Last night, UK street punk legends Cock Sparrer played their first New York City show in fifteen years at The Warsaw in Greenpoint, Brooklyn to a sold out capacity crowd. To say that the band was welcomed with open arms would be an understatement but before they took the stage, there were the two opening acts.
First up were 45 Adapters, a local Brooklyn band made up of “five friends who dress well and drink heavily.” They play a pretty straight forward brand of street punk/oi! music with some reggae and ska influences worked into the mix and they do it really damn well. They wear their influences on their sleeves but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. They played catchy sing-along style punk with a load of energy and they did a very fine job of warming everyone up for the main event. These guys are definitely worth checking out, can’t wait to see them again.
Queens’ Murphy’s Law were up next. Loveably loudmouthed frontman and NYHC mainstay Jimmy Gestapo seemed more enamored with the fact that the band were actually on stage opening for Cock Sparrer than with anything else but that didn’t stop them from delivering a great set. Murphy’s Law always delivers live and last night was no exception. After their set Jimmy was just sort of hanging around the venue, climbing on tables in the merch/pierogi room (the Warsaw serves polish food during shows) and handing out random hugs to people. Good stuff! But it’s on stage where the guy really shines and you could tell he was just as stoked as anyone else there for the headliners. They closed the set with a typically awesome version of Someone’s Gonna Get Their Head Kicked In that pretty much brought the roof down and that fancily dressed black gentleman who has been playing saxophone with them for years now is worth his weight in gold.
Cock Sparrer took the stage about 10:30pm and the moment they did, the place basically went off. Beers were flying, bodies were flying and the band tore through what was essentially a greatest hits set that lasted until just before midnight. One of the more interesting things about Cock Sparrer is that when they recorded so much of what is now considered their classic material they were woefully underappreciated. As they’ve gotten older the influence that their music would have is obvious in a lot of the bands that came in their wake. These guys aren’t young anymore, but they have obviously got a huge appreciation for the people that come out to see them and that keep them going and that really came through in the performance last night. They played pretty much every classic Cock Sparrer anthem you’d expect – Working, Riot Squad, I Got Your Number, Argy Bargy, Runnin’ Riot, Take’em All, Get A Rope, What’s It Like To Be Old, Teenage Heart, Tough Guys, A.U., and a few other classics.
What really stands out about the whole night, in hindsight, is the energy that filled the room. The music was obviously a huge part of it but EVERYONE there was there to have a good time. The camaraderie that makes a show like this so much fun was exemplified when Cock Sparrer played Where Are They Now. Frontman Colin McFaull really just held the mic out and let the audience sing the first verse and chorus without the band and it was all done with such spirit and conviction that, yeah, more than one person in attendance was getting a little choked up by it. This is a band that played their hearts out, they put in 100% and they got it all back from the crowd. The Warsaw can sometimes be a weird spot for punk shows as security there doesn’t mess around and they will boot you as fast as they can boot you if you try to stage dive or get too out of hand but bouncers did their jobs and it never felt like they were coming down on anyone in the crowd like they did at the Black Flag show awhile back. At any rate, the main set finished up with an amazing version of their iconic England Belongs To Me, but you knew they were coming out for an encore. And they did, finishing the night proper, appropriately enough, with We’re Coming Back, which they are… tonight. Hopefully it won’t take them a decade and a half to come back to New York City again, but if it does, they’re worth the wait. It was one of those rare nights where