Dub Pistols Take Over The Phoenix

by Sam Watson

Exeter Phoenix

Dub Pistols have been on tour for twenty-nine years. You could certainly tell as they took the Exeter Phoenix to a new level.

Barry Ashworth, the Pistols’ frontman, said to me prior to the show that I should be ready for a party. I wasn’t disappointed. In support of their album, Return Of The Pistolerios, the set was filled with back-catalogue tracks, mixed in with a few new ones here and there.

Support came in the form of Jamie Jones, who started his set with a total of five people in the auditorium, two of which were doing the sound. Yet by the end, the place was very full. He is mainly known for his cover of Ed Sheeran’s Thinking Out Loud , which was one of the few songs the crowd recognised, yet they were evidently into his set nonetheless. His sound was a lot more upbeat than on his YouTube channel and this was rewarded with the audience dancing around to his music. Jones has a very strong voice and his material is very good live. If he learns a bit of showmanship from Dub Pistols, then he will be a very good, all-round musician.

After a half an hour break, all of which was spent queuing at the bar (the Phoenix seriously need to sort this out as the service was terrible), Dub Pistols took to the stage. Dressed in suits, sunglasses, and sombreros, they opened with Alive, which got the crowd moving right from the beginning. They quickly followed up with other hits including She Moves, which fitted well with the Mexican theme. We were treated to a new song, which was only the second time they had played it live according to Ashworth – this didn’t make a difference to the crowd as they were dancing along like they had heard it all before. About halfway through their set, the Pistols played Cyclone, one of their better known tracks as it was featured on Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2 game. The audience went a bit crazy for this one.

Barry Ashworth has been on the road pretty much nonstop for twenty-nine years; it’s a rare week that doesn’t see him performing live or DJing at least once, but you wouldn’t be able to tell. The man, who kept sunglasses on for the entire night, has so much energy and it transfers itself to the crowd. The average age in the Phoenix was about 30, coming from two very distinct groups: Dads and teenagers. It was initially odd, but somehow worked.

Ganja (the song) went down well with the mixed crowd (though based on the smell on the terrace, I have a feeling that although there were two very distinct groups in the audience, they both have at least one shared interest). After this, the Pistols played Mucky Weekend, my highlight of the night. The audience pulled out their highest jumps and biggest head bobs for this song as it is an absolute classic. Dub Pistols also played one of my favourite covers of all time; their version of Peaches (originally by The Stranglers). The tracks they played have a lot more rap and energy injected into them than the recorded versions, and this made for an incredible live experience.

Dub Pistols are one of the best live bands on the circuit, sticking to their roots, yet still making fresh music. They are evidently very passionate about what they are doing, and I’m glad the mainstream hasn’t projected them to as big as they should be so they stick to the smaller venues, making for a better live show. They have a bunch of very committed fans (Dub Pistol T shirts were worn by about half of the audience – a lot more than most bands) and they keep making great music for them.