In May ‘18 it is exactly a half century ago that turbulent student revolts took place in Paris and spread throughout Europe. To mark the occasion, the city of Brussels has designated 2018 as ‘Year of the Contestation’ and asked all cultural players to offer an answer to the question: "What remains of the social, political and cultural revolution 50 years after May ‘68? Which forms of contestation are we familiar with today?"
AB responds and commits to protest music. The current social and political climate is unfortunately an ‘ideal’ source of inspiration. Noteworthy: "It’s remarkable that—in a year hijacked by Trump’s reckless, witless Twitter belches—artists didn’t dive to meet his level" – Pitchfork. And also: "Most of the year's socially conscious music has been far more personal than political" - Consequence Of Sound.
AB delves into the The Sound Of Protest and lets the voices of Turkish social protest songs, London’s grime, the call for (musical) borderlessness, the Black Lives Matter movement and working class heroes fully resound.
It’s impossible to avoid the association between protest and punk. The genre that already manifested itself in the US in the second half of the ’60s / first half of the ‘70s (MC5, The Velvet Underground, The Stooges, Ramones,...) and didn’t exploded in the UK until the second half of the ’70s with (of course) The Sex Pistols, The Clash, Crass ...
Enter PATTI SMITH, the godmother of punk, who wrote one of the ultimate punk classics in ’75 with her debut ‘Horses’. She actually wrote a (protest)anthem with ‘People have The Power’ (’88), and with protest songs like ‘Qana’ (about an Israeli attack on the Libanese city of the same name) and ‘Without Chains’ (about Turk Murat Kurnaz who was held captive in Guantánamo Bay for years) she often expresses herself in political statements. She is aiming for a concert hat-trick in AB.
Enter PUBLIC IMAGE LTD, or: loudmouth John Lydon. A direct attack on the establishment, he quite definitely wrote punk history with The Sex Pistols. His band was banned from stages and TV shows. He fired off musical cluster-bombs at the English government with ‘God Save The Queen’ and ‘Anarchy in the UK’, in a then broken England. He wrote politically loaded songs like ‘Rise’ (an anthem against apartheid in South Africa) with Public Image Ltd too and this year celebrates their 40th birthday. Live, PiL still sounds like one big chunk of pent up rage.
Enter CRASS – the collective that STEVE IGNORANT established together with Penny Rimbaud in ’77 – which is still the ultimate anarcho-punk band of all time! Their music was the equivalent of resistance, political activism, and direct action. Crass songs were essentially political commentary, which meant that they often (un)willingly clashed with the authorities. The release of the blasphemous single ‘Asylum’ led to an investigation by Scotland Yard that paid the band a visit. The release of the singles ‘How Does It Feel? (to Be the Mother of a Thousand Dead)’ and ‘Sheep Farming in the Falklands’ were an indictment of the Falklands War that let to questions in parliament. Crass was also behind the so-called Thatchergate tapes: manipulated tapes of a so-called conversation between Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan that was leaked and led to accusations of the KGB by The Sunday Times.
Enter – there they are again – SLEAFORD MODS. The duo is not only endebted to Crass – check out their musical rawness and working class ideology – but are also diehard fans. Feel free to call them the current punk-version of Crass.
Lastly, enter folk troubadour and working class hero BILLY BRAGG. In ’78, during a concert that was a part of the ‘Rock Against Racism’ campagne of his heroes The Clash, that Bragg realized that politics and pop could perfectly well go hand in hand. Bragg has been involved in grassroots organisations and political movements for pretty much his entire career, which is of course reflected in his songs. Famous social anthems got the Bragg treatment, eg the ‘The Internationale’ or ‘The Red Flag’ and songs like ‘Rumours Of War’ (as a result of the Gulf war), ‘There Is Power in a Union’ or the anti-war song ‘Island of No Return’ were rich with well-considered statements.
Bragg on his political activism: "I don't mind being labelled a political songwriter. The thing that troubles me is being dismissed as a political songwriter." At the request of AB, Billy Bragg draws from his classic albums 'Life's a Riot with Spy vs Spy' (’83), 'Brewing up with Billy Bragg' (’84), 'Talking with the Taxman about Poetry' (’86) and ‘Workers Playtime' (’88). Never before has protest sounded so pure and honest.
SLEAFORD MODS + STEVE IGNORANT (CRASS): SLICE OF LIFE + NACHTHEXEN + THE LOWEST FORM + MARK WYNN + STRUCTURE + JOHN PAUL + SUDDEN INFANT + NAIL (DJ) - SAT 07.04.18 – AB Complex – BUY TICKETS
PUBLIC IMAGE LTD. – FRI 08.06.18 – AB Main Hall – BUY TICKETS
BILLY BRAGG PLAYS SONGS FROM 'LIFE'S A RIOT WITH SPY VS SPY' (’83), 'BREWING UP WITH BILLY BRAGG' (’84), 'TALKING WITH THE TAXMAN ABOUT POETRY' (’86) & ‘WORKERS PLAYTIME' (’88) – SUN 17.06.18 – AB Flex – BUY TICKETS
PATTI SMITH – TUE 13.08.18 & WED 14.08.18 & THU 15.08.18 – AB Main Hall – BUY TICKETS