Live Review: Dead Men Walking – Fleetwood

Live Review: Dead Men Walking – Fleetwood
13th November 2021
Words: Dan Barnes

Devout Cod-Heads that they are, even the family Marland would admit Fleetwood is not on the touring radar of most bands, especially not one with the combined gigging experience of messers Brandon, Burns, Jennings and Ruffy. Add to that the chance of seeing Dead Men Walking – no matter which iteration is on tour – is one about as rare as rocking horse s… well, you get where I’m coming from here.

The other three shows of this four-date mini tour celebrating the release of first actual studio album Freedom – It Ain’t on the Rise, took place in the more usual locations of Glasgow, Gosforth and London; whereas the stately setting of the art-deco Marine Hall on Fleetwood’s seafront feels unfamiliar to begin with but, once seated, the grandeur of the surroundings make the location seem an obvious choice.

But first, you can’t visit Fleetwood without sampling the local delicacies and a fish supper so fresh that it was looking for Nemo mere hours before is the perfect entre to the evening.

As with the album, Dead Men Walking’s set was a set of reimagined songs from the participant’s day jobs, with stories in between giving some background and context to how they came about. Most were coloured with a sorrowful, but darkly humorous, tale, such as Segs telling the story of former Ruts frontman, Malcolm Owen’s funeral, where the committal was accompanied by the track Golden Boy and a comment from Damned drummer Rat Scabies as to how the royalties would be sorted out.

There was a chemistry between all four members of the band that was apparent from the get-go. Obviously, between Segs and Dave due to their forty-plus years playing together in The Ruts, but also between them and Kirk and Jake, with the feeling of the evening sitting in someone’s living room as they break out a few guitars and a small drum kit and relive the glory days of their punk past, regaling us with stories of the road.

Kirk Brandon seems to be ageless and his continual touring with Spear of Destiny and the upcoming December trek with Theatre of Hate shows he’s not quite ready to put his feel up yet. We get covers of Slave, The Price and Never Take Me Alive from his long and illustrious career.

The dominant garment of the evening seems to be a Stiff Little Fingers shirt and Jake’s Ulster accent and natural ability to spin a yarn means the SLF crowd are well serviced tonight. Wasted Life has the foreword of Jake and a friend seeing the paramilitaries parading through their town and the confirmation of where that opening line originated; the reiteration, as he does at every SLF show, in the introduction to My Dark Places that it’s okay not to be okay.

But it’s his tale of trying to write a Christmas tune and ending up with, as he stated: “a song about kiddie-fiddling priests”, that brings much needed levity to the subject matter of Guilty as Sin – though, as he played through the acoustic version, I couldn’t help but start to hear the originally jingly-jangly Yuletide intention.

Jake also told a tale – nothing to do with the follow song, Suspect Device - about being out on the lash with Gary Kemp of Spandau Ballet when that band was at the height of its popularity.

On paper it was probably one of the more unusual gigs I’ve been to; but the music was excellent, the tales were funny and emotional, and the venue was a testament to the architecture of the British seaside, cira 1930.

Oh, and the fish supper was magnificent.

Header Image: John Bolloten Photography

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