In 2007 Steve ignorant gathered some friends together and put on two shows at Shepherd’s Bush Empire in London called The Feeding of the 5000. The shows were a celebration of the Crass album of the same name, which was performed in its entirety, and were meant to be a one-off. Here he tells us more in his own words..
What I didn’t expect was the amount of interest from around the world in response to it; the desire of people of all ages and all nationalities to see and hear those songs performed live one last time.
Me being me (an obstinate little cowson my mum used to say) I said no, I’d done the Feeding thing and that was it as far as I was concerned, if I did anything again it’d be crass (all puns intended) and I didn’t want to look like a Pistol whipping a Sham dead horse.
And then something happened that helped me to decide to put together this up and coming tour. I say ‘helped’, because I’m not making any excuses or trying to shift any shred of responsibility on my part. Of course I’d been thinking about how to do a final fling, but it would have to be done with professionalism, dignity and sincerity if it wasn’t going to look like I was just cashing in on the London thing. Just a fortnight after the ‘Feeding’ shows I’d been getting offers from the USA and Europe, but it just didn’t seem right to go and churn out that performance over and over, because Shepherd’s Bush was absolutely unique and can never be repeated, as anyone who was there will tell you.
So what happened?
Early last year a row erupted between the Crass members about re-releasing Crass’ albums in a new format, which would hopefully create new interest in the material which had slowly but surely been moving less and less. Without going into detail, the row evolved into a bitter, spiteful war of words which led to a stalemate of no new release going ahead and no Crass albums being repressed.
So far so bad.
Slowly it dawned on me that it was all a load of bollocks, that it comes down to a matter of opinion, that you have to compromise in some way, and that fuck it this ain’t what Crass or the songs or the people in Crass were about. No-one gives a monkey’s about the personal differences between the members of Crass; those songs, those words changed peoples’ lives including mine and I’m not about to start remembering those songs and words in a negative way, I’m gonna remember them as the brutal, lovely things they were, and balls to it, I’d celebrate not stagnate or negate them… and give whoever wants to come along the opportunity to celebrate with me. And to let everyone know this is the last time I’ll do it I’ve called it The Last Supper. It’s taken over a year and a half with the fantastic help of various people to get this together, and as you know I’ve been on facebook and that, getting feedback from you lot, so you’ve all helped too.
Now for the ironic bit.
A couple of weeks ago the landlady of the pub I work in now and again had a birthday do, and she’d hired this bloke with a guitar and keyboards, you know the sort of thing, he performed songs from the 60’s and Queen and Abba and stuff. And I just come back from the gents and there he was playing Tubthumping from the Chumbas, everyone in the pub was singing along and I just thought how funny it was, because once upon a time punks weren’t allowed in pubs for the discerning diner.
Cash or Crucifixion, they get you in the end.
Two days later I get a phone call telling me that an ex-member of Crass – I’m not gonna mention names, right – is attempting to get an injunction against Southern Studios in regard to any new releases, and it’s now in the hands of the High Courts of Justice.
And there I was a couple of hours later, up to my elbows in other peoples’ leftovers in the pub kitchen in a daze, thinking, how ironic, the great anti-establishment, all-in- black, two’s up to the straight world, intergalactic anarchists Crass unable to sort out a problem (and let’s have it right here, we’re talking about the look and sound of bloody records for fucks sake) without running to the apron strings of mummy System.
Laugh? I nearly sang Owe Us A Living.
Cash or Crucifixion, they get you in the end. Anyway, fuck ‘em, The Last Supper will be served. The band is sorted, it’s the band I used in Durham but without Steve Whale, he’s got other commitments. So it’s Spike T. Smith on drums, Gizz Butt on lead guitar, Bob Butler on bass and Beki Straughan on vocals, and me of course. The set is going to range from Feeding up to Christ the Album, taking in Penis Envy and Stations. All the favourites will be in there, Roxy and that, but if any of you have got any particular songs you’d like to hear live for the last time, let us know. Or even a set list of what you’d like, but remember – I’m not that handsome spotty little oik no more, I’m a middle aged, bald, beer drinking fag smoking machine gun who grunts when he leans over to pick something up. And anyway I shouldn’t be surprised if there’s an injunction taken out against me for using certain songs. But look on the bright side – if it does all end up in court we can all have a nice day out in London, and let’s face it: there’d be a double album in there somewhere.
See you in the dock.
PS Who was it wrote ‘Punk’s the Peoples’ music?