1978 and a background of economic and political turmoil, a desperate time for teenagers looking for anything to express the anger and frustration, punk had fuelled the youthful angst of a generation. But although punk had started a movement with the exception perhaps of The Clash it lacked Articulate and musical songs to catch the imagination and political influence.
Then along came a band and an album to change that. Power in the Darkness The Tom Robinson Band brought a new intelligence and musicality blended with political comment and vision of a desolate future.
40 years on and the Tom Robinson Band appear at the Globe performing Power In The Darkness in its entirety to a vociferous crowd, not teenagers this time, but teenagers now in their 50’s and just as passionate about this album and it’s message as shown by the tremendous reception of Robinson and every song performed.
From the first chords of ‘Up Against The Wall’ to the brilliant passion of ‘Too Good To Be True’ and the title track every word spat out with passion.
It’s not the same line up but it’s the same message and same anger 40 years on, Robinson amazingly still keeping the venom in his vocals, still meaning every word, with guitarist Adam Phillips’s fierce and melodic sounds on his Les Paul proving fire to Robinson’s thunderous bass lines, and Andy Treacey playing the drums like a man possessed, Jim Simmons completes the driving and powerful sound on keyboards.
In between the frenetic, hard paced set, Robinson explains how the album had two sides as did all albums before the introduction of CDs and only lasted just over 40 minutes but the magic that was in those grooves still stands defiantly in tonight’s performance as it did in its original time.
Power in the Darkness was simply a great album of great songs reflecting a period of change and political movement. Robinson continued after the album performance with familiar favourites to fans ‘Martin’ and ‘Glad to be gay’ and of course the one everybody knows the his breakthrough hit 2-4-6-8 Motorway.
Tom sealed the mood of the night with ‘Don’t Take No For An Answer’ to finish Robinson standing with the band looking drained from a full on performance, a man in his sixties still giving every word and note true feeling.
As he commented 40 years on and what has really changed? Still politically the world in turmoil and socially people struggling, but his answer to his own question is ‘you still got to keep trying’ he is and the crowd are, the spirit of 78 , that lives on tonight.
I suggest digging out ‘Power In The Darkness’ and giving it a listen, it just might get those hairs on the neck standing.
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