At The Riverside, Newcastle, U.K., February 21, 2019

RUTS DC (Live at The Riverside, Newcastle, U.K., February 21, 2019)
Photo: Mick Burgess

As soon as this date was announced last year it was undoubtedly carved in stone in the diaries of many a Punk lover in the North East. Punk royalty Ruts DC with special guests The Professionals featuring Sex Pistols legend Paul Cook on drums was a shown not to be missed.

From the supernova implosion of the Sex Pistols arose The Professionals back in 1979 when Steve Jones and Paul Cook decided to put a new band together. After one highly acclaimed album that too crashed and burned. Fast forward a few decades and Cook decided to put the band back together again for a new album and some live shows. Although Jones contributed to the album and is still part of The Professionals family, he’s not part of the touring band preferring to reside instead in Hollywood and who can blame him.

Right from the crack of the starting pistol The Professionals meant business with their very own clarion call, Join The Professionals, planting their flag firmly in the ground with guitarist/vocalist Tom Spencer grabbing the show by the throat. With original bassist, Paul Mysers, currently on a hiatus, Toshi JC Ogwa stepped in as a more than able replacement looking every inch the Punk Rock star with South Shields born Chris McCormack providing some steel to the guitar department.

With new songs Good Man Down and Bad Baby sounding every bit as ferocious as the classics of old, Kick Down The Doors and 123, The Professionals had the crowd eating out of the palms of their hands and when the iconic descending chords of the Pistols classic, Silly Thing, crashed in the whole place went nuts.

Centre stage, Paul Cook, sitting on the drum throne surveyed the scene, hammering out the primal beats that drove the whole show and he was having an absolute blast. Quite rightly too as he’d seen his band deliver the sort of high energy Rock ‘n’ Roll show deserving of headliner status.

For most bands, following an explosive set such as that would be a huge mountain to climb. Ruts DC, however, have the perfect response. 2019 marks the 40th anniversary of the release of their classic debut, The Crack and tonight was the time for celebration by playing the whole album from start to finish in its original running order.

The only problem with playing whole albums is that it can overturn traditional setlists. In the case of Ruts DC this means their usual set closer Babylon’s Burning, was now the set opener. However, this conundrum worked in their favour as the Top 10 hit single provided the spring board for the whole evening.

The icing on the cake of the celebration was hearing those rarely if ever played live songs meaning the likes of Savage Circle, the heads down Punk fury of Criminal Mind and the pulsating bass of It Was Cold were welcomed like long lost friends.

Original members John “Segs” Jennings and David Ruffy on drums were joined by guitarist Leigh Heggarty and for a three-piece made on superlative noise while being tight and punchy. They cut quite a fine pose in their suits and hats, not the usual Punk Rock attire but then The Ruts DC aren’t your average Punk combo as they draw on wider influences including Dub Reggae as wonderfully demonstrated on the biting social commentary of Jah War.

Throughout the night Segs paid tribute to original singer Malcolm Owen who’s tragic death brought The Ruts to an end just as they had hit the big time and also to guitarist Paul Fox who died more recently and they would surely have approved of the current show.

With the full album performed with such vigour and passion there was still time for a few singles and songs from the proposed follow up to The Crack along with material from the current Ruts DC albums, the band that grew from the original band after the passing of Owen.

In A Rut’s yobbish gang vocals sounded magnificent and H Eyes went right back to the first bass line that Segs had ever learned. Music Must Destroy and the hook laden Kill The Pain showed that Ruts DC are very much a live and relevant band today 40 years on while Staring At The Rude Boys fired the parting shot that left the mosh pit in a swirling, sweaty frenzy. Job done.


  • Mick Burgess

    Mick is a reviewer and photographer here at Metal Express Radio, based in the North-East of England. He first fell in love with music after hearing Jeff Wayne's spectacular The War of the Worlds in the cold winter of 1978. Then in the summer of '79 he discovered a copy of Kiss Alive II amongst his sister’s record collection, which literally blew him away! He then quickly found Van Halen I and Rainbow's Down To Earth, and he was well on the way to being rescued from Top 40 radio hell!   Over the ensuing years, he's enjoyed the Classic Rock music of Rush, Blue Oyster Cult, and Deep Purple; the AOR of Journey and Foreigner; the Pomp of Styx and Kansas; the Progressive Metal of Dream Theater, Queensrÿche, and Symphony X; the Goth Metal of Nightwish, Within Temptation, and Epica, and a whole host of other great bands that are too numerous to mention. When he's not listening to music, he watches Sunderland lose more football (soccer) matches than they win, and occasionally, if he has to, he goes to work as a property lawyer.

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