It’s Wednesday night, it’s the start of Summer and one of “Fraggle Rock’s” royalty are in town! PWEI are back down South to debut material from new LP “Anti Nasty League”. First up though are the curiously monikered $HirtLifta. They are an “avant garde” 3 piece with arguably the strangest musical delivery this reviewer has witnessed in quite some time. They amble onstage to some great intro music, peppered with samples – then deliver a half hour set of beats, more samples and a curious, if somewhat strange delivery of “music”! I say music – the singer has a style so “out there” it’s difficult to know whether it is ‘ad-libbed’ on a nightly basis or has been perfected over time. Clearly it’s a sound for the digital age-there are two keyboard players, while the borrowed samples are aplenty. I’m sure I heard The Fall’s “Big New Printz” and a “Bela Lugosi” (Bauhaus) riff all in the same song! The vocal delivery also takes many forms. Part Marc E. Smith, Part Sleaford Mods (and no doubt many others I didn’t detect)! This crowd, like me have clearly seen nothing like them before and their applause is polite yet paltry. With a moniker like $Hirtlifta one could make their own assumptions too early, but this 3 piece are carving a niche totally their own. While I wont be rushing to purchase any of their material I am sure they will have gained a few more fans after tonight. They leave almost as they arrived, without fuss and a generous round of applause.

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And so to the headliners. Having never seen PWEI “back in the day” I wont make any comparisons to “are they as good as the original band” etc. I will focus solely on the now. When PWEI toured 2 years ago I saw them play to a small crowd in Bournemouth. I wondered then if we would ever see them playing some new material and whether they would even tour again? Thankfully they haven’t disappointed us, coming back fresh, with a new LP to plug. As usual they stride onstage and deafen us, opening with “Preaching To The Perverted”. This Southampton crowd respond immediately and before long many people are dancing madly down the front. “Crabby” and “Mary-Jane” Byker as ever patrol the stage in energetic style. “Wise Up Sucker” is note perfect and sung back to the band with equal pleasure. Everyone tonight is in the mood. From the “New Noise” LP we get the excellent “Nosebleeder”, then “Wake Up, Time To Die” sets us up for the new material part of the show. “They Cant Take It” and “Directors” stay with the PWEI sound but are more powerful-in fact Jason (drums) is hitting with ferocity almost throughout, grinning uncontrollably at the back. Davey (bass) even finds time to pose for pics whilst playing, as one eager punter sits on the edge of the stage and poses! “Digital Pollution” is the last “newie” to be performed before the rather current “Funk Fifa”. Crabby explains how the radio DJ’s refused to play the song last year due to its “lyrical content”! How apt would it be to release it as a single now with blanket radio airplay in the current climate?!

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The band then return to the classics. By now more people have moved forward to dance and are rewarded with “Everything’s Cool” and “Can U Dig It”, dancing uncontrollably. With everybody now in good voice they deliver a bullish “Ich Bin Ein Auslander” which sets us up nicely for an energetic “Bulletproof”. The Brook is jumping, quite literally! They end the main set with 21st Century before returning shortly with a rabble rousing “Def Con 1”. At this point Crabby and Mary are perfecting their “belly-bashing” dance as we down the front go wild. The now legendary “Get The Girl, Kill The Baddies” induces a huge singalong. As we catch our breath’s the band endure some technical difficulties before the planned final song “Their Law”. Instead we get the truly brilliant “R.S.V.P.” Once more we all sing in unison as the band join in on more picture-taking madness with the punters.

The band leave for the last time and take the plaudits. While in some corners PWEI’s “comeback” may seem like jumping on the bandwagon, but on tonight’s evidence there’s plenty still left “in the can”. And while the purists will always say “well if Clint ain’t involved it’s not really PWEI” I will argue for the cause of the current line-up. Crabby has assembled a new band who look great, have great stage presence and (as witnessed tonight) have a whole new catalogue of songs to pull from. Long may this continue. “Wise up Suckers” – this band are here for the longhaul!

Preaching To The Perverted
Dance of The Mad
Wise Up Sucker
92 Degrees
Wake Up, Time To Die
They Cant Take It (What You Won’t Let ‘Em Have”
Mental Pollution
Digital Meltdown
Funk Fifa
Everything’s Cool
Can U Dig It
Ich Bin Ein Auslander
21st Century

Def Con 1
Get The Girl, Kill The Baddies


Band Members
Crabbi and Mary Biker-vocals

Review by Ross A. Ferrone
Pictures by Jon Musselwhite