Rat Scabies and The Germans – Notting Hill Art Centre

There’s a record shop in Camden that has a special section for CD’s by The Dammed. The special section is called ‘Boring Old Punk’. Make of that what you will.

The Germans, on the other hand, are a different matter entirely, well, almost. The line-up consists of ex-Godfathers Kris Dollimore and Peter Coyne on guitar and vocals respectively, with Mark Wrangham on bass, and Rat Scabies, of ‘The Dammed’, on drums. You can tell the number of Dammed fans that have turned up by their two-tone hairstyles. There are quite a few of them, and it means that there is at least a full house.

To be honest, ‘The Germans’ are a band that needs a full house to create any sort of atmosphere as they are a little under whelming at first. Opener, ‘War Machine’, is a good, solid, shouting sort of number, but it feels a bit flat, and it doesn’t really get any better as they crash on through ‘We Don’t Want Your Love’ and ‘Don’t Turn It Down’.

There’s nothing wrong with these songs in themselves, it’s just a bit by the numbers pub/punk rock, with an interesting interpretation of ‘Kraftwerks’ ‘Autobahn’, thrown in. It’s all a little flat, really, and the band seem more interested with taking each others pictures than engaging the audience.

Things take a turn for the better, though, with a song called, ‘I Don’t Feel Safe’, a fantastic slab of Stranglers-like urban paranoia, with a nice, heavy crushing bassline. They follow this with the fantastically bouncy ‘Sgt Roberts’, which immediately connects with the crowd and by now, they’ve really got a vibe going. The sweat is pouring as they blast their way though ‘Action’ and the wonderful ‘The Outsider’, which has an earthy swaggering feel to it, a bit like the Pistols at their best. They end the set with a cover of The Stooges’ ‘I Wanna Be Your Dog’, which is never a bad way to end anything and gets the front two rows pogo-ing away merrily.

The trouble with The Germans is that you never feel that they are really letting go enough. Rat Scabies is a powerhouse on drums but it’s slightly above average pub punk on offer here, wearing its influences on its sleeve. They are tight, and controlled and singer Kris Dollimore has a fair amount of charisma but a bit more is needed. It’ll be interesting to see how they develop. Worth seeing, though, at the moment, and you won’t be disappointed if you like a bit of noisy, stomp along, shouting, it’s just they lack the certain something needed to make it a really special band.

Karl Wareham

Updated: Oct 11, 2003

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