Review published in Wiltshire Gazette and Herald Thursday 18th June (unedited)
Those of us who ventured out in Devizes on a school night to The Corn Exchange couldn’t quite believe our luck. The evening kicked off with the heavy sound of 2 Sick Monkeys, Wiltshire punk royalty. Pete “We just want to make people happy” and Fred Monkey, a man of few words, from Swindon, are an in your face two piece who steamed through their set with No Brakes and cheerfully instructed us to leave the building in no uncertain terms.
Then on came The Ruts DC, in their second incarnation since 1977, when they burst on to the scene as The Ruts, on the front line of punk and protest, rocking against racism and railing against injustice with their unique combination of roots, punk, reggae and ska. The book of the band is titled Love In Vain, after the hypnotic lament released only months before the death of the charismatic Malcolm Owen to heroin in 1980. Many bridges are under water since those days, and one might have expected world weary cynicism from a band so haunted by loss, but we were to realise swiftly that The Ruts DC have spent the years evolving their magnificent sound to the point of perfection.
Segs Jennings played mesmeric bass and sang with poignant tone, Leigh Heggarty surprised with intelligent riffs and the genial Dave Ruffy on drums co-ordinated the trio with a twitch of an eyelash. They’d got us with SUS, we were Staring At The Rude Boys and reminded that there is always a Jah War somewhere. We were no longer In A Rut and our Babylons burned with exhilaration and joy. We marvelled at the glory of this band and wondered where the years had gone, we remembered songs we had forgotten we loved, we danced and shouted and generally rejoiced. One bloke was heard to say that to his shame he had been just too out of it to see them years ago but is beyond excited to see them now.
The Ruts DC are still fresh, polished and relevant. They still rehearse diligently, and it showed. They kept up the quality and pace for ninety minutes, leaving us delighted and wanting to follow them on the rest of their musical journey. On the way out after the gig a band member whispered “Thanks for keeping the faith.” On behalf of those of us who were there, the pleasure was all ours.