LIVE REVIEW: The Chats, Chubby and the Gang, Dennis Cometti @ Boiler Shop, Newcastle (25.03.22) | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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When The Chats first exploded onto the scene a couple of years ago in an eruption of smoke break apathy and ginger mullets, it wasn’t immediately clear how long they’d be sticking around for.

Viral success can be a fickle beast, and there’s often a fine, fine line between overnight sensation and one-hit wonder.

Since the unavoidable, irresistible snottiness of all-conquering breakout single Smoko however, the keen-eyed clown princes of shed rock have released a stellar debut album, survived the rigours of a line-up change, and have subsequently come hurtling out the other side of a global pandemic with the bit wedged firmly between their crooked teeth and a definite answer for anybody who sees them demolish Boiler Shop on this Friday evening – The Chats aren’t going anywhere.

First up though, compatriots Dennis Cometti provide a fitting spark for tonight’s touchpaper. Cut from a similarly disorderly cloth to their fellow Aussies, their frantic, wryly-observed musings are a toothsome appetiser, and deservedly well-received.

The same can be said of Chubby and the Gang. Still in their relative infancy as a band, but veterans of London’s hardcore punk scene as individuals in their own right, they roll through Boiler Shop like a bullet train in brass knuckles. They are furious, lethal, and you would fancy, unstoppable. Frontman Charlie Manning-Walker – the eponymous Chubby – is a particularly bewitching presence on stage, and finally answers the age old question as to what might happen if you put Stig of the Dump in a particle accelerator. It’s rare for a singer to exude such charisma so effortlessly, and rarer still to see one who can do it all while swigging from a bottle of Merlot and busting out the occasional harmonica solo.

And that brings us to The Chats. Is this the best live set your humble reviewer has ever seen? Honestly, not to be hyperbolic, it’s up there. At the very least, it has to be the most gloriously, unapologetically relentless. From the moment the Queensland trio strut out to the pounding thrum of Robbie Williams’ Rock DJ – accompanied by a life-sized cardboard cutout of the man himself, no less – it’s apparent that the Chats have chaos in mind.

Over the course of 40 minutes or so, the three-piece rattle through pretty much their entire discography at the kind of pace usually only achieved when your dog stands on the TV remote by accident. There are riotous renditions of well-worn favourites, there are tantalising, scene-stealing new cuts, there are covers of The Wiggles – and the whole thing flashes by in a dizzying, hammering blur, like trying to box a kangaroo in a tumble dryer.

By the time it is launched into a blistering turn of closer Pub Feed, Boiler Shop might as well be a smouldering pile of rubble, reduced masterfully and sneeringly by a band on the brink of something genuinely special.

When it comes to punk music, The Chats prove once again that there is an outback in front of us.


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