Penetration, The Garage, London

The thrill of the new has re-energised this most peculiarly talented relic of the punk era.

Crowd-funding has pepped up Penetration to the point where a middle-aged moshpit in Highbury gets its kicks to the new stuff.

Not so long ago, the band were touring and although worth seeing, the set list varied little.

A gig in York featured a cold-stricken Pauline Murray who looked like she’d rather be fixed up on a hospital drip than have to sing. Cardiff, 18 months ago, was a bit quiet – it was Easter Saturday and a fair chunk of potential audience was out of town.

Gigs in Bristol, by contrast, were livelier and better received.

Who knows what the new album Resolution will bring but there was a vibrancy that has been lacking at the previous shows.

I counted eight tracks from it at this show – with the band on stage for about 75 minutes. None of them are duds and one – the single The Beat Goes On, was played twice, the second time as the second encore.

Slightly chubby middle-aged men pogoed frantically – enticing a few 20 somethings to do the same and the night took off spectacularly round about the fourth number – the first five tunes were all new. resolution

The band fed off that and if they’ve had better shows or receptions in previous years then they must have been crackers.

This version of the band feature even features a genuine punk legend – original Buzzocks drummer John Maher, sporting alien yellow-lensed specs and a bowler hat. Dressed largely in black he looked like he’d popped by after a day shift at the undertaker’s.

Almost as a tribute, the Buzzcocks’ Nostalgia was played. And, as an encore I Don’t Mind was featured – frustratingly lack of space on the iPad prevented filming of this unexpected gem.

The stage show has been worked on, outfits thought about, lighting synchronised and the chosen set list sprang welcome surprises.

The second album was half a lifetime ago. After 36 years the third is a better effort than most resurrected new wave/punk efforts. No names, but many re-formed bands have produced powder puff comebacks.

Though we were waiting for the old favourites, only one felt missed – Life’s A Gamble – and the show’s fresh attitude made up for any omissions.

The sound was quite a bit better than the Woodentops’ concert at the same venue 24 hours earlier.

Murray’s voice – the band’s USP back in the day and still the focal point – was strong and affecting, so the decision taken to continue and to write new songs has paid off.

Now refreshed and revamped, the band look and sound younger and like they’ve a few more years of gigs left.

*Don’t Dictate video to be uploaded

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