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Punk's not dead at Stone Valley South festival





There is something ludicrous but very life-affirming about standing in a field with other 50-somethings and singing "If the kids are united, they will never be divided".

More than four decades ago, when Jimmy Pursey's Sham 69 released their punk rock anthem in 1979, the angry teenagers it spoke to imagined they would stay young forever.

But age creeps up behind you until one day, you look in the mirror and realise with a shock that you too are old.

Bob Geldof, The Boomtown Rats (50265693)
Bob Geldof, The Boomtown Rats (50265693)

So what do you do? Put on your carpet slippers – or dust off your pork pie hat, sing in the sun and dance like nobody is watching?

Stone Valley South festival at the weekend was a chance to relive lost youth and remember that some songs stay fresh and their messages cross generations.

In Sham 69's debut single, released in 1977 when Britain was in the grip of industrial unrest and unemployment, he sang: "I don't wanna work to 65, And I don't want no gold watch, And I don't want no pension book."

Sham 69 (50265715)
Sham 69 (50265715)

Pursey is now 66, still performing and still has something to say about social issues, rewriting the lyrics to make a political point for today: "I don't wanna be a refugee, I don't wanna die in the sea".

He wasn't the only performer to make a dig at the Government. The Skids lead singer and songwriter Richard Jobson tweaked the lyrics of TV Stars and sneaked in a reference to Boris Johnson.

The Scottish post-punk pioneers also played Kings of the New World Order in an energetic set where Jobson, now with a second career as a film-maker and TV presenter, showcased his dad-dancing skills and some pithy repartee.

But the main message of all the bands was how glad they were to be back on stage, entertaining after an 18-month lay-off.

Richard Jobson, Skids (50264980)
Richard Jobson, Skids (50264980)

The crowd was appreciative of their efforts and the sun smiled on their endeavours – all three days of the third event at Pepper Hill Farm, Great Amwell, had pretty perfect festival weather.

For those who aren't familiar with the brand, which began in County Durham and is getting ready for its eighth northern outing at Stanhope in September, the Stone Valley franchise features mod, ska, indie, punk, northern soul, soul and 60s music with the odd foray into the 90s – as evidenced by The Farm and the Happy Mondays on Friday and Sunday respectively.

With camping options or day tickets, the focus is on value for money and a family-friendly ethos with a warm welcome for four-legged guests too (and a wheelchair-bound great Dane).

Neville Staple Band (50265713)
Neville Staple Band (50265713)

While many guests are of a certain vintage, children are welcome, and there were plenty of young people embracing the mod and ska aesthetic and the chance to hear original artists reprising their greatest hits.

While the ravages of time were plain to see on stage – Jimmy Pursey looked like he'd climbed out of a skip, Boomtown Rats lead singer Sir Bob Geldof now looks like Mick Jagger's dad and Bad Manners hefty frontman Buster Bloodvessel is half the size he was – close your eyes and the sounds transport you back in time.

Buster Bloodvessel, Bad Manners (50265038)
Buster Bloodvessel, Bad Manners (50265038)

The same could almost be said of The Undertones, with Paul McLoone and his wiggle doing a sterling job of substituting for original singer Feargal Sharkey, and Russell Hastings, who takes Paul Weller's role alongside Bruce Foxton in From The Jam.

New music was represented by Two Tone-inspired Death of Guitar Pop and standout act The Dualers.

Frontman and founding member Tyber Cranstoun, who started his career busking on the streets of Romford, gave the appreciative crowd a masterclass in ska and reggae music.

The Dualers (50265032)
The Dualers (50265032)

Along with From the Jam, the Original Rude Boy Neville Staple and The Selecter – with the impeccable Pauline Black looking and sounding as good as ever – the Dualers are Stone Valley royalty.

All four were on my must-see set list and they did not disappoint, but as ever, it's the unexpected blasts from the past who surprise you by shaking the cobwebs off your musical memories that make this festival such great fun. I can't wait for next year.

Russell Hastings, From The Jam (50265703)
Russell Hastings, From The Jam (50265703)
Bruce Foxton, From The Jam (50265705)
Bruce Foxton, From The Jam (50265705)
Bruce Foxton, From The Jam (50265701)
Bruce Foxton, From The Jam (50265701)
Bob Geldof, The Boomtown Rats (50265691)
Bob Geldof, The Boomtown Rats (50265691)
Death of Guitar Pop (50265695)
Death of Guitar Pop (50265695)
Death of Guitar Pop (50265697)
Death of Guitar Pop (50265697)
The Undertones (50265699)
The Undertones (50265699)
The Undertones (50265725)
The Undertones (50265725)
The Undertones (50265734)
The Undertones (50265734)
Richard Jobson, Skids (50264976)
Richard Jobson, Skids (50264976)
Richard Jobson, Skids (50264985)
Richard Jobson, Skids (50264985)
Pauline Black, The Selecter (50265046)
Pauline Black, The Selecter (50265046)
The Selecter (50265050)
The Selecter (50265050)
Pauline Black, The Selecter (50265052)
Pauline Black, The Selecter (50265052)
The Selecter (50265074)
The Selecter (50265074)
The Dualers (50265017)
The Dualers (50265017)
The Dualers (50265019)
The Dualers (50265019)
Buster Bloodvessel, Bad Manners (50265043)
Buster Bloodvessel, Bad Manners (50265043)
Stone Valley South festival (50263959)
Stone Valley South festival (50263959)
Stone Valley South festival (50263965)
Stone Valley South festival (50263965)
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Stone Valley South festival (50264008)
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Stone Valley South festival (50264020)
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Stone Valley South festival (50264051)
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Stone Valley South festival (50264069)
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Stone Valley South festival (50264090)
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Stone Valley South festival (50264092)
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Stone Valley South festival (50264098)
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Stone Valley South festival (50264100)
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Stone Valley South festival (50264195)
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Stone Valley South festival (50264208)
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Stone Valley South festival (50264212)
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Stone Valley South festival (50264217)
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Stone Valley South festival (50264234)
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Stone Valley South festival (50264236)
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Stone Valley South festival (50264240)
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Stone Valley South festival (50264287)
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Stone Valley South festival (50264307)
Stone Valley South festival (50264374)
Stone Valley South festival (50264374)


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