For most of the past 47 years around this time of year 999 have played a London show, this year it was at the brilliant but bijoux West Hampstead Arts Club at a night put on by Shake Some Acton, who love a venue on the borderlands, in this case the borders of West Hampstead, Kilburn and Cricklewood.
This was a great three band bill of acts I've seen a good few times over the years. First on were 16 Guns who I have seen a few times, they have three types of songs, fast ones, even faster ones and blimey how fast. The four-piece opened by blasting through Evil Man like they wanted to play at supersonic speed.
Tom looked round the room and made sure he said hi to Gary who had come all the way from Australia for this gig as they dedicated Friend Or Foe to him, it sped by like an express train. The intro for James Bond was relatively slow before they amped it back up and blasted away telling us what they thought of dear old Jim.
They were joking about how ropey they sounded as they launched into the super speedy Cracked that raged away like a bullet to the brain that might have been used by the Killer at the heart of the next song.
The guitarist made sure to dedicate C 29 too Mimsy as a love song, an interesting concept, as I didn't hear much love in the lyrics Tom barked out at a thousand miles an hour. Private 999 felt like a fitting tribute to tonight's headliners even if the song was quite dark they ripped thorough it like they had the blues 'n twos on.
True Story was the claim they made for True Story that was as close to a ballad as they came, which was not close at all. Psycho frayed at the edges as the guitars seemed to speed up even more. Can't Pay Won't Pay was dedicated to the song's writer who as in the audience, apparently about the good old days of jumping the barriers to ride the tube for free. Rather than playing a New song they played a song called New that had scattershot guitars raging against the pummeled drums.
For a band who have always been under the radar Rock & Roll Stardom was a dream they were unaffected by, so they could take this tune like they were Motorhead on a mission to take out that Liar that annoys them so much, but nowhere near as much as the anger and bile spewed out during Feed The Paedos To The Sharks. That just left them enough time for a quick rampage through Johnny Be Goode that left the band panting for breath and most of the audience too.
After the break a slimline The Phobics came on, playing as a four piece as guitarist Paul was missing in action. As The Phobics helped the bands other guitarist Jeff Wallace to celebrate his 60th birthday in style.
They opened by taking a fairly sedate run through Won't Let go, well sedate compared to 16 Guns, as they were firing on all cylinders as Tom Crossley told us all about what happens In My Street a particularly dark tale of life in Deptford fun city.
Tom then implored us all to Die Slowly that had some furious bass playing from Moyni. Make It If You Try made clear that everyone should have a go at doing whatever they want too, as Jeff let rip on guitar. Like A Child had quite a rush to it as they were having a lot of fun like usual.
Charlie's drums soon seemed full of Wasted Rage as Tom looked for a few targets for his own Wasted Rage. Sick & Tired Of The 21st Century is a song that grows with stature as this century gets ever more calamitous and dark, so singing it amid current events it very much seemed like a song for today. What the world seems to be missing is a good healthy dose of Love that The Phobics hoped to inject into us all by the power of Moyni's bassline.
As ever they are still Down & Out In Deptford trying to get by and escape the squalor. They closed this ram raid of a set with a good smearing of Lipstick that was applied firmly enough to leave us all wanting some more.
By the time 999 came on it was like a game of sardines as Nick Cash and the boys launched into The Biggest Prize In Sport with plenty of fire and rage. I'm sure Nick was then singing No Pissheads rather than No Pity as it was played at breakneck speed with Stuart Meadows pinpoint Drumming nailing it down.
As usual Nick had a go at all the High Street robots on High Street Stinks that has Arturo Bassick pulling as many faces as he could while giving all he could on bass. I think it was Your Number Is My Number next as Nick introduced it as being the title song of the first album.
Feeling Alright With The Crew was a singalong classic with a brilliant sharp as can be solo from Guy Days. Black Flowers For The Bride was full on in our faces before Nick made clear that everyone crammed into the Arts club could be considered one of the Boys In The Gang, it's just a pity the gang isn't far bigger these days.
Nick then told us it was time for some new songs from the most recent album Bish! Bash! Bosh! As they launched into the opening song Don't Wanna Know it may have cloth ears but then some things need ignoring, unlike 999 who were sizzling hot. As usual My Dad Trashed My Submarine was dedicated to Nicks dad who was suffering from PTSD from WW2. Shoot wasn't about the bands favorite football comic though it did take aim at all sorts of evils.
Inside Out has some super nifty guitar work from both Guy and Nick as they did there best to get a Titanic Reaction from the crowd who went nuts for this rather amped up version of the classic from the first album. Lie Lie Lie seems to be the theme song for most politicians these days, a thought that's not lost on the band as this spat bile at us.
They got as lovey dovey as they can on I Really Really Really Like You but in reality they are as likely to head butt you, as hug you, as we all sang along to another classic. Nick put his guitar down for Emergency that had a bit of a mosh pit going on, not that there was really any room for it.
It was then time for them to celebrate the 46th birthday of the only 78 the band put out, the promo version of Nasty Nasty, this version had no shellacking, just super crisp guitars as everyone sang along with them. They then closed the set with a full-on sing along to Homicide to make sure we all knew we'd seen another brilliant set.
Of course, the place went a little nuts for an encore and soon enough it was time for their traditional cover of Sam The Sham and the Pharaoh's Little Red Riding Hood that was only the second song of the show that featured only one guitar. Nick picked his guitar back up for My Street Stinks as they rampaged through it before Nick put his guitar back down for the totally celebratory I'm Alive as we are all happy that 999 are still very much alive in 2023 as they closed a great hot sweaty show.