Spare Rib, number 86, September, 1979, reviews the first large gig for Rock Against Sexism.
Spoilsports, Delta Five and the Gang of Four played at Rock Against Sexism’s first big gig at London’s Electric Ballroom at the end of July. Punks were out in force for Gang of Four, an all-boy band from Leeds who’d approached RAS about doing the gig – “RAS is close to our hearts really cos a lot of our songs criticise the way love and romance are put across in songs”. Not only their lyrics are critical, but their sound, their stance – anti-romantic, tense, frenetic. I don’t think that driving energy has to be macho; it’s not like Mick Jagger’s undulating cockrock. The music is minimal, honed down with no messing around the edges.
From Delta Five the punky delivery is even more interesting as the singers are women. Their eyes stare, they don’t caress the audience. Their voices are unyielding – they yelp, leap, chant, then exploit the higher parts only women can reach. I also liked the way the members of the band swapped guitars and changed parts, though I couldn’t make out why one of the men kept prowling round the stage – feeling left out? The Gang of Four by contrast used the stage like a squash court, speeding from side to side.
But the big contrast of the night was between them and Spoilsports, six women playing funky music with a sax and full percussion – congas, tambourine. it’s an interesting idea to mix styles of music, but for me their slower, more laid-back sound jarred after the first two bands. A lof of the feminists who’d much prefer Spoilsports’ kind of music wouldn’t choose to go to a mixed event, and a lot of the punk supporters started drifting homewards, missing out on the jamboree jam at the the end – all three bands with Tom Robinson in the background and a Mekon or two. The gig cleared £500, split five ways between the bands, RAS and the National Abortion Campaign. Another big benefit for NAC is planned for the night before the TUC’s abortion demo – October 27. For details contact RAS, 121 Grandison Rd, London SW11 (01-272 7866)