Ruts DC are as powerful and relevant as ever.
“As you know, we’re not a political band” said frontman Segs with tongue firmly in cheek as another masterclass in Punk Reggae was delivered by a band who have often been imitated but never bettered. No one chronicled the reality of street life and youth culture (such as it was) better than The Ruts and their vibrant renaissance in recent years has proved that they have lost none of their fire.
Last year’s outstanding album, Music Must Destroy, was one of the finest of the year and features heavily in tonight’s set to prove that Ruts DC new material is very much on par with the classic era. They kick off with Vox Teardrop followed by the classic SUS which has lost none of its menacing portrayal of state brutality in the intervening years. The following Mighty Soldier with the line “lay down your guns” couldn’t be more poignant in the wake of the Las Vegas atrocity. Backbiter and Surprise are driving rockers in Ruts ‘house-style’ while the dreamy-psych vibe of Peace Bomb is a perfect contrast to the faster tracks from the album.
There was always an air of darkness that hung over The Ruts and few bands have ever portrayed despair and loneliness so well as illustrated by the achingly beautiful West One (Shine on Me). It Was Cold is dedicated to Malcolm Owen’s wife Roxy who along with Paul Fox, Segs tells us, is always with the band in spirit. While there is inevitably a tinge of sadness every time you see The Ruts, there is no denying that along with the excellent Leigh Hegarty on guitar, Segs and Dave Ruffy have fashioned a three-piece that crackles with energy and delivers a live performance as dynamic as ever.
The timeless classics are lapped up by the crowd as the pulsing reggae of Jah War sits proudly alongside Something That I Said, In A Rut and the irresistible Babylon’s Burning. Encores Love in Vain and Staring at the Rude Boys are as essential as ever, but maybe it is fitting that they end with one of the stand-out tracks from Music Must Destroy, Psychic Attack. Ruts DC are as powerful and relevant as ever.
West One (Shine on Me)
Tears on fire
It Was Cold (for Roxy Owen)
Music Must Destroy
Something That I Said
Kill the Pain
In a Rut
Love in Vain
Staring At The Rude Boys
All words by Dave Jennings