The Professionals at Garage, LondonSupport: Hands Off Gretel
October 28, 2017 at Garage, London
Promoter: Savage Gringo
It’s is the 40th anniversary release to the day of the Sex Pistols’ game-changer Never Mind the Bollocks. The Professionals, the band formed by Paul Cook and Steve Jones after the ashes of the Pistols, perform at North London’s Garage to celebrate the release of their new third album What in the World, a mere 36-years-later follow-up to their previous album. The band originally disbanded due to an horrific car crash on a U.S. tour in 1981. The reformation only has Paul Cook from the said original line-up, as L.A. based Steve Jones instead guests on three tracks on the said new long-player but has given his full blessing to tonight’s band.
Before then, down from South Yorkshire are young punk upstarts Hands Off Gretel who are rather pleased to be supporting their heroes, and they get proceedings off to a committed flyer with an assured, confident and tight display of grunged-up ferocity. While during their set the constant trickle of people arrive doesn’t deter their aim at powering through their Hole, Babes in Toyland inspired blasts. With a new album in the pipeline for early next year they are a band worth listening out for, and they promise it will be considerably better than their debut.
And so, onto the somewhat surprising return of The Professionals who emerge onto the stage and proceed through a set of finely balanced mix of old and new material. Obviously, the older material sparks the crowd more for audience participation but the new album, only released the day before, keeps their terraced styled big choruses intact while steered with unrelenting power by Paul Cook’s big hitting rhythms, so it’s no surprise towards the end when he asks for a set-list change because he is feeling tired, though the substitution is pretty much at the same tempo and is attacked with the same gusto as before.
Yes, this is pub rock, so some of the songs can plod and they can lack a bit of variation; but when seeing the band are clearly having fun and the amount of hard work they are putting in, it’s time to put any disparaging thoughts aside and just enjoy. The stand out rousers are the early singles ‘1,2,3,4’, ‘Kick Down the Door’, ‘Join the Professionals’ and the lead-off single from the afore-mentioned new album ‘Good Man Down’. While the newbies ‘Let Go’, ‘Extremadura’, the Bowie–Lemmy tribute ‘Going Going Gone’, and the extremely catchy ‘Take Me Now’ shouldn’t take too long in the future to be greeted with the same enthusiasm as the older material.
There are many moments throughout where the Pistols sound can be heard, and to confirm their association they finish with the uproarious ‘Silly thing’ before they briefly depart. And the big treat for the crowd, the majority of whom are old enough to remember the Pistols back in the day, as they are duly reminded, if it was indeed needed, of the said anniversary by Paul Cook, before he returns to his drum stool and the band blitz through ‘Bodies’ and ‘Pretty Vacant’. The place erupts, and it is worth the night out alone to watch 50/60-somethings have a good go at reliving their long-gone youth.