing the stage, and apart from one accidental elbow to the back, people were respectful of my note taking! When we came to I Hate People the audience erupted, singing along and pushing and shoving each other. I seem to have acquired my own bouncer for that song who took the brunt of the pushing and shoving. (Thank you to my good Samaritan or I might have lost my pen!)
My God’s Bigger Than Your God was another crowd pleaser. Snowman a song about drug taking had Animal miming shooting up. The band, Shady, Nato and Tommy just looked to be having a great time giving it their all. There’s no frills or fuss about ANL, they don’t need fancy lighting or any gimmicks to enhance their show it’s just pure unadulterated Punk Rock. Most of the crowd were obviously big fans as I didn’t see many t-shirts other than ANL t-shirts although I did notice a Motorhead t-shirt. Most would describe Motorhead as Rock and ANL as Punk but there are definite similarities between the two bands and they both cross the divide between the two with all the instruments played loud and at supersonic speed!
As we came to a kind of halfway point Animal announced ‘Ok Brothers I need your help as I’m not getting any younger’ and got everyone singing along to Chocolate Soldiers then Animal, Shady and Nato left us with Tommy for ‘As good as it Gets’ an acoustic type number, which I don’t think I’ve seen at an ANL gig before. Just Tommy singing and strumming until Animal came back on stage towards the end and joined in unobtrusively with the vocals. It gave everyone a chance to have a rest from the pushing and shoving before the rest of the band came back on for the next half! Animal stripped off his ANL (sleeveless) waistcoat to reveal an ANL sleeveless shirt. This is War their last single was well received with a mini riot appearing to go on. When Animal announced Dead Heroes by saying ‘Over the last few years we’ve lost a few punk rockers’ a reverence came over the audience and the crowd had a break from the mayhem and listened which showed the respect the song and the late, great Punk Legends it was written about deserved.
We Will Survive saw a red haired woman in an ‘I Hate People’ t-shirt bypass the bouncers run across the stage and squeeze Animals arse! Although the bouncers and the band let fans join in the show making for more of a party atmosphere and people didn’t take the mick, took their 15 seconds of fame, sang a word or two, then departed the stage without any need for manhandling. The same Woman was acting the part to Woman with a few gestures and sticking her tongue out. Woman , starts off all lovey dovey going through, courtship, marriage and ending with ‘Woman. I Hate You’ the song which most divorced men relate to and all women’s libbers detest but like most ANL songs it’s not meant to be taken seriously. Streets of London a cover of the Ralph McTell classic is a must play at any ANL gig and had the crowd being particularly rowdy. When in London! Nato then came to the front of stage with a snare drum, like a marching soldier of The League, to lead us into Never Drink Alone. Then the bouncers cum roadies joined in to help sing Pig Iron a fast Motorhead type number and with a ‘God Bless’ from Animal the main set ended.
Shouts for more ensued and after getting Fucked Up and Wasted and Animal shouting ‘Live music. Keep it Real. Don’t let them stop live music! Don’t let the bastards win otherwise you’ll have Simon Cowell standing here!’ Then with a cry of ‘So Fucking What’ we came to probably the most offensive, but no doubt most (in)famous ANL song, So What written by Animal, covered by Metallica it was the B Side of their first single Streets of London a few complimentary (to the lyrics) wanking gestures were thrown in by Animal and I think absolutely everyone was singing the ‘So Whats’ The gig could have ended there on a high, but just in case we didn’t know who they were we got another rendition of We Are The League and a merry hell broke loose. The final words from Animal being ‘Thank you. We salute you’ until next time and, for me, there will definitely be a next time.
‘You criticise us. You say we’re shit, but we’re up here and we’re doing it’ ‘We are The League, Anti-Nowhere League’ -criticised? I’m sure they still have their critics, but over thirty years later they’re still up there and they’re still doing it, so leave the critics to do their job and leave the live music fans to continue to enjoy live music. If you don’t like The Anti-Nowhere League and you don’t rate this review then I’ll leave you with these three words ‘So Fucking What!’
We Are The League
At The End of the Day
I Hate People
Let’s Break The Law
My God’s Bigger Than Your God
Skull ‘n’ Bones
As Good As It Gets (Tom)
This Is War
We Will Survive
(We Will Not) Remember You
Streets of London (Ralph McTell cover)
Never Drink Alone
Fucked Up and Wasted
We are the League
Animal – Vox,
Shady – Bass,
Nato – Drums,
Tommy – Guitar