Live Review: Discharge – Wigan

Live Review: Discharge – Boulevard, Wigan
11th March 2023
Support: Rïot-Eye, Force Fed Lies
Words:  Dan Barnes

It was Samuel Johnson who famously stated when a man is tired of Wigan, he is tired of life – or certainly something like that – and he was right on the money. It feels like an age since I was last at the Boulevard, particularly with the postponement of the Crashed Out show, but finally the long-awaited arrival of the legendary D-beat wrecking crew, Discharge, has come; Wigan is braced like it’s derby day; let battle commence.

But before that barrage we’re given slight warning through the performances of a couple of supporting acts. First up is Rïot-Eye; four plucky youngsters from Manchester and Stoke-On-Trent who are absolutely revelling in their opportunity to share a stage with a legend like Discharge.

To be fair to them they are giving their all with a brand of sleazy punk rock, akin to the New York Dolls or Hanoi Rocks. Many apologies that I didn’t catch any names, but the singer looks like Jim Morrison and moves like Jagger – a born Rock Star if ever there was one, he’s hardly a shrinking violet when it comes to excursions into the front of the crowd from the get-go.

Rïot-Eye have the confidence in their abilities to shuffle through many sounds: one moment they’re sleazing it up like they’ve just landed from the late-Seventies and the next they’re cranking out some abrasive Metal riffs.

This is a big performance from a small band and the swagger they allude suggests they are not phased playing in the shadow of the behemoth to come. They make a plug for their social media platforms and promise new material coming soon. I think we need to keep a watch on this band, on this evidence, Rïot-Eye have all the potential to go big.

From youthful exuberance to grizzled cynicism as Force Fed Lies take the stage. A power-trio from the North East bristling with ire, theirs is the sound of angry punk protest, raging against authoritarian targets, both political and religious.

Each song is built on the solid work of the rhythm section of Steve and Kev, giving guitarist, Carlton, a firm foundation upon which to work. Simple but effective riffs and cutting vocals give Force Fed Lies the kind of sound punk was invented for.

There is a definite sense Force Fed Lies are where they should be as the anthemic SNAFU has all the hallmarks of tonight’s headliners. The front of the crowd is moving now, fuelled by unstoppable song after unstoppable song.

With a set drawn from the excellent Begging for Change album, the band deliver furious comments at the state of the word: Killing Time arrives with the driving force of a runaway train; Bibles and Bombs has something of the Cro-Mags about it, yet Eye for an Eye is given the time to grow and develop from the more sedate opening to the intense climax. This is punk rock as it was meant to be.

Looking around during the change over between bands and it’s heartening to see many of the same faces are back again, supporting Keith and KDS’ endeavours to bring the highest quality shows to this venue. For those who haven’t been to the Boulevard it’s the sort of venue you image when someone says: Punk Club; it’s underground, intimate and has a killer sound system, but is friendly AF, despite the sight of mohawks and studs suggesting otherwise.

Let’s face it – if you’re reading this you know who Discharge are and what they’re about. There aren’t many bands embraced with equal fervour by both Punks and Metalheads – Motörhead probably being the only other one that readily springs to mind – and Discharge are as at home on Damnation and Bloodstock stages as they are at Rebellion.

Now in their forty-sixth year the Stoke-based band (Lemmy was from Stoke, too – wonder if it’s something in the water down in the Potteries?) have influenced a generation of artists with their all-out musical assault.

From the very beginning of the set, as Bones and Tezz crank out the start of The Blood Runs Red, you can see this is a crowd pumped to the maximum. There’s a barrier in front of the stage and a lone security guard who, by Jove, is earning his corn tonight.

Dave and Roy orchestrate that signature Discharge D-Beat and JJ stalks the small Boulevard stage like a berserker looking for war. The hour-long set is obviously heavily weighed toward the debut record, with A Hell on Earth, Protest and Survive and The Nightmare Continues causing carnage in the pit. Hear Nothing, See Nothing, Say Nothing is received with a rapturous singalong as bodies are smashed and broken at the feet of the band.

At one point, during The End, I saw a young lad getting a random shoulder to the face, the kind of impact that would result in a Head Injury Assessment and a red card on a rugby field; yet this hardy soul just got up and carried on. May have to visit A&E tomorrow morning but, for now: Concussion? Pah!

The Beast from the East has arrived in WN1 so it’s unusually chilly in Wigan today and it takes JJ half a dozen songs to lose his shirt. When he does there becomes something primal about the performance; New World Order, Corpse of Decadence and Hatebomb all seem to land with more of the ferocity implicit in the songs.

Both A Look at Tomorrow and Ain’t No Feeble Bastard are dedicated to the “old fucks” in the crowd, many of whom are reliving their glory days, when the late Queen celebrated her Silver Jubilee and it didn’t hurt getting up out of a chair.

State Violence State Control, Accessories by Molotov and You Deserve Me come and go with barely a break to catch your breath. Leaving only Decontrol to round out the evening and sent us all, battered and bruised into the increasingly inclement dark.

I’ve seen Discharge many times, in venues big and small, and they have always delivered; but there was something extra about tonight’s show. Undoubtedly every time they set foot on a stage is intense, just tonight it felt even more so.

Long may the nightmare continue.

Header image credit: Tim Finch Photography

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