Live Review: Dirty Rotten Imbeciles, Edwards No.8, Birmingham, 1990

Just what do you call this stuff? thrash? Hardcore? Speedcore? Crossover? Personally I favour the Crossover monicker, after the first DRI album I ever bought, and still one of my favourite slices of drastic plastic. So it was all the more unfortunate for me that the said opus was hardly touched on for material tonight, with a paltry two selections being aired. This is not to say that it was in any way a bad gig, but I miss the heady days of 1987's Crossover tour.

Ah, nostalgia ain't what it used to be!

The opening blast from the past I Don't Need Society was a non-starter, the first of several numbers to suffer recurrent guitar problems, although it did provide vocalist Kurt Brecht with the chance to begin developing a rapport with the crowd, a luxury denied him on previous occasions. After some delay ...Society was abandoned in favour of newies Standing in Line and Labelled Uncurable, the latter featuring some brain-shreddingly abrasive guitar, courtesy of sandpaper string merchant Spike Cassidy.

These were followed up in short order by a clutch of old favourites, including the ultra-fast How To Act and Argument Then War, during which Felix Griffin's speed-of-light drums first made their presence unavoidably felt.

More new stuff came next, with the supremely intense Thrashard; Kill The Words (straight out of today's headlines; and Strategy; the response to these new tunes showing that they already have their fans! Established classics, such as Hooked and Nursing Home Blues, punctuated this particular cluster of Thrash Zone songs. New bassist John Menor came into his own here too, enjoying himself hugely and looking as if he'd been with the band from the beginning.

Slumlord, Dead In a Ditch, and Suit And Tie Guy formed a triple-barrelled intro to Violent Pacification, Immediately afterwards, during another delay caused by a technical problem, Kurt indulged in some more cheerful banter with the audience, countering shouted criticisms levelled at DRI with the cutting "Well at least we tried - why don't you?"

Hecklers suitably abashed, Think For Yourself, respected double Mad Man and Couch Slouch, You Say I'm Scum and Abduction from the same album brought things to a close in fine style, while encore time saw I Don't Need Society (take two) pass without a hitch, along with one-time set opener (and personal favourite of mine) Five Year Plan, I'd Rather Be Sleeping and Beneath The Wheel.

Overall, the gig was characterized mostly by incisive guitar and an unfortunately none-too-hot vocal sound (possibly caused by technical problems?). I may have enjoyed myself more seeing DRI in the past, and the band may be more mainstream than they were originally, but they (and the legions of divers, wreckers, and all-round lunatics who support them) remain basically rotten to the core.

Mark Reynolds
Riff Raff
July 1990

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