Chumbawamba - The Met (Bury) - 17.6.04
When you're used to the life and soul of the city, the suburbs can be a strange place. We're in the centre of Bury town centre, England have just won the football and still you wouldn't know it. These towns where the inhabitants sleep when the rest of the country parties are exactly the sort of places Chumbawamba have been playing for years. Nearby Manchester hasn't seen a show for 7 years from the band, bar the No Them And Us anti-racist show the band played last year.
The venue itself is more used to see local theatre productions than concerts, but when Chumbawamba leap on stage to "She's Got All The Friends", musically coming from the same place as "Tubthumping" but lyrically an aside on It Girl culture, the intimate venue comes alive. The band have always been as much about putting on a show as delivering the politics and although the venue is half empty and the budget smaller than Galloway's Respect Party it doesn't really matter as it's more a case of friends getting together for a good time than the usual plug and play attitude of most upcoming bands. Older songs such as "I'm With Stupid" and "Jacobs Ladder" sit side by side with likes of "On Ebay" which segues into a version of the Verve's "Bittersweet Symphony". "Airflight 101" sees the band issuing a death list including the Beckhams, Richard & Judy and the recently deceased Reagan. Bye bye we sing back in approval. "Big Mouth Strikes Again" segues into the Black Eyed Peas "Shut Up", an acoustic version of "The Day The Nazi's Died" is more relevant than ever and "Tubthumping" gets the reaction it always does.
It's "Enough Is Enough" though that stands out as the true highlight. With the call to "give the fascist man a gun shot" it took the message direct from Chumbawamba and Credit To The Nation back in 1993 straight to the likes of the BNP. It also radicalized a group of students, myself included, that spent most of their time listening to shoegazing indie music and from that point on demanded a little bit more. It's not a very Chumbawamba thing to do, but in times like this we need that song more than ever and if it was re-released tomorrow it would resonate with a new generation.
When you mention the name Chumbawamba, most people's response is are they still going? The answer is yes, stronger than ever and still as ever doing it their own way.
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