The Plague, 1979

Gary Steel intended to climb into the crumbling catacombs of his back catalogue, and disinter a different story Every Day In May (EDIM), but he got the flu. So he’s extending the concept until he makes up the full 31 days. Today’s review appeared in Rip It Up in October 1979.


Note: Ouch. Clearly, I was reading lots of Burchill and Parsons and those other smart-arse NME writers at the time. Too much. But I was only a kid. Forgive me. Maybe if I had only bothered to mention who was in the band… Richard von Sturmer, Don McGlashan, Tim Mahon, Mark Bell, Ian Gilroy, Andrew Snoid…


Nambassa_1979_The_Plague_on_the_Main_StageThe Plague, The Last Resort, Sept 23 1979

PLAGUING WELLINGTON’S GAMMY boots this restful Sunday eve we have an Auckland six-piece of sorts – drums (tiny kit), bass/vocals, guitar/vocals, vocals/organ – plus, two lovely ladies richly endowed with facial mock-up, adding immensely to proceedings theatrical-wise and, my god with vocalese attributes such as would… entirely devastate tonite’s programme, if it were not for the sparsity of their contributions.

The Plague are different. They do play uncompromisingly ‘original’ material, and some of it’s quite interesting too. ‘Fwank Gill (Idiot’), ‘Officialdom’, ‘Businessman’, and a whole hoard of others amply illustrate the band’s social conscience if hardly making The Statement.

Elsewhere, we have choons about Auckland (called ‘Auckland’, naturellement), necrophiliacs, TV, violence, audience/band relationships, cancer and other pleasant (read provocative) topics.

Provoke the Plague do. Their brand of nihilism either turns you on or forces a hasty withdrawal on the part of the listener/viewer. (The show is musical/visual, although the theatrics are often only forced token gestures).

It’s negative, depressing. The music is (top)-heavy-(going), complex, minimal, thick wedges of sound. Indescribable.

We are warned “don’t compromise” as the troupe depart stage left, but like stars they return for three encores. They hit every pothole they purport to avoid – too much like fashion.

You’ll probably love ‘em, or like me, hate ‘em. I’m still glad I saw ‘em, you may be too. GARY STEEL

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