Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Manc Lads, Sunday 5th May, Nag’s Head, Macclesfield

From 1988 to 1994 I was one of the biggest fans in the whole universe of a moderately famous band from Macclesfield in Cheshire. They were called The Macc Lads and were a trio of foul mouthed yet musically gifted and very clever guys who made a name for themselves amongst Lad culture around the UK as funny, brilliant and badass punk rockers (later heavy metal). They looked like an English Ramones with bikers’ jackets, sleeveless t-shirts and faded jeans. They walked on stage and insulted the audience, before goading them into spitting at them and/or chucking beer.

They had names like Muttley McLad, The Beater and Stez Styx. They wrote songs about shagging sheep, binge drinking, slags with gaping vaginas, enormous fat women and bar brawls. They were the exact opposite of “cool” but became it anyway. A walking, singing, guitar-drums-bass playing, hungover, glorious celebration of the excesses of being male in the 80s and 90s.

Their peak was about 1988 to 1991 when they played to 2000 people at Birmingham Hummingbird (a gig where Muttley and Phil McCavity got their heads split open by hurled ashtrays and thousands of pounds of damage was caused by the fans…but no hard feelings), had “No Sheep Till Buxton” played on ITV’s “The Chart Show” and did two tours per year to venues that sold out (albeit with some gigs banned by puritan local councils at the last minute).

In 1992 they took a hiatus and only Muttley McLad toured, alone, as The Macc Lad (acoustic guitar, no band) and jacked that in when someone bounced a Newcy Brown bottle off his head necessitating a spell in hospital, a blood transfusion and the machine that goes “ping!”

They didn’t play again until Christmas 1993 at Nottingham Rock City. The magic was still more or less there but a completely new line up (bar Muttley) and an extra guitarist put paid to the glory days of the late 80s. Stez Styx the drummer was gone, replaced by the barman from the Lads’ pub, The Bear’s Head. Miserable yet genius guitarist The Beater was long since gone. In 1995 they called it a day, reforming for a private gig in 1997 for Muttley’s football team with the four-piece line up and that was it.

Fans still listened to the music and as the back catalogue was released on CD new generations of fans emerged. They loved the music but they’d never seen the band live. Muttley didn’t want to reform and the closest it came was in 1999 when I interviewed them for a fan website called The Bear’s Head. The original line-up was there of Muttley, Stez and Beater and we had a pleasant few pints in The Ivy House pub (now renamed Last Orders) on Park Lane in Macc, reminiscing about the old days.

As the years went by only Stez was keen for a reunion and as it hit the 30 year anniversary it looked less and less likely until we gave up asking and just dusted off their first LP “Beer and Sex and Chips ‘n’ Gravy” every few months.

Then came a tribute band.

They came from Manchester. They called themselves The Manc Lads. They looked nothing like the Macc Lads but they sounded almost as good. Their gigs had a reputation for good sound and audience participation (females getting up and singing on “Fluffy Pup” and “Do You Love Me?”) They were now flying the flag.

Stez Styx sometimes showed up to their gigs and played drums on a couple of songs. They were well received and well liked by the fans of yesteryear.

And then came the announcement that they would be playing in Macclesfield. Not anywhere in Macc but in The Nag’s Head, a pub that features in quite a few Macc Lads songs. It would be a free gig and The Manc Lads said we should tell anyone who asked us to pay to get in to “fuck off!”

Announcements appeared on Facebook months in advance. We arranged groups to travel up, some planning from as far south as London. As Stez Styx would be there, and Muttley and Beater still lived in Macc, this was the closest we would ever get to a possible reunion of the original band, or maybe even them taking to the stage for a couple of songs. Another drummer, Chorley the Hord lived in Manchester so he was invited. Then Stammer, the Lads’ cartoonist.

When I got to Macc it was in a car with 3 guys I’d never met before but who were all fans from the late 1980s and had seen the Macc Lads in local pubs, before they got famous and  got into playing the same venues as Faith No More or L7.

We met some other blokes who were fans from the same era. We met others who were fans from the back catalogue reissue years of the late 90s/ early 2000s. About 30 guys who had all come to Macc in the hope of seeing at least one member of the original band get up and play again.

(site of Hectic House, Macc Lads' record shop)

After a ridiculous amount of alcohol on a brief pub tour we made our way to the venue and found the Nag’s Head slowly filling up. About an hour later Stez Styx showed up. It had been 22 years since I’d seen him. Muttley it turned out, was in Spain so wasn’t coming BUT The Beater might still show up. Fans recognised Stez straight away and about 10 or 15 blokes patiently waited for a photo opportunity. The juke box was Macc Lads stuff for about an hour before finally the tribute band took up their instruments.

(Me and Stez Styx)

It was more or less like the gigs of the legendary tours like“Fucking Hell It’s Cold” (winter) or the “Hadrian’s Wall Restoration Fund” (Scotland) or the “Stez Is Back” (Spring/ Summer 1990). A mosh pit, a LOT of alcohol and a cute girl at the front who wouldn’t get her tits out but sang on “Do You Love Me?”

The gig was good but then the drummer climbed off his stool and Stez Styx took over. For a couple of songs it was like being back in the glory days. “Dead Cat” and “Charlotte” (at least I think those were the songs he played as I was wasted on about 8 pints of Guinness by this point) and we moshed our arses off.

The Beater never showed up. Neither did Chorley and I don’t think Stammer did. But for all our disappointment that the Macc Lads themselves never made an appearance: having one Macc Lad there AND performing; having the FREE gig packed to capacity with about 200 people; having everyone having a gloriously pissed-up time; having the gig in Macc itself AND at one of the Macc Lads’ old boozers; having thirty or so guys from their 20s to their 50s drive hundreds of miles, book a hotel and get drunk in the Macc Lads honour…made it worthwhile.

A bookend to a glorious time of my adolescence. And Stez told us the happy news that him, Muttley and Beater met in January for a pint and spent 2 or 3 hours jamming together, playing old songs from the back catalogue. The fire isn’t quite dead, it just needs the fans to fan the flames some more.

Get weavin’!!!


  1. Nothing personal Lance,she's wrecking Julia M's blog as well

  2. ENCORE!! FFS!!!


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