Steve Ignorant (Crass) and The Last Supper



On Saturday 25th September I went to see Steve Ignorant (ex singer/songwriter of Crass, Schwarzenegger and The Stratford Mercenaries) at the 02 Academy in Birmingham. This date was one of many on a tour that sees Steve perform (for the very last time) a collection of Crass songs that either he wrote or co-wrote.  Nostalgia is a strange beast and where there was to some degree a hidden expectation of this tour re-kindling the atmosphere and zeitgeist of the early days of Crass and anarcho-punk it felt odd watching a combination of both young and old (old enough to have been there the first time round) punks singing and pogoing to perhaps something past it’s sell by date.

Please don’t misunderstand what I am saying as Steve and his band put on a fantastic, visceral and passionate performance that left me in no doubt that he still has it in him. I think what I am trying to say here is that the power, the energy and the edginess of those songs has now been lost in translation through time. When Crass first came onto the music scene, and gave punk a real sense of purpose, their whole approach to music and politics was a rallying call to a whole generation of young people dissatisfied with and discarded by mainstream society overseen by a megalomaniac government that had no time for anyone that disagreed with them.

Crass were a real challenge to society’s accepted practices and with that engendered a lot of media and political attention. My memories of their gigs were ones of both beauty (passionate angry pleading lyrics, libertarian and liberating politics and commitment from a group of performers not interested in playing for profit) and the dark underlying tension (anger and the risk of skinheads and other groups of people storming and trashing not only the gig but the audience and band as well).

The times we are living in today are not that dissimilar to when Crass first started performing (war, high unemployment, disaffected youth) but that sense of coming together to challenge our ‘lot’ has been diluted. Hence the reason that, despite Steve Ignorant’s excellent performance, it seemed to be lacking in power and meaning.

I was hoping to get to speak to Steve after the gig about my research but, obviously not being the best time, didn’t even manage to get backstage to arrange a later date that I could go and speak to him. I did however get a copy of his book ‘The Rest Is Propaganda’ which I look forward to reading soon and I am going to endeavour to speak to him at a later date.

I did however, amongst the loudness of the gig, get chatting to a few old punks that said they would be happy to be interviewed at some point in the future-so all not lost!

Yesterday I also came across an interview Steve gave just before the beginning of this tour to Near FM an Eire community radio station. It gives some insight into some of the myths around Crass but also Steve’s rationale for touring this material. I have edited the musical interludes out but here is the link to the full interview.

Here is the edited version


And here are a few photos i took at the gig on my phone (so not brilliant)


4 thoughts on “Steve Ignorant (Crass) and The Last Supper

  1. I think all music is contextualised, not just by the social aspects of the time, but also by the personal experiences of the individual listener.

    It totally makes sense that in these, slightly, more stable political times the original context of the songs is somewhat skewed or lost, and indeed as time passes our own relationship to the music changes.

    For example, as a mopey teenager I went through the whole ‘Nirvana-obsession’, whereas now I concentrate less on the bleak lyrics and more on the brilliant song writing. I still love the music, and even the anger, but my relationship to these elements has shifted.

  2. Yeah thats spot on Nick-the meaning that music gives/we take/interpret very much depends on many elements. Time, space, personal state of being (physical and metaphysical), social, political, cultural landscape. I’m not really sure if we live in more stable political times, I think what has happened is that politics has become more homogeneous so their are fewer extremes and positions to take, successive governments have continually, by subterfuge, draconian laws and a fear agenda, disempowered the individual to the extent that they no longer have the will to fight.
    Your point about Nirvana echoes the loss of teenage angst through time and maturity though interestingly enough Kurt was no teenager when he wrote his songs-more than likely a totured soul that young people could latch onto and empathise with in a ‘safer’ environment-i.e taking from Kurt the ideas that resonated with their own lives at that time only to discover that life isn’t so bad after all-is it??

  3. There’s a lot to be discussed when it comes to Nirvana’s lyrics – many of them are streams of conciousness “nonsense” that have no obvious meaning, however very strong, personal and dark meanings are projected on to them by fans.

    I believe that this is not only to do with the life and experiences of the fan, but also the context, “image” and persona of Kurt Cobain himself. ie – if depressive, dark rock star Kurt Cobain sings something, it’s going to be dark and depressing, whatever the actual content.

    Perhaps this relates to the Steve Ignorant gig – not only have you moved on, but perhaps Steve himself is in a different place, and thus the songs he once sang as an 18 year old have a different meaning being sand at the age of 40? (I have no idea of how old he is btw! no offence Steve!)

  4. I sort of take your point. To some degree the meaning from lyrics is like any form of mediation. It can relate to simple transmission models of communication or it can be immersed in discourse. Some of what Kurt writes about is interpreted in the way it was intended (transmission) whereas your point about meanings projected by fans is more discursive. You are right in some respects about moving on but my values and beliefs were re-inforced and developed by the whole anarcho-punk movement and I still hold those beliefs and values close.
    I’m not sure if those songs have aparticularly different meaning (especially to the writer), they may well do, but I think it is more about the power those words have.

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