Revenge of the Mekons

February 21, 2016 at 9:21 pm (Uncategorized)

A bi-continental, left-wing, class of ’77, art collective with a varying line-up and numerous side projects playing punk, folk, country, blues, dub, experimental noise and more? Does that sum up the Mekons? Not even close.

The band formed in ’77 after its founders, mostly art-students in Leeds, discovered punk and took the D.I.Y. ethos seriously, over nearly forty years later, here we are.At it’s beginning the band was a couple of friends who really couldn’t play, but the old rules had been tossed aside. They wanted to, and so they did. Now, it’s true that not everyone who followed this approach had something worthwhile to say, but the Mekons clearly did. Through setbacks and hurdles, and a huge turnover in members, the band grew, leaned to play instruments, but never quite shed that optimism and joy that the early years of a band contain. This post was going to be a part of the regular monthly “Music  Notes” feature, but it clearly deserved its own post. Without sounding too much like a fan boy (I hope), the world can be divided into two groups: those who love the Mekons, and those who haven’t heard of them. It doesn’t matter which camp you are in, you should invest in a viewing of the documentary Revenge of the Mekons. I watched the film last night, and it’s an absolute joy.

The film traces the history of the band through its punk origins, through its rebirth around the time of the Miners’ strike and the discovery of folk music, to its present day incarnation (some band members live in the US, some in Britain).  The film has some incredible footage of early gigs as well as more recent shows, and generous helpings of interviews with Mekons past and present. I saw the Mekons play at Toronto’s Horseshoe Tavern approximately ten years ago. Passionate, poignant, but also a lot of fun.

At the end of the film, I was left with mixed feelings. The story of he Mekons is of course, like the left, largely a story of defeat. The footage from the Miners’ strike and of Thatcher was a reminded that awful woman and the class she served so faithfully won. In a just world, the Mekons would be household names. . However, they are not. Throughout the film, anecdotes are shared of near misses with success; but perhaps, then they wouldn’t be the Mekons, and Jon Langford’s story about U2 is hilarious. As it is, the Mekons seem to know they will never have the success they deserve, but not only do they accept it, they revel in it. Like St. Jude, the patron saint of hopeless causes, the Mekons continue, making great music along the way. Seek out this film, and then seek out the band.


1 Comment

  1. Music Notes: February 2016 | Notes from Underground said,

    […] watching the Mekons documentary Revenge of the Mekons, you’ll want to have a listen. Heaven and Hell is a good place to start. It’s a 2 disc […]

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