U.K. Subs + Janus Stark + Jonny & The Mental Breakdowns The Craufurd Arms, Milton Keynes on 14th September 2023


There’s nothing quite like the sound of a punk band in full-flight, that irresistible bounce and boisterous beats are hard to top, and certainly the best of the current bunch are Jonny & The Mental Breakdowns. If, in some parallel universe, The Fall had jammed with The Exploited then I’d imagine it’s sound a lot like this bunch. Fun loving and slightly irreverent they might be, but that in no way negates the impactful nature of their songs, and opening blast ‘Fuck The Tories’ will leave you in no doubt where their loyalties lie. With songs such as this is their arsenal they can hardly go wrong, and they soon pull a sizeable crowd in from the bar. They’re joined by the brass section from Karl Phillips & The Rejects who add a touch of spice to their final three songs and ensure things end on a high.

Taking to the stage in matching shirts, Janus Stark look like some strange Clockwork Orange gang, and with their abrasive (yet harmonious) brand of punk, they certainly sound like it, too. Tonight’s set is culled totally from their 1998 album, Great Adventure Cigar and this means that things flow exceptionally smoothly. Opener ‘Enemy Lines’, when combined with ‘Panic Attack’, makes for the perfect one-two punch, and then Janus Stark are up and running, and there’s no looking back. Since their reformation several years ago, it has been full-steam ahead, and that’s very much the case with tonight’s show as the band blast through a solid set that culminates in ‘Barriers’ which, in the best punk tradition, they proceed to kick down.

If ever a gig could be described as “bittersweet”, then surely it is tonight. It’s always exciting when the U.K. Subs come to town and I don’t think they’ve ever turned in a duff performance in 45+ years. However, this tour is billed as the band’s last, and as we near their last five dates at London’s legendary 100 Club, there’s an air of finality hanging heavy. Of course, this isn’t the end and the band will still play festival dates, yet this could be the last chance to get up close and personal in a sweaty club. Yet, as the band appear in typically understated fashion and launch into ‘Scum Of The Earth’ all such thoughts are forgotten (at least temporarily) as cheers are yelled and fists punch the air. The band appear to be on top form and operating like a well-oiled machine, which makes their decision to cease touring all the more strange. But there is an argument for going out while at the top of your game, and on the strength of tonight’s performance no one is going to remember the Subs as a bloated corpse, rather the memories generated tonight are of a band who are on fire and taking the stage by storm.

What follows is a “greatest hits” set that touches on all points of the band’s career with the likes of ‘Down On The Farm’ (sit down Guns N’ Roses) and ‘Warhead’ getting massive cheers, the latter in particular causes a huge sing-along. I first saw the Subs back in 1990 (I believe it was) at Banbury United Football Club, and I’m pleased to report that Charlie Harper has lost none of his veracity and, powered by copious amounts of alcohol, continues to lead the charge. There’s a tinge of sadness as the set reaches a conclusion, but when the songs are this good, we can’t have too many qualms. Two sets of encores please the fans, before the U.K. Subs disappear into the night, but they’ve left behind one hell of a legacy.

U.K. Subs Set List:

  1. Scum Of The Earth
  2. Rockers
  3. New York State Police
  4. Barbie’s Dead
  5. Emotional Blackmail
  6. Kicks
  7. Fragile
  8. Kill Me
  9. Limo Life
  10. Time And Matter
  11. Down On The Farm
  12. Tomorrow’s Girls
  13. Warhead
  14. Riot
  15. Stranglehold
  16. Disease


  1. C.I.D.
  2. I Live In A Car
  3. I Couldn’t Be You
  4. Party In Paris


  1. Squat 96
  2. Keep On Running (Til You Burn)
  3. Teenage