Live Reviews

  Punkrockblues - Dave Arcari, John McNeill and Jonny Parr live at State Bar in Glasgow

An interesting concept, this one. Take a punk, a rocker and a blues man and put them together in the basement of a pub and give them only an acoustic guitar to impress the notoriously difficult crowds of Glasgow. It happened one wet Thursday night in Glasgow.

Immediately put at ease by the surprisingly low price of Guinness in this city centre venue, the Bluesbunny took up a suitable listening position to enjoy the show. The bar staff informed the Bluesbunny that a fresh barrel of the beloved Guinness had just been put on. Another good omen. The amiable Dave Arcari welcomes people as they enter. There is a fair size crowd covering a wide demographic as they say in the marketing world. Looks like it will be an interesting night.

John McNeill, lead singer of punk band the Zips, takes the stage first. He starts off with "30 years of Punk Rock" a song from the Zips current album. The Zips have been around some 28 years but it has taken this long for them to cut a CD. The song brought back memories of the heyday of punk and proved that the punk ethos has not died. You need energy to make music not a soulless marketing department. Music isn't about making millions was his message. Rounding off with "Don't Give Me That", the Bluesbunny was struck by how well these songs survived without a band to keep them alive. It rather proves the point that the song is the important thing. Although initially nervous, John McNeill convinced us of that.

Next to the stage is Jonny Parr from Glasgow rock band Attica Rage. Sporting a mane of streaked blond hair, it was not difficult to guess his musical genre. Launching into his first song, he is an altogether more dramatic performer and sounds almost as big as a band. Clearly a very proficient guitar player, he makes a very credible effort at shaking the walls of this basement room without the help of the excessive amplification and power chords. It is not just about noise though. "Contradiction" shines through and he ends with a very appropriate cover of Motorhead's "Ace of Spades". Again, the songs get by very well on their own.

It is time for Dave Arcari to take the stage. Wearing a shirt with a Ramones logo emblazoned on the back, he is obviously going to enter the spirit of things. He plugs in that shiny National guitar and lets rip with "Dreamt I Was 100". That gravely voice and aggressive guitar style are his trademark. He gives a playful performance taking the kind of liberties with tempo that you would expect of a jazz musician but this is the kind of guy that sweats. He is there because he is a showman and he is there to entertain the audience. Judging from the applause, he succeeds.

Returning to the stage to loud applause is John McNeill. His nerves have now been overcome. He sings about his hero, Joe Strummer, with feeling and passion. It is gratifying to hear someone sing about something that they believe in. Ending with a biting bit of political commentary with "Govern Meant", the soul of the Clash lives on in him. Jonny Parr takes the stage again and blasts his way through more theatrical rock informing us that Attica Rage are alive and well and will be supporting a Kiss tribute band shortly. He finishes with a fiery version of Ozzy Ozbourne's "Mama, I'm Coming Home". Dave Arcari takes his turn next and after informing the crowd that "if anyone is thinking of going home then you can f*ck right off!" he kicks off "Red Letter Blues". The most impressive thing about our Mr Arcari is that he is a truly demented live performer with a remarkable degree of rhythmic control. The recordings that Bluesbunny has heard do not do justice to the sheer manic energy of his live performances. Take that as a recommendation. Catch him live when you can.

Punkrockblues promo photo

Joined on stage by Messrs Parr and McNeill for a blazing finale, our Three Musketeers can barely be contained by the tiny stage in this compact venue. The music spills out over the appreciative crowd. Since a stage invasion would hardly be appropriate in this venue, Dave Arcari does the next best thing and invades the crowd. Punkrockblues was an interesting concept that aroused our curiosity but it turned into a damn fine night of quality music. The audience certainly seemed to enjoy it and so did the musicians involved. We hope that they do another one. By the way, the other option for this wet Thursday evening was to go and see that serial husband Rod Stewart as our grandfather had told us that he used to be a singer. Bluesbunny knows that he made the right decision by experiencing Punkrockblues instead.

Review Date: June 5 2007