Dead Men Walking – all apart from the poorly one!
The sign on the door says it all, “due to illness, Glen Matlock will not be taking part in tonight’s show. We are sorry and hope this will not affect your enjoyment of the show”. Nooooo! I wanted to see a real life Sex Pistol! Call me shallow, but although I appreciate that this is the amalgamation of some of the best underground successes of the late 70’s and 80’s, I STILL wanted to see a real life Sex Pistol!
Disappointment aside, Dead Men Walking is a strange concept, but actually makes perfect sense. Made up of Mike Peters from the Alarm, Billy Duffy from the Cult, Kirk Brandon from Spear of Destiny, Slim Jim Phantom from the Stray Cats and Glen Matlock from the Sex Pistols, its a bit of a school reunion for the musicians involved. Speaking before the show, Slim Jim and Mike told me it was down to the fact that they’d all known each other for years, done the same circuits, cut their musical teeth in the same era so, well, why not?
Dead Men Walking
Spear of Destiny
The Stray Cats
The Sex Pistols
Whitehaven Civic Hall
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The Dead Men Walking show is a medley of a generation, and judging by the the shirts worn by the west Cumbrian punters, its one that certainly hasn’t been forgotten. In fact, walk into any branch of Top Shop these days and you can see exactly what this lot were rebelling against – leg warmers, batwings and most other representations of Thatcher’s Britain. T shirts bearing the emblems of UK Subs, Dead Kennedys, Sham 69, all stretched over mid 30’s beer bellies but here tonight to catch a whiff of bygone youth.
Whitehaven Civic Hall was packed and Dead Men Walking did more than justice to each of their respective back catalogues. Belting out hits such as the Cult’s ‘She Sells Sanctuary’ and the Pistols ‘Pretty Vacant’, the band were tight as a Tory minister in 1983. They dealt with bassist Glen Matlock’s absence like the seasoned professionals they are and gave weight to each track played, regardless of which member of the band it once belonged to. Yes, its a bit odd having Mike Peters from the Alarm sing where Ian Astbury or Johnny Rotten once did, but bloody hell, he’s got a great voice so who cares?
It is a spectacle to see them all on stage, particularly when you take into account their careers. Between them, they’ve clocked up 40 top 40 singles, 30 million album sales and more than 20 top 20 albums! Respect! But even more interesting is the lack of egos onstage. Watching the soundcheck, I couldn’t help but notice how they all worked so well together, no ‘I was on Top of the Pops more than you so I get this guitar solo’ tantrums, no huge bodyguards standing around, no bowls of M and M’s with the brown ones taken out. This lot really are together because they want to air their finest moments – and while they might not be the height of cool anymore, these songs really do stand the test of time. I still get chills when I hear the opening chord to the Cult’s ‘Rain’! With their tongues planted in their cheeks, Mike Peters says the ‘Dead Men Walkng’ name is a reference to the fact that the music industry probably thinks they have all kicked the rock n roll bucket . Radio 1 might not have them on the A list anymore. But let’s face it, they don’t exactly need that, do they?