A Labour Party fundraiser, organised by Dave Clark and Bryony Walley
Frome’s Venue 23 hosts Attila the Stockbroker and Beef Unit for a modern day take on the benefit gig for the zero hours contract generation.
By around eight Venue 23 is already buzzing – not sardines, but buzzing – mates on the door, the Labour bucket customised with a cheeky Jeremy Corbyn pic, raffle tickets, bare floorboards and beers. The lights dim a little and on stage stride men in fluorry jackets and, workman like, burst into their anarcho-punk raw energy re-imagined for the vegan generation headliner, Beef Unit. A reference to the name factory farmers give to cattle. A unit of beef. They’re a whirlwind of raw energy, with great riffs and canny keyboards and a shaman rattle that swirls and punctuates the anti-globalisation, anti-establishment message that rants but never loses the plot. There’s a paen to the ‘Zombie Land’ experience that is Center Parcs, a brilliant howl of outrage that is ‘you hit my van and drove away’ and a dark piece of performance art that tells the tale of Martin, a paedophile – ‘what are we going to do with Martin?’ And yeah, they’re great. Dystopian and fresh.
All of which sets the stage nicely for the main man, Attila the Stockbroker. With over three and a half thousand gigs under his belt and his ninth collection of poems out about now it’s fair to say that Attila delivers. He’s sixty years old, and has survived Thatcher, step-fathers and bladder cancer. He lost his father at the age of ten and watched his mum slowly die of Alzheimers, he shares a birthday with the Aberfan disaster of 21st October, 1966 and never forgot the fact that the Coal Board killed the village’s children. He links 17th century levellers and ranters and diggers with Orgreave and modern day idiom, he’s rap and grime like Tempest and Stormzy, he’s fizzing with righteous anger and the raw tenderness of a good man.
His targets are wide-ranging and by turns personal and political, he lines them up – The Sun, The Express, The Daily Mail – and reserves his fiercest scorn for the what he calls the ‘servile right wing working class’, who have absorbed the ‘not for the likes of us message’ and serve their ‘betters’ by blindly voting Tory, against their best interests. For the destruction of the NHS, education, society, housing – like turkeys voting for Christmas, distracted by Prince Harry’s knob. He links Thatcher’s Orgreave to the modern day Grenfell disaster. He fires broadsides at the madness of Brexit by weaving in stories of his pre-Schengen European touring days – all cavity searches and hold ups. He delivers a tribute to Bob Crow and unions and debunks the myth of bankers being valuable members of society, laying the blame for the crash of 2008 firmly at their door, ‘so brilliant they bankrupted the country’. He bids them an Anglo Saxon farewell. Fair point, well made. His invective against the Trump/Theresa axis takes all of ten seconds. They are completely demolished, hand in grubby hand. Why waste longer?
They’ve banned Attila from playing ‘Anarchy in the UK’ at his beloved Brighton and Hove Albion, but he’s seen off the property developer millionaire hedge funder who stole their ground and lives to play another day. He’s the spirit of the eighties, laughing in the face of fascists, re-imagined for the zero hours contract generation. Money in the bucket, please ladies and gentlemen. Let’s give these Tories the heave ho.
2nd November, 2017