Steve Ignorant sells out Crass and Punk Rock!

April 25, 2011

Steve IgnorantSo this weekend my girlfriend and I went to see Steve Ignorant preform his old Crass songs for one last tour (amusingly enough called “The Last Supper”). Not a bad way to spend a Good Friday if you ask me.

Before the show there was an interview and book signing at Hits and Misses, a small little shop on Queen St. Now before I get into the interview, and meeting Steve Ignorant, let me just say Rotate This has some of the best stock of 7 inch vinyl that I have seen at a store in a long time.Sham 69, Condemned 84, Elvis Costello, Bad Manners? Yep, you can find them all there. So I will soon be broke again, but on the brighter side my record collection will have grown, just making me more correct in saying that my music collection is better than yours. But that is for another post...

Steve Ignorant showed up, and chatted with fans for a bit, and signed a poster for a friend of mine, which was pretty cool. Then the record store clerk started the interview, and Steve did his best to answer all questions tossed to him, telling the odd joke, and basically having a good time. He talked about songs and bands that influenced him, oi music, the Business, his admiration of skinheads who get it right, band fights, growing up in the UK and writing his book. A book which by the sounds of it should be a cool little read, one I will be picking up when I have a few extra bucks... or considering my birthday is in June, if anyone wants to grab me a copy and put a pretty bow on it, that'd be a cool little gift.

Half way through the interview, a young peace punk girl asked Steve some interesting questions. She was asking about how he felt playing without the rest of the Crass, playing in larger venues, and charging 20 bucks a ticket (plus the extra ticket master tossed on to sell the tickets). All were legit questions I thought, and Steve started to give his answers. Not a big deal really. But what did bug me is this little punk girl started to cut him off when he tried to answer all of her questions, accusing him of selling out, betraying the Crass and blah blah blah...

This girl tried to put Steve in his place, and was quite rude and insulting to him, and the unfounded lack of respect bugged me. But Steve, to his credit took it in stride. She told him how he should have made this a DIY (do it yourself) tour, and not play in large “corporate” venues, and the ticket prices were too high. Steve countered (or tried to, she kept cutting his answers down, because she was more “Punk' than him, and she knew it) that he was coming over from the U.K. plane tickets are not cheap, hotels and buses were not cheap, and he wanted this to be a quality tour, and booking agents, sound men, etc etc would all want to get paid for their time and effort. We all have rent to make, bills to pay, mouths to feed (Steve as it turns out has a dog he misses very much), and as great as it would be to tour like it was the 80's all over again, the world has changed, and it just costs more to do things. And you know what? He is right.

The girl then bitched him out about how she wants to remember the Crass as they used to be, as a peace Punk political band, and not a “corporate” one man show. Steve said if she didn't like it, no one was forcing her to go to the show. She then said that she was not... and this bugged me the most.

Now before I go on about my thoughts on this, and why she pissed me off, I'd like to say for the record I've never been the biggest Crass fan. This is not meant as an insult to the Crass, I've just always been in the boss reggae camp, and even a little bit into the older oi sounds. There are Crass songs that I do like however, and for the most part I have always respected a lot of the bands morals and such, so please do not think that what I am about to write comes from some uber fan response. This is not a “you insulted my idol, so I hate you and feel the need to tear you down” posting.

The first thing that bugged me about all this was that Steve was trying to answer this girl 30 something years younger than him, showing her nothing but respect, and treating her as an equal. She did not treat him with the same respect, even though she claimed to be a big fan.

The second thing that bugged me was her going on about “corporate” venues and such. The Opera House (a venue in Toronto) is a far cry from the Rogers Center (or SkyDome as all of you older people reading this might remember it.) or any other big stadium. Yeah we would all love to see the bands we listen to play in our basements or backyards, but for some of the older and more popular bands, this is just not possible. 2000 people will not fit in your backyard (unless you are a rich kid, and if you are having any Punk band play your place might not be the best idea you have ever had). So a medium sized venue is the best bet for fans. And make no mistake, this tour is actually for the fans. Also, I'm looking at the ticket stub right now, and it doesn't say “Coca-Cola presents Steve Ignorant's Crass”. The man is in his 50's and singing Crass songs at the top of your lungs is hard enough on a young persons vocals. Give the guy a break.

Which brings me into point three. I'm in my 30's. Sleeping on a friend ratty old couch or dirty hard floor is really something I'd rather avoid. One night? Not so bad... A weekend? Hard on the back, but it can be done. But for every night for more than 5 months? To hell with that! Even when I was a teen that would have been horrible on my back. Steve Ignorant had to do that back when Crass toured. Do you think that your father could do that (or god help me, depending on the age of whoever is reading this, your grandfather)? Of course not. Let the man have a tour bus and hotels. He has earned it.

Now we get to point four... This tour was not about the money. And it was easy to see that it was not by Steve deciding to hold little book signings at smaller indie places. Anyone and everyone was welcome to come in and talk to Steve. He was autographing anything he was asked to (my girlfriend asked him to autograph a Crass Poster she bought, and commented how she was amazed that he spelled her name right, most people adding extra letters... so under her name he wrote 'mouthy bitch' as a joke, and then signed my name to her poster and wrote 'nice bloke' to everyone's amusement). He posed for photographs with anyone who asked for them, and talked to anyone who wanted to have a quick chat. This is a man who enjoys his fans. And it showed during the book signing, the entire time he was on stage, and the time he spent off stage after the show chatting up fans.

Last but not least, point five. This girl asked some interesting questions. And if she had let Steve answer them, I'm sure she could have asked a few more interesting ones. Then maybe we all could have had a good time at the show. But she wasn't even going to the show. She just stopped by to cut Steve down because he was not as punk anymore in her eyes. When you are passionate and stand for something, this is fantastic. But when you decide to prejudge something before you give it a chance and just show up to prove you are better than everyone else, I have to say, that's not punk, not by a long shot. That makes you a jerk. But you did show us all that Steve can handle jerks, as he easily brushed you aside when it became clear you were just arguing to be a jerk, and continued to amuse everyone with tales of being the singer for the Crass.

I suppose I should mention something about the actual concert itself. Pretty damn good. What, you want to hear more about it? Go buy a ticket and find out for yourself, you wont regret it (unless you are too Punk to enjoy yourself)!


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-Kyle Trojan Murphy-
Big Wheel Contributor - Canada



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