REVIEW: Bob, Bob, Bob and Bob at Revolver 26/05/12

Seeing the Bobs is an event in itself because they always attract a big crowd, but only seem to play one gig a year. Shaun McCoy went along to Wirral’s Revolver to see a Birkenhead institution in full flow

The band has always had a loyal following that has got bigger over the years thanks to younger fans joining the ranks. They’ve supported a host of bands including the Undertones over their long career. The guys describe themselves as Billy Bragg meets Slade. This is quite evident in their own unique brand of material which is a mix of social commentaries, politics, the music business, life, Birkenhead and beyond. The Bobs are arguably the best band the Wirral has ever produced. They’re Birkenhead’s answer to The Clash.

The guys kick off with an old favourite Fear and Love. Words that relate to something the late Bill Hicks said about people either ‘living in fear or living in love.’ It’s a powerful song by a powerful band made up of Owey aka Steve Owen (vocals), Steve Powell (guitar), John Major (bass) and Robbie Williams (drums). The next track Good Boy is about the exploitation of government youth training schemes. The music has the power of punk and the rhythmic style of classic indie bands such as Joy Division and Dr Feelgood.

Steve Powell’s guitar sounds like a chainsaw while Robbie Williams sounds like the Royal Artillery going off behind him while John Major adds further solidity with his dynamic bass playing. Top front man Owey gives the audience a brief description of what the songs about like new track Majorca which is about the outbreak of public schoolboy ‘Mockneys’ in the music industry.

Steve and Owey are a powerful vocal double act. Owey delivers a cutting lead vocal in his own inimitable way as Steve booms out his backing like a Sergeant Major. Old Men is another present day song about young soldiers and young Muslims being sent out to die by the likes of Tony Blair and Osama Bin Laden.

The Bobs have an audience that has been following them for more than 20 years. The first time I saw them was in the early 90s at an outdoor show in Birkenhead Park. They have such a lot of standout songs like Mr G – the condemnation of the BNP, Full Dutch Breakfast, Socialist and Die From the Excitement. The latter is about a night out on the town in Birkenhead.

Dr John raises the atmosphere even further as the audience go into overdrive. The encore features three more barnstormers Small Town Life, Monsters (about the media’s demonisation of the work class) and another Bobs favourite Reverend Jim. Owey gets into character by mimicking the actions of an evangelist – ‘Pray, pray, pray!’ A very fitting song to end a ‘spiritually’ exhilarating performance by Birkenhead’s finest band. You wouldn’t think the guys only do one gig a year because there are no signs of rustiness. That’s because they are so good at what they do. Let’s hope there are more gigs by the Bobs planned this year.

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