As memories of New Year resolutions fade, it’s time to step down into the legendary 100 Club for some punk nostalgia of the best possible kind. Sure, punk died exactly 41 years ago — in late January 1977 when The Clash signed with CBS for £100,000 — or at least that’s what the authentic ‘Sniffin’ Glue’ punks said at the time. But, like the best punks, the brilliantly named Resolution Festival doesn’t care what anyone else thinks. It brings together punks old and new to celebrate rock music with resolute pride.

Resolution Festival 2018 started on 4th January with The Vibrators and The Lurkers. It ended on 14th January with UK Subs supported by The Ramonas. In between, it hosted (among others) Anti-Pasti, The Members, Vice Squad, Menace, GBH and Discharge

You’d imagine that the youngest people in the venue on the festival’s closing night will be members of up-and-coming The Ramonas, but by the time UK Subs come on stage there are several teenagers and millennials up front, mingling and pogoing with the older types. The lack of age-discrimination is great. The Ramonas invite UK Subs front man Charlie Harper on stage for ‘Tearaway’ to play harmonica. He’s excellent (harmonica is his musical instrument of choice) and hails them as “brilliant” before heading off ahead of his own headlining performance.

The Ramonas started as a Ramones tribute band, but now have an EP (‘You Asked For It’) and album (‘First World Problems’) of their own original material to draw from. Tonight, they play almost everything on those releases, cutting out a couple of songs as time’s tight. Scottish lead singer Lisa Breyer has Scotland with a Saltire, 999 and UK Subs patches on her denim jacket, over a Motörhead T-shirt. Her energy on stage reflects her passions. Maxine Cahill thrashes her guitar fearlessly, while bassist Victoria Smith and drummer Camille Phillips keep the beat fast and furious. Years playing Ramones songs has rubbed off on this lot, making for a no nonsense, high-paced blitzkrieg of songs.

Given the generational difference, you might expect UK Subs to slow it down compared with The Ramonas. Only handsome (in a Sid Vicious way) drummer Jamie Oliver gets near them in terms of age. Not a bit of it. Five songs in, it really kicks off. ’Rockers’ from 1979’s debut album ‘Another Kind Of Blues’ is unbelievably fast and tight: “Born a rocker, die a rocker,” the crowd chants. ‘Emotional Blackmail’ from 1980’s ‘Brand New Age’ is another highlight, Oliver hitting drum rolls at mega-pace.

Charlie Harper’s Subs have managed to release 26 LPs in 37 years, naming them in alphabetical order. After the A and B of the albums named above came ‘Crash Course’, then ‘Diminished Responsibility’, and so on. Brilliantly, P was achieved by releasing the ‘Peel Sessions 1978-79’ in 1997, and they got X by calling their 2013 album ‘XXIV’, as it was their 24th, naturally. 

Harper doesn’t need a setlist, he knows it backwards. This is his own creation, but not his grande finale, nor his goodbye (paraphrasing John Lydon in ‘Public Image’). Harper has been through over 20 musicians (not as many as Mark E Smith in The Fall, admittedly), but he’s no fearsome and controlling dictator. Bassist Alvin Gibbs tells him to move out of the way, as he needs more space, and Harper obliges, for the most part. When he edges back, Gibbs warns him not to touch his G-string again. Guitarist Steve Straughan ends the set standing on the bass drum. 

They get through most of the hits — the almost pop melody of ‘Tomorrow’s Girls’, the rowdy sing-along ‘Teenage’ (“I wanna be teenage”), and another sing-song for the punk-reggae of ‘Warhead’. The main set ends with a celebratory ‘Riot’, a happy, bouncy ‘Stranglehold’ (their biggest chart hit) and the speed-punk of ‘Disease’.

Highlights of the encore — after a crew member encourages the crowd to chant “UK Subs” to bring them back from the side of the stage — are the first single and its B-side, ‘CID’ and ‘I Live In A Car’ — true punk classics, even if they were released after The Clash signed for CBS. Let’s hope the 100 Club celebrates the New Year in 2019 with another dose of Resolution. 

The Ramonas played:
Hard & Fast At 69
2016 (£**k Thi$)
Cotton Wool Kids
Quarter Life Crisis
Speak Up
Zombie Crawl
I Can’t Cope
Sue Me
Ramonas Gone To Freiburg
The Daily Fail
Microwave Mandy
First World Problems

UK Subs played:
Lady Esquire
You Don’t Belong
Left for Dead
Here Comes Alex
City of the Dead
I’ve Got A Gun
Emotional Blackmail
Another Cuba
Fear of Girls
Bitter & Twisted
Tomorrow’s Girls
Party In Paris
I Live in a Car
Limo Life
New York State Police

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