Review: Bad Manners, Engine Rooms, Southampton – December 2022

Review: Bad Manners, Engine Rooms, Southampton – December 2022

words and photographs by Peter Nicholson.

When I get asked to photograph a gig, sometimes I take it in my stride. Other times I really look forward to it. The Bad Manners gig  at Southampton’s Engine Rooms was one of the latter.

My favourite era of music (simply because of when I grew up) was, without doubt, the late 70s and early 80s. The era that spawned such diverse genres as Punk and the New Romantics. Nestled in there too was the late 70s Ska movement.

In 1979, Bad Manners formed as a nine-piece band, inspired by the likes of The Specials and the Ska Revival Movement. They enjoyed success with hits including Special Brew, Lip Up Fatty and the Can Can. But by the mid 80s, the Ska movement had been pushed out of the mainstream by the New Romantics and more generic pop. This led to the band temporarily hanging up their instruments. But in 1989 they were back, and have been a great live band since then.

Having never seen Bad Manners live, I went to the gig wondering if I would have a flood of nostalgia for the years that peaked my love of music, or if I would experience the equivalent of actually driving one of the “super” cars that adorned my teenage bedroom wall, only to realise it was slow, noisy, hard to drive, and nowhere near as good as I had hoped. I needn’t have worried, as soon as the band started, the nostalgia flooded back! The Ford Capri was a cool as I’d hoped!

All photos:

My nostalgia appetite was wetted by the opening act, Max Splodge (Splodgenessabounds) who bought smiles to the faces of the audience with Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps Please, his one-hit-wonder, but such a nostalgia rush. He even played a Sham 69 song and a Tempole Tudor song. Both of which had the crowd singing along (as I was from the photo-pit!).

I realise that anyone under the age of 45 reading this might be raising an eyebrow about the poetic title of Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps Please, but don’t judge, it was fun, and everyone would sing along to it! (Check it out, the lyrics are easy to remember!).

When Bad Manners took to the stage, the inevitable chants of “You fat B******” rang out, but this is just a well-used term of endearment for Buster Bloodvessel, the band’s front man. He revelled in the attention. The band, still a nine piece, but a very different line-up, were obviously having the time of their lives on stage!

I often photograph bands who seem to be going through the motions, but this certainly wasn’t the case here. Everyone in the band was smiling, dancing and clearly enjoying every minute. The enjoyment shone, as did the the musical skills. From the rhythm section, through the guitars to the horns section, all were in perfect sync, and loving it! Buster, despite is 64 years, was having a blast!

Playing all the hits as well as an upbeat Ska instrumental in the middle of the set, the whole evening was a celebration of a 40-year-old genre that still feels just as enjoyable. The band were playing like they had nothing to prove, other than that music should be fun above everything else. They succeeded.

If Bad Manners are back in Southampton next year, I’ll be at the front of the queue for tickets!


  • In Common is not for profit. We rely on donations from readers to keep the site running. Could you help to support us for as little as 25p a week? Please help us to carry on offering independent grass roots media. Visit: