‘You could have grilled toast on the warmth of that crowd’

Garry Bushell

Garry Bushell

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“It was going to be us, versus Bob Geldof and The Boomtown Rats, but he bottled it,” Garry Bushell said of his band’s slot at this year’s Rebellion Festival.

The annual punk celebration gets underway at the Winter Gardens today, and the former The Sun editor and music and pop culture commentator is a big fan of the event and its diversity.

More than 9,000 people will come into town from around the world for the events this weekend, with Geldof and co, The Damned and Buzzcocks headlining almost 300 acts playing across the four-day programme.

As well as his midnight music slot, Bushell hosts various talks on the festival’s literary stage and expects to catch up on bands new and old.

“We’re up against the Buzzcocks now, which is a shame as I would have been watching them otherwise,” he said.

“I’ll be looking out for the Bar Stool Preachers who are a new band I really like. Rebellion’s always had the new bands stage, it’s like a break-through springboard for them.

“And it’s not just pure punk, there are so many different styles, ska and two tone.

“I’m looking forward to seeing Roy Ellis, from Symarip, play and to speaking to him on stage too.”

Also on his wish list for the weekend are The Sweet, Less Than Jake, and Argy Bargy - who he describes as ‘if The Jam had been punkier’.

He’s paid tribute to the atmosphere of the 19-year-old festival, having ‘never seen any problems’ in all the years he’s attended, adding: “One of the happiest audiences I’ve seen, ever, in my life was last year - maybe the year before - with 2,000 people going barmy to Chas and Dave.

“You could have grilled toast on the warmth of that crowd.”

Garry hails the festival as a chance for anyone who enjoys live music to see acts on stage, as a counter to The X Factor culture of chart pop.

“I find X Factor and the old Simon Cowell thing of what he’s done to pop music a but obscene,” he said. “It’s nice to see something with fire and vitality as you do at Rebellion.

“His vision of music is so narrow.”

Also on the headline bill are American politicists Anti Flag, hardcore New York combo Sick Of It All, American horror-punk originators Misfits and ska favourites The Neville Staple Band, plus British punk veterans The Damned, Sham 69 and UK Subs as well as influential post-punk outfit Gang of Four.

Jonny Wah Wah, one of the organisers, said: “It is a great line-up and to be honest, we don’t have any difficulty pulling in the big names these days because there is no other festival like this in the world.

“The American bands actually approach us to play here because it’s unique. We’re independent and don’t rely on big sponsorship.

“We’re really lucky to have a venue like the Winter Gardens, it’s just a lovely place. Rebellion is good for Blackpool, too. We bring a big lift to the local economy and there is never any trouble.”

Four-day tickets cost £160 on the door, or £45 for today only and £65 for day tickets tomorrow to Sunday.

For further details/gig times visit the main festival’s official website www.rebellionfestivals.com.