NEVER MIND THE PUPPETS,
HERES .........
In Evil Hour
Slade Rooms, Wolverhampton UK
22nd July 2017
£17

I think this is the first time the Dickies have ever played Wolverhampton? It's usually Birmingham if they're in this
part of the world. So tonight was a bit of a coup for us Wulfrunians. It's certainly a more intimate affair than my last
sighting at Goldwyn's on the 'Just Say Yes' UK tour, circa '90. The place is half full when I arrive about 8.30. And
that's an achievement, in itself, considering the enormous promotion the Slade Rooms did for this gig, which
culminated in a poxy A4 sheet stuck to the venues window, oh and before I forget a few lines in tonights local rag.
But who cares? The audience was made up of hardcore
Dickies aficionados.
I didn't see any support band (
In Evil Hour) who may or may not have played? But the £17 door price was well
worth it in the end. Earlier in the week the Leicester date of this tour was pulled and the support act were outraged,
due to the 'sexist comments' made by our hilarious LA ringmaster Leonard  Graves Phillips on the recent
Warped Tour! Which also got 'em booted off the Warped tour which is punishment enough. So thank god
tonight didn't get dealt the same fate. This is grotty Wolverhampton after all, which has seen the
Pistols play
here when they were banned in the UK, not once but thrice. I mean, whoever could pull out of a support slot
for
the Dickies for such a petty reason must be mad? I just wish bands and promoters with this mind set
weren't part of the punk scene, because they ain't punk! I'm sure better bands would've jumped at the chance
to play. But y'know what its like these days, every punk band and his son is a Politically Correct imbecile,
which is a million miles from the original punk attitude. And just for the record, there are numerous females
here tonight who positively lapped up
the Dickies performance, and even indulged seedy Leonard in some
of his hilarious stage banter with the front rows.


But back to more important issues. This tour celebrates the Dickies 40th year
in show biz land. Which is a phenomenal record of endurance, considering the
bands fleeting '79 mainstream peak
, which came and went in the blink of an eye.
So hats off
, coz the band never really broke up and its now 2017 and I'm
clutching my Red Stripe and pondering where to watch without those 2 giant
pillars 6ft from the stage area getting in the way? As
The Buzzcocks 'What Do
I Get' fades out from the PA system the band slink on stage to ever increasing
cheers. First the drummer who looks like he's just stepped out the roaring
twenties, complete with dickie bow and spats, followed by a non descript
guitarist whose pursued by the mean looking bass player who was the only
one I recognised? However not surprisingly the biggest cheers come for the
two San Fernando originators, guitarist Stan Lee grinning inanely who looks
the healthiest of the two, complete with grey trilby and Vans ska footwear.
He's a spit for Danny Devito these days. However lead singer Leonard Graves
Phillips looks decidedly unhealthy! His eyes are bloodshot, his pallor is blotchy
and his whole dishevelled appearance only adds to the glorious spectacle. It
tells us this second to last date on their current British tour is taking its toll. But
have no fear, his unique voice and performance is just as enduring as I
remember.
Like a bespectacled Doctor on call in his modest grey suit jacket,
black attire with only the bright pink tie around his neck giving the game away
he's an LA punk legend!


Material wise I was half expecting the first two albums which boast at least 10 punk rock
classics amongst em, but what we actually get is a rabid 22 song selection of both, plus
all the hit singles. They kick off immediately with
'Where Did His Eye Go' which seemed
a gear slower than the record, but was gaining momentum by the second and set the
scene for tonights riveting proceedings. The backing vocals and arrangements were
all in place and they were performed with precision, before launching into probably my
all time second fave
Dickies song 'Fan Mail'. Which saw the inevitable left finger in the
left ear routine kick in, before reeling off one of many brilliant lines like
"Especially
trivial info, paraphernalia, badges and regalia
". Leonard's descriptive lyrics are one of
his stealth weapons and nearly as devastating as his unique delivery.The unmistakable
ringing chords of 'Toxic Avenger' greets us reassuringly and was one the audience
loved with its mesmerising gang chorus. For the manic
"Waterslide" were treated with
one of the nights numerous puppets and props that Mr Graves absolutely excels in. He
even dons a snorkel and diving glasses which you have to see to believe. But when he
produced a blow up doll and started surfing down an imaginary slide you just had to cry
with laughter. And the more we did, the more he got carried away which was side
splitting for us. Then he started bashing it around the stage and most noticeably in the
back of the head of the concentrating but grimacing bassist who is actually built like
Mr Marlon Brando (we sadly didn't hear
'Stuck Inside A Condo' tonight though grrrr).
However you could just see the bass player starting to lose his rag, and thinking 'only
one more show to go', which in itself was pure theatre, tee hee. The blitzin
'Paranoid' eased the tension on stage, but catapulted the pace into the
stratosphere and went down a treat especially with the Brummy and Stafford
punks who were by now hogging the front rows taking pics of themselves
with
the Dickies as their backdrop (welcome to Face book culture). But
easily the most popular crowd number tonight and went down really
powerfully both visually and aurally was the impressive
'You Drive Me Ape'.
It stunned me how good it comes across live, way better than on record,
specifically when you witness Leonardo beat his chest in perfect sync with
th
e "APE APE" chant and it all made ridiculous sense.
The band are really on fire now, but I never really liked songs like
'If Stuart
Could Talk'
on record, but you gotta give Mr Phillips his dues as a very
effective stand up comedian within the dry humour stakes, and the puppet
he produces seem to be getting bigger and more grotesque by the decade.
In between all this mayhem
, they did tease us with the news a new album
would be coming out, although they couldn't quite recall which town they
were actually playing in?
Ha! But I bet there's a track written about the
'Warped' extravaganza on that fucker. They end the set with the other big
number of the night 'Gigantor' which saw the audience punching the air
and our LA guardian using his sweaty towel as a grubby cape as he flew
round the stage. They went off to the biggest cheers of the night, but
didn't keep us waiting long before returning minus Leonard
with the
surprise and utterly neat instrumental 'Rondo (The Midgets Revenge')
which was inspired by the bands original Midget roadie. Only the Dickies
could have a midget roadie. It only left us with one conclusion their
biggie cover of 'Banana Splits' which seen the whole crowd singing along
to. I left the venue smiling (but not singing) in the rain, thinking did i really
just see that!? Whatever way you like your punk served, when you see
the Dickies you realise they are still relevant, still highly entertaining and
still essential punk rock in a world of rules and regulations, but I love em!

WORDS AND PICTURES
P
eter Don't Care
(Additional Picture Julian Ebb)
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