written by Chris Familton
Ska’d For Life was the name given to the second night of Bad Manners’ Sydney gigs at the Annandale. This one was billed as a whole afternoon/night of ska music celebrating the original form of reggae and all its various mutations with mods, punks and 2 Tone fans gathering to celebrate ska and one of its longest serving bands Bad Manners.
Late afternoon saw the bands kick off with Jarrah Zen & The Switchblades playing a obnoxious and rudimentary set of punk and rockabilly tunes. It was pretty primitive stuff made to look all the more unappealing by the vastly superior Eager 13 that followed them. With the only female on stage for the night – Caz – they played an authentic set of late 70s/early 80s punk and ska. Rock Steady Dub Milita stripped things back to a three piece but delivered some nice dubbed out moments and a great cover of Gregory Isaacs’ Night Nurse amid their more generic ska/rock songs. Los Capitanes were the first band of the night to really ignite the crowd with a mad mix of ska, rock, hip hop and punk that somehow all melded together brilliantly. Their sense of humour, a killer version of In the Summertime and guest spots from Pete Porker added to the feeling of controlled chaos and amplified the party atmosphere. Backy Skank are stalwarts of the local scene, differing from the punk flavoured acts with a clean pop sound clearly modelled on Madness and others. What they did they did well and the crowd clearly enjoyed their set, especially their closing cover of The Specials’ Nite Klub.
Bad Manners have gone through hundreds of lineup changes over the years with frontman Buster Bloodvessel the only constant in the band. They played exactly what the crowd expected and wanted – a set full of hits, sing-a-longs, deep bass and a party atmosphere. The band played with just the right amount of precision and frivolity with the rotund Bloodvessel keeping the knees-up momentum going for the entire ninety minute set in front of a now jam-packed and sweaty Annandale. My Girl Lollipop, Lip Up Fatty, Lorraine and an exhilarating Special Brew were some of the highlights of their set. UK originators like Bad Manners are keeping the flame alive with integrity ensuring ska remains as strong as ever both as a heritage movement and one attracting new fans.
this review was first published in The Drum Media (Sydney)