Mensi – Live

From the NME, 17 March, 1984.

Spartacus R

Leeds Bierkeller

In which amply strapping rock’n’roll vocalist Thomas Mensford is revealed as a sensitive soul. The brick shit-house-built bellower of three-chord, two-syllable prole political declamations is backed tonight not by the usual leathery yobs but one fresh-faced youth with a large and rather battered acoustic guitar. He approaches this first gig venture into the virgin territory of semi-solo performance as nervous as a lamb on the slab, eyes constantly flicking to the sides searching for the safety of his absent fellow Upstarts to share our scrutiny and examination.
Face pink with passion he reeled off a series of heartfelt anthems including the powerful anti-scab ‘Heath’s Lament’. Mensi is an optimist seeing even in the current climate of Working Class retreat the beauty of the human spirit that stands up and fights.
The proverbial Fly-in-the Ointment comes in the shape of our friend the fourth Generation dickhead punk who insisted on idiot-dancing and shouting along to even the most intense of his hero’s poems.
“Someone get that fucker in a band ferchrissakes!” snarled the stocky one glaring at the bopping fool whose mohican visibly wilted under the awesome scorn.
Mensi consistently rubbed salt into the sores that matter, especially when in a rendition of the classic Irish rebel rant ‘The Green Fields Of France’ he tossed aside the stinking Red, White and Blue hide of ‘Patriotic Socialism’ (Kinnock stylee!). From the man who once sank knee deep in the Bushellshite swamp of ‘The Falklands Spirit’ this was indeed stunning stuff.
Explosive tendrils of rigid dreadlock and a natty line in slashed to rags sartorial inelegance, ex-Osibisa bassist Spartacus R resembled nothing if not an electric chair escapee who has still managed to retain his sense of humour. He doesn’t strain his one-man set unduly with too much in-depth political analysis but smacks the despicable Reagan and Maggot soundly with some nicely-aimed haymakers. All in all he was hard, fast, just a little crude and went on for hours. THAT’s how I like ’em!

Susan Williams



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