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Howard’s Alias
Bothered Face
Morgan's Puffadder
Rating: n/a

The evenings proceedings were quite different to the originally planned bill with headliners Long Beach Short Bus pulling out due to one of their members not being allowed into the country because of a mistaken identity. So with the headliners dropped and most probably a few very disappointed customers, we had the Good Clean Fun’s own ska-punk band from Southampton, Howard’s Alias, to close the events instead.

First up are local ska-punk legends Morgan’s Puff Adder who, in Maidstone anyway, are craved by the 15 year olds that wear their t-shirts and attend their all ages shows at the Union Bar as much as these 15 year olds crave White Lightening on a Saturday afternoon at the skate park. However, it is not as if this respect is not due, Morgan’s Puff Adder have been about strutting their stuff for a fair few years now on the local ska-punk scene and rightly deserve to have this loyal fan base of which a fair few do attend tonight. On the night Morgan’s Puff Adder play their simple, upbeat ska-punk tightly and seemed very relaxed on stage; or even off the stage when Matt, Morgan’s Puff Adder guitarist decided to play a song in the pit. Their recent addition of a small brass section to the band consisting of one man and his trumpet added another layer to their newer material whilst during older material he holds a can of beer in one hand, microphone in the other and sings a line of the chorus every now and then, waste not want not, I suppose. Morgan’s Puff Adder may be nigh on pleasurable to look at but what they lack in looks they make up for in ability to entertain and perform (even if it maybe fuelled by a few pints of beer).

Bothered Face came all the way from Jersey this evening; that small island near France that belongs to Britain and is home to one female dwarf and, from my knowledge, very few punk bands. The three-piece band played a very bland form of punk rock interwoven with a bit of vocals shouted by the whole band akin to the traditional hardcore bands like Agnostic Front etc. However, Bothered Face bare no more resemblance with hardcore and more to British Deck Cheese bands like Fletcher and Right Turn Clyde minus the catchiness of songs and melody that we come to know from them bands like Fletcher. Bothered Face got a very stale reaction from the audience and showed no interaction with the audience that they could’ve done. One song blended into another, no songs really stood out and it all became a bit bland and boring. Bothered Face’s terrible name became slightly ironic after sitting through their set.

The headliners, Southampton’s Howard’s Alias, came on to the stage minus one member since I last saw them and that was their trumpeter, Rob. This meant their sound didn’t sound as complete as it did on CD however it is not incredibly noticeable so I went on to enjoying their set anyway. They are a very tight band live and at points during their set they had the audience eating out of their hands. However, this was only in select moments like their famous song ‘Rob Wants You Dead’ and because of a very sparse crowd that gradually got thinner towards the end of the set as vast number of people had to leave by the time it was 10:45 to get their trains, buses, lifts etc. and by the time their set finished there were probably less than 30 people in the Forum which is a real shame. Matt, the guitarist/vocalist’s interacted with the crowd regularly, dedicating songs to parts of the crowd, waving goodbye to the people that had to leave early and even getting a large portion of the crowd to sit down for one of the songs whilst making strangest faces while playing guitar, a contestant to the Big D and the Kid’s Table bassist. Howard’s Alias set consisted of a lot of their old songs off the album ‘The Chameleon Script’ released in 2002 so they are well due for another release of which will be a split CD with Desa (Link 80’s new band) and a new album, both out this year, we were given a taster of things to come with the new songs they performed. Howard’s Alias will be back to the Forum very soon with RX Bandits and Desa, this will be a packed out gig and we can finally get to see Howard’s Alias in their best light.

Ben Small
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