Vardis – 100 M.P.H. @ 100 Club


Formed in Wakefield, West Yorkshire in 1977 Vardis had a sound that was hardened in some of the toughest clubs and pubs. This menacing live environment was where they honed their craft, so it was no surprise that their debut album was the aptly titled live offering 100 M.P.H. To celebrate that record’s 40th anniversary Vardis convened in London on 13th March 2020 and the resulting record, 100 M.P.H. @ 100 Club, is much more than a rearrangement of the original. For sure it celebrates the past, yet it evidences a band who’re still hungry and signposts a bright future.

100 M.P.H. @ 100 Club contains all the tracks which appeared on the original album (albeit in a different running order) interspersed with other classic tunes and I’m pleased to report that time has done little to dilute Vardis’ effervescence and if you need proof just listen to opener ‘Out Of The Way’. It’s perhaps the ultimate distillation of the NWOBHM and marries metal musicianship to punk energy and the result is a musical explosion that reverberates throughout this double album. With barely a pause of breath ‘Steamin’ Along’ does exactly what it says on the tin and goes straight for the jugular. Steve Zodiac’s guitar kicks over like a Triumph Bonneville and if you close your eyes, you can almost see his amplifier smouldering.

As with 100 M.P.H. this album comes with a disclaimer of sorts: “Guaranteed No Overdubs” and 100 M.P.H @ 100 Club is a warts n’ all live experience but to be truthful there’s very few warts on display as Vardis unleash rock banger after rock banger. Imagine Status Quo on amphetamine and you’ll have something approaching the terminal velocity of ‘Situation Negative (Boogie Blitz)’ and ballsy rock n’ roll doesn’t get much better (or brasher) than this. However, Vardis are seasoned enough to add a touch of variety; they’re not (as the title suggests) all out thrash and a punchy mid-section offers a breather of sorts before the collective foot is returned firmly to the floor. But ballsy rock n’ roll is what they do best, and they don’t come better (or brasher) than the high octane ‘Dirty Money’.

I’m a big fan of trios in heavy metal, whether it be Budgie or Motörhead, as it brings every instrument to the fore and Vardis are well equipped to stand amongst such illustrious company and they sound much bigger than their constituent parts. Drummer Joe Clancy proves himself a beast behind the kit, especially on the introduction to ‘Mods & Rockers’ while Roly Bailey’s bass replicates that whole live experience by thumping you right in the chest. While 100 M.P.H. was recorded at three different venues this release benefits from being captured at single, two-hour set, and it sounds like the sparks were certainly flying at the legendary 100 Club. ‘If I Were King’ makes for a volatile closer but, of course, the band return for a well-deserved encore and ‘Living Out Of Touch’, with a nod and wink to Chuck Berry, brings down the curtain in style.

With two incendiary live albums bookending their career 100 M.P.H @ 100 Club could be construed as a conclusion to a lengthy career, but the music inside dispels any such notions. Vital and vitriolic it marks Vardis as totally contemporary. Here’s to the next 40 years!

Track Listing:

CD One:

  1. Out Of The Way
  2. Steamin’ Along
  3. Paranoia Strikes
  4. Situation Negative (Boogie Blitz)
  5. Red Eye
  6. Dirty Money
  7. Mods & Rockers
  8. Don’t Mess
  9. Shoot Straight
  10. Move Along

CD Two:

  1. Destiny
  2. The Lion’s Share
  3. Radio Rockers
  4. The Loser
  5. Head Of The Nail
  6. Jolly Roger
  7. Let’s Go Again
  8. 100mph (I Won’t Go To Hell)
  9. If I Were King
  10. Living Out Of Touch