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Album Review

If the Starz concert DVD Back in Action: Live 2003 is the quintessential view of a band frontman ravaged by time, perhaps U.K. Subs singer Charlie Harper, in his obligatory Misfits T-shirt, is a close second on Warhead: 25th Anniversary Marquee Concert. He sings with an enthusiasm that makes up for the years that are impossible to hide. Bassist Alvin Gibbs and guitarist Nick Garrett do a good job of choreographing their jumps, and are somewhat better at fending off Father Time. This generous helping of 23 slices of U.K. Subs music survives Harper's transformation from relevant punk rocker to a hard-rocking cantankerous old man — think Mr. Wilson from the Dennis the Menace TV show on steroids. Listening to the music without your eye on the images, you'll find that the playing is precise and on target, which makes for a nice audio complement to this documentary. Superbly put together by the astute and clever Dave Meehan, the top-notch camera angles and excitement are captured forever. And it's a good thing, because the thought of Charlie Harper doing this on the band's 50th anniversary is a scary proposition. Secret Films director Meehan has a knack for capturing the energy and making all his films larger than life, and this is no exception. There are lots of effects, but they always add to the music and deliver an extra jolt of excitement. "Rockers" takes the energy level down to metallic sludge, the roller coaster composition swinging back up on the chorus. "Crash Course" sounds like a stripped-down Mott the Hoople, Harper doing his best Ian Hunter, drummer Steve Roberts, also fighting the onset of age, wailing away on a mission. Taped on October 24, 2002, in London, there's a decent interview included. The singer's self-deprecating quip "and for our 200th birthday next year, we are the "Endangered Species," before plowing into that number, is meant to be prophetic. The ominous drumbeat/intro of the superb "Ice Age" is played incessantly over the menu to good effect.


Formed: 1976 in London, England

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

One of the most important bands of the second wave of U.K. punk, the U.K. Subs had been on the scene since the early days of British punk. But as the first wave of bands began to crumble, the U.K. Subs just got tougher and faster, and slowly rose to fame as many of their peers were burning out, finally breaking out in 1979. If anything has been the U.K. Subs' trademark, it's longevity; vocalist and founder Charlie Harper has kept the group alive for 40 years, and while more than 75 other people have...
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Warhead 25th Anniversary Marquee Concert, U.K. Subs
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