The Members – Friday 5th April 2019 at The 1865
Video link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NsHGnw1txLY
The Members are an essential band that emerged from the musical revolution of the late-1970s, but while they are rightly regarded as punk they have always been beyond labels, their lyrics merging stories of everyday life with a dynamic, maverick style. Born in Camberley on the south-west outskirts of London, The Members’ landscapes and concerns link to those of neighbours The Jam and Sham 69, tap into the rhythms of West London outfits The Ruts and The Lurkers. These five offer a vision of London that is gritty, varied and suburban.
Lacking the grand, rundown architecture of post-war inner London, the outer boroughs and satellite towns were for many years mocked by the hippies and art-school posers, and yet the suburbs were the home of punk’s rank and file. These areas had none of the facilities of the central zones, but they did have big young populations, and these tearaways were the ones who filled the football terraces and music venues. Often with family roots in a much older London, they loved the traditional pubs and markets, would travel long distances on tube trains to dip into their own heritage.
The Members’ debut album At The Chelsea Nightclub is a gem. There isn’t a duff track on the record. This is the best sort of literature, the lyrics lingering in the brain as they reaffirm experience and feeling. Sound Of The Suburbs, meanwhile, is a classic single that has crossed the generations and remains definitive, even more so today with inner London socially cleansed and the remains of our culture being sold off to the wealthy of the world.
One Law connects the dots as its crosses the intervening years. I saw them in the late-’70s and early 1980s, and I have seen the band recently. They are as brilliant live now as they were in the past. The Members are storytellers, deal in incidents seen, dreams and nightmares, the worries of youth and the sadness of old age. They stood up for the suburbs in the Seventies and they are still doing it in 2018. For me, they really are the sound of those suburbs I grew up in and love.