Pop Will Eat Itself – The Live Rooms, Chester, UK (27th April 2019)

Taking their name from an NME feature by award winning journalist and screenwriter David Quantick on the unsuccessful jangle pop band Jamie Wednesday, Pop Will Eat Itself were officially born out of the West Midlands in 1986 after previously existing under different names since 1981.  Initially experimenting with a Buzzcocks-inspired style of indie rock, they soon fell in love with the world of sampling after hearing U.S. hip hop acts Public Enemy, The Beastie Boys and Run-DMC.

After gaining attention with their 1987 debut Box Frenzy, their fusion of hip hop with industrial rock and alternative dance was fully realised on its follow-up This Is the Day… This is the Hour… This is This! two years later.  With its iconic cover art created by The Designers Republic, the Flood-produced album deserves far more recognition than it gets today.  With a kitchen sink approach to composition which saw them sampling everything from The Stooges to The Twilight Zone, the end result was an incredibly smooth, inventive and playful record that was ahead of its time.

Celebrating thirty years since the release of their finest creation, Pop Will Eat Itself stopped by The Live Rooms in Chester to perform the album in its entirety.  Featuring four of the five original members who worked on This Is the Day… This is the Hour… This is This!, with co-vocalist Graham Crabb, guitarist Richard March, keyboardist Adam Mole and drummer Fuzz Townshend performing alongside recent recruits Davey Bennett on bass and co-vocalist Mary Byker (taking over from founding co-vocalist Clint Mansell).

Despite the torrential sky piss that had been lashing down all day long courtesy of Storm Hannah, it would be a night to remember as Pop Will Eat Itself turned back the clock with a high energy performance.  Kicking off the show with album intro ‘PWEI Is A Four Letter Word’, they barrelled through classic tracks such as ‘Preaching to the Perverted’ and ‘Wise Up! Sucker’.  Crabb and Byker bounced up and down the stage as they switched places and went verse for verse, regularly making use of a megaphone.

The innovative, genre-mashing 1988 single ‘Def. Con. One.’ with its silly sing-a-long chorus received one of the biggest receptions of the night, while another highlight was the humorous James Brown-inspired ‘Not Now James, We’re Busy…’  After finishing off their performance of This Is the Day… This is the Hour… This is This! with the lengthy, Blade Runner-sampling closer ‘Wake Up, Time to Die’, they received a rapturous applause before bowing together and exiting the stage.

Returning for an encore of well known songs from other albums, they started with ‘Ich Bin Ein Auslander’ from 1994’s Dos Dedos Mis Amigos before moving into ‘Dance of the Mad Bastards’ from 1990’s Cure for Sanity.  The band enjoyed themselves so much they also treated everyone to performances of fan favourites ‘Get the Girl! Kill the Baddies!’ and ‘Bullet Proof’, both from 1992’s The Looks Or The Lifestyle. Dedicating their final performance of the night to recently departed friend Keith Flint, they blew the roof off the place with ‘Their Law’. A song they co-wrote with Liam Howlett for The Prodigy’s 1994 classic Music For The Jilted Generation, it was a fitting tribute to a music legend and a fantastic end to their thirtieth anniversary tour.