TVD Live Shots: Vive Le Rock Awards at the O2 Academy Islington, 3/27

I’ve been a massive fan of Vive Le Rock magazine since moving to London from San Francisco a few years back. It’s the one magazine that is keeping the spirit of punk and new wave alive and well in the UK, and they do it surprisingly well. So when a chance to attend the awards popped into my TVD inbox, I jumped at the chance and brought my camera along.

The bill for the evening was stacked, to say the least, plus they were teasing a special set from a 1977 band who would be reforming for one night only. Headlining the night would be The Stranglers, but before they would close out the night the stage would host a who’s who of punk rock and new wave icons from the glory days or the late ’70s and early ’80s both presenting and accepting awards while jamming away with the songs that defined the two decades.

Opening the night promptly at 7:30 was the house band appropriately named The Vive Le Rockers. While I’m not sure who the lead dude was, he threw down like a proper rock star and pretty much owned the stage while donning a full-on mariachi suit complete with oversized sombrero. The Professionals’ Tom Spencer joined in on the first set which included the songs “Pipeline,” “Green Door,” and “Know Your Product.”

Next, up Vive Le Rock editor, Eugene Butcher jumped on stage to welcome the crowd and to introduce one of my all-time favorite musicians, the legendary Glen Matlock from the Sex Pistols. Glen got the crowd going, opening with “Sexy Beast” and “Keep on Pushing” from his brilliant new solo record, and then closing out with a rebel rousing version of the Pistols’ classic “Pretty Vacant.”

Glen would surprisingly be pulling double duty tonight as he left the stage briefly to put down his acoustic guitar only to return with a bass. The secret band of the night was up, and it was an incredibly special performance by Glen’s band after left the Pistols, The Rich Kids.

There’s something very cool about watching a legend on his original instrument bringing to life a group that made some ground-breaking music back in 1977. It sounded just as powerful now as it did then as frontman Midge Ure broke right into “Sound of Marching Men” followed by “Ghost of Princes in Towers.” This one turned out to be the highlight for me and reminded me how much I loved the ever so brief musical output they delivered.

Penetration’s Pauline Murray joined Buzzcocks guitarist Steve Diggle on stage for a tribute to the late great Pete Shelley. She sang “What do I Get” followed by Diggle taking the reigns for “Harmony in My Head” and “Ever Fallen in Love.”

Barrie Masters of Eddie and the Hotrods delivered a spirited solo set including the classics “Teenage Depression,” “Do Anything You Wanna Do,” and “Get Out Of Denver.” Suzi Quatro celebrating her 55th anniversary as a performer delivered a stellar version of “Sweet Little Rock & Roller” before Ed Tudor-Pole brought pure anarchy and chaos to the stage with “Who Killed Bambi” and “Swords of A Thousand Men.” The Stranglers closed out the evening with the longest set of the night clocking in just under 30 minutes. It was a proper way to close out one of the most brilliant nights in recent memory. A celebration of both old and new—Vive Le Rock is doing an excellent job of keeping the punk and new wave legacy alive while nurturing new talent along the way.

There were a couple of sobering moments where the award winners had left us way too early with the passing of Ranking Roger the previous week and Buzzcocks frontman, Pete Shelley, the past year. Neville Staple (The Specials) and Christine “Sugary” Staple stepped in to accept the award for The Beat and the late Ranking, Roger, as part of the Roots-Ska/rock n’ Roll and Blues award. Buzzcocks guitarist Steve Diggle accepted the “Rock In Peace Award” in memory of the late Pete Shelley. Here are all the winners from the evening:

Roots – Ska/ Rock N Roll/ Blues Award – Ranking Roger (The Beat)
Best Reissue Award – John “Eddie Vibrators” Edwards and Ian Carnochan “Knox” for Our Burning Britain Box Set
Rock in Peace Award – Steve Diggle accepting for the Buzzcocks Pete Shelley
Best New Band – The Blue Carpet Band
Best Film – Lee Thompson: One Man’s Madness
Best Album – IDLES
Best Live Band – Stiff Little Fingers
Icon Award – Suzi Quatro
Maverick Award – Jaz Coleman of Killing Joke
Band of the Year – The Stranglers

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