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CKY - O2 Academy, Liverpool 19.05.2017

On the 19th May Liverpool’s O2 Academy played host to two pivotal Hard Rock bands. Both groups were, and still are, influential Rock bands although perhaps not as successful as some of their peers. The doom and gloom of The Mission did not penetrate and interfere with the ‘beer and bro’ vehemence of the ‘CKY’ers', indeed, this was a crowd full of pre-Youtubers; a congregation of then teenagers who grew up watching Jackass and Kevin Smith movies. And yet, despite feeling like an outsider, an alien who had stumbled upon a pagan gathering, I felt at home with this crowd. That’s because I am one of ‘them’; I grew up with P-Rock, Scuzz, Kerrang cable television and I played ‘128-bit’ video games, before they went ‘online’. To me, CKY, had always anchored to this culture and additionally one had always felt like their music was somewhat slightly edgier than the likes of Blink 182 and Goldfinger.

The stage was illuminated with disco-y blue metallic glow. Suddenly shadows appeared as the band walked on stage, albeit 20 minutes late according to the set list sellotaped to the wall. This didn't bother the crowd, as all one could hear were chants of ‘C.K.Y’ reverberating around room. And this was before the band picked up their instruments. ‘The Human Drive In Hi-Fi’ gets the crowd bopping, the tune sounds like a Hardcore band covering some dodgy 70's cop show theme. The crowd love it and they are sold. ‘Sporadic Movement’ mirrors our first rocker, big disco’y chorus with 80's Hair Metal verses, whats not to like. The rhythms drop, and the sludgy funk of ‘Sink Into The Underground’ tells the audience to swagger rather than slam dance. More big riffs follow, and ‘CKY’s’ chants follow them too. The band pause after ‘Flesh Into Gear’ and talk to the audience. Like over enthusiastic tourists, they remind us incredible and wonderful the city is and, unfortunately, how many ‘pretty chicks live here’. That statement didn't go well with both myself and the audience. A few more songs in and guitarist/vocalist Chad I Ginsburg mockingly murmurs ‘everyone knows this song’. Pause, and riff. ’96 Quite Bitter Things’ takes off. Not one person in is this room had not heard this song, in fact, I would go as far as to say you, the reader, are humming it in your head right now. This is because the song features the catchiest hook of all time and it belongs in the league of top twenty guitar riffs. On stage however, there was a sense of disconnection. One felt the band had performed this song far to many times and on too many stages. Sadness ensued later on in the set as the band paid tribute to Jackass star Ryan Dunn and dedicated ‘Afterworld’ to him. Enthusiasm reappears and it was plentiful in relation to the bands new material, indeed one felt a surge of electricity run through ones body when the band performed ‘Days Of Self Destruction’ a track off their new album. Big riffage spewed out from the monster sized bass cabs and the drums pummelled all those right next to the stage. At times, it felt like one was head banging to Clutch covering Sabbath live. This felt really good and this was the band in its prime.

Encore time now and the band hit it off with a cover of GG Alins ‘Bite It You Scum’. This took me way back, as it was the first segments I watched on my 2004 HellfestDVD, back when CKY where the biggest name on the disks front cover. The band closed the set with a song chosen by the fans. The people picked ‘My Promiscuous Daughter’ and so the band and the song ploughed on though and although the tune felt a little stodgy it still felt big. The lights came back on and people began to depart. I was certainly looking forward to being outside in the fresh air, free of sweat and heat. It had been over 15 years since I opened my Tony Hawks Pro Skater 3 Playstation game, 15 years since my ears first descried ’96 Quite Bitter Things’. Was I impressed? One can only say both yes and no. Sadly founding member Deron Miller is no longer in the band and I was slightly disheartened to see his place occupied by another member of the group. Perhaps this is because I will never see the band in its original lineup, another missed opportunity. Indeed the band will probably remain a ‘cult’ band until the end and I certainly felt like that outsider. The band seemed eager to move on from the past and they have every right to do so. I would like to revisit and listen to those huge down-tuned guitar come bass riffs again albeit without the clichéd cock-rockery.

Review - Lewis Mcwilliam

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