REVIEW OF THE WASPS AT REBELLION FESTIVAL, UK, 2023
by Mark Kelly, Brighton & Hove News. Photos, Mark Kelly
.... I remain in the Opera House for The Wasps, possibly best known for their track ‘Can’t Wait Till ‘78’. The original band split up in 1979, and original vocalist Jesse Lynn-Dean resurrected the band with a new line-up last year when they released a new album called ‘Punk Prayer’. The band is now based on the Costa Del Sol. In 2003 an album called ‘Punkryonics’ was released comprising tracks recorded by the original line-up between 1977 and 1979. They don’t appear to have actually released an album during this time, although this could be because of the management problems which led to their demise in 1979.
So, what are they like today? Jesse is wearing a top emblazoned with the slogan “Angry, Young and Poor”. Well, he may still be angry and poor, but unfortunately the ‘young’ ship sailed some time ago. However, youth is arguably a state of mind, and I think Jesse definitely qualifies from that point of view. He’s definitely still angry though. One of the songs mentions The MC5, who were definitely very angry back in the day. The band are tight and powerful, providing the perfect vehicle to enable Jesse to express his anger.
Several of the older songs get an outing tonight, including ‘J-J-J-Jenny’, ‘Run Run Angelica’, and ‘Evil Man’. It should be noted that the new songs are every bit as good as the old ones though. A particular standout is ‘Radio’, about an Army veteran who’s done two tours of Iraq and one tour of Afghanistan, and how his radio is the only thing that keeps him relatively sane. ‘It Don’t Matter To Me’ is another newer song about finding your partner in bed with your best friend, whilst ‘She Don’t Love You’ (which doesn’t appear to have been released) is apparently about Jesse’s mum.
Can’t Wait Till ‘78’ is the penultimate song in the set, which concludes with a cover of The Velvet Underground’s ‘I’m Waiting For The Man’, which Jesse says he “re-wrote for Lou Reed, and if he was here he’d be f*cking furious”. Actually it’s not radically different. It’s much faster, and has a spoken word interlude. Most importantly though, it rocks! This looks very much like a rebirth for The Wasps, and hopefully we’ll see them gigging in the UK again soon!
The Wasps setlist: ‘He’s Back’ ‘It Don’t Matter To Me’ ‘She Made Magic’ ‘JJJJenny’ ‘Free Country’ ‘Run Run Angelica’ ‘Lies’ ‘Teenage Treats’ ‘Can’t Wait Till ’78’ ‘I’m Waiting For The Man’ (The Velvet Underground cover)