Cock Sparrer Live at Hellfest

CockSparrer_CackBlabbath_IainHawkins 10One of the more unexpected additions to the Hellfest bill was certainly London punks Cock Sparrer. Never the biggest of names, even in their homeland, it was something of a surprise to see them announced for the Warzone stage in 2015… and even more of a surprise to see they were headlining the Friday night.

CockSparrer_CackBlabbath_IainHawkins 4Cock Sparrer’s impact on the whole punk and hardcore scene is undeniable, but although people may know the songs from the myriad of cover versions that the bands they influenced have recorded I did wonder how much of a following the Londoners would draw in Clisson.

Well, judging by the throng packed down the barrier as their stage time approached, the answer to that was “a big one”.

Cock Sparrer bounded onto stage with a bounce and energy that belies their 43 years as a band. For all the pop-punk, crossover-punk and hardcore-punk that was on offer over the weekend, this was the genre in its purist form… good old Punk Rock.

I doubt there was a band over the three days that had as much fun on stage as Cock Sparrer, I don’t know if they had any expectations of the reception they would recieve, but right from the off they had the whole Warzone bouncing. As straightforward and stripped back as it can get, Cock Sparrer have stuck to their guns for 4 decades and at Hellfest they received a welcome befitting their legendary status.

CockSparrer_CackBlabbath_IainHawkins 12Like their UK compatriots The Exploited, Cock Sparrer’s punk anthems are infused with the spirit of the time and place they were written. This may be 2015 France but Colin McFaull stripped that away and transported us back to a smoky club in the east end’s gangland in in the 70’s.

The setlist was, unsurprisingly, packed with angsty punk classics. Argy Bargy, England Belongs To Me, Because You’re Young and a whole load more delivered with a minimum of fuss, with the crowd singing along to every word.

This isn’t the sort of band who would be given this opportunity at any of the big festivals in the UK, and as the sun went down behind Hellfest’s big wheel it just reinforces what makes this festival so special, they put on the best bands regardless of what may be in vogue at the time. It’s been a long time coming for Cock Sparrer but it’s a level of recognition they deserve and given some of the bands on the bill it’s one of the few places that Colin McFaull can claim that they’re “one of the youngest bands here”.

It was a set so full of classics that it’s almost impossible to pick a highlight, I guess Running Riot would be the obvious choice but in all honesty it was killer from the first note to the last. It was one of those sets that you just couldn’t tear yourself away from.

I never thought I’d have Cock Sparrer down as the highlight of Day 1, but life is full of surprises… the Londoners were f’kin brilliant.