This sent me back to my youth, The Exploited have been around for that long!We were lucky to see this act back in Australia after their 2020 shows were COVID cancelled, and to see them in a small, local pub setting was all the better.
The music is not for all tastes (in fact it's probably only for two tastes – punk and thrash), but to keep doing these shows around the globe in the same format for 40-plus years, shows the dedication these guys have made to the punk music scene.
As background, The Exploited rose to prominence in the very late '70s, with founding member, lead singer Wattie Buchan's brother Terry, hailing from Edinburgh, Scotland.
Wattie – now well into his 60s – took his brother's place as lead singer around 1980, before they released their first album 'Punks Not Dead' in 1981. It is from this album that their best-known song, 'Sex & Violence', is taken, coming hot on the heels of the Pistols, and side by side with other UK punk bands such as The Clash.
The Exploited have influenced a range of bands, key amongst which are Metallica and Nirvana. More surprising are the influences Wattie attributes to his music: James Brown, and the first four albums by The Cure (and who could not like those!).
His rationale for loving James Brown, and a handful of others, is giving 100 per cent to their performances – the guys certainly did this at the Cooly Hotel.
The Coolangatta Hotel show (15 November) kicked of with a set from three-piece punk band The Scam, based out of Queensland and playing the punk scene for over ten years.
Hailing from the Gold Coast, this is effectively the boys' home show and obviously they are huge fans of The Exploited. Their genre is punk-thrash, and there is a clear influence from, and respect for, The Exploited.
The Scam - image © Bill Prendergast
Lyrics can be hard to ascertain in this style of music, although a message of protest comes through loud and clear. Their second song was sung in Greek, which went down well, and shortly after we were treated to some incredible movement and singing by band member spouse, Lauren.
Both guitarist Con, and bassist Dinny took the lead in vocals at different points, culminating in a cover of an Anti-Nowhere League song, 'Pig Iron'. Drummer Jerry had a great beat throughout, and kept the unit very tight.
Overall these guys were great, and were passionate supporters of The Exploited through the later act.
Following this short, sharp set, Wattie and The Exploited members came onstage, staying for over an hour covering their short, sharp anthems.
The Exploited - image © Bill Prendergast
Musically my preference sits with their earlier, simpler punk-influenced (more correctly, punk-influencing) work, than that of the later '80s onwards, when the music took on much more of a thrash style, much faster with more intricate guitar work.
'U.S.A.' was a highlight and had the crowd singing in chorus, while 'Beat The Bastards' was obviously a massive hit on the night.
Irish Rob's driving bass led them through 'F... The System' and 'Troops Of Tomorrow', and the evening culminated in The Scam joining The Exploited onstage, along with some partners, to perform 'Sex & Violence'.
Obviously it was the song – off the first album – that the crowd wanted to hear, and the extended version went down well with the well-versed crowd. However there was one more song to follow, and it is my favourite. 'Was It Me' was a fantastic way to round out a great night.
The Exploited and The Scam members - image © Bill Prendergast
Thankfully the crowd included new and old fans, many showing a long-term dedication to the band, with a handful of mohawks being a great sight.
I was a little disappointed – and I think the crowd was – that COVID and other factors have prevented random stage access and crowd dives for fans, which has been so much of a feature of Exploited concerts over the 40 years, but I guess that reflects changing times.
Early this week, it had looked as though this concert may not go ahead, as Wattie was hospitalised with heart issues after the Adelaide show. This follows an onstage heart attack late last year in Bogota, Colombia.
All this after a quadruple bypass almost a decade ago, following similar issues in Portugal. The band had to cancel a recent tour of the US, again with serious health issues again being raised.
The Exploited - image © Bill Prendergast
The two words that are often used to describe The Exploited are obnoxious and aggressive. I think both remain completely apt, despite 66-year-old Wattie's health scares. May he stay strong, and may they keep touring and entertaining for years to come.
One other potential future issue is his regular banging of the mic on his skull as his soundcheck! Touring through these issues, and playing regularly at this level is incredible and again shows that clearly. . . Punk's not dead!
- written by Bill Prendergast
More photos from the show.