The Mekons/Cud, The Duchess Of York, Leeds

IN many people's eyes, the reviled Cud should be exactly where they are right at this minute, propping up the bill and playing to a handful of early comers on a windswept winter's night. Fortunately, though, their lowly status tonight doesn't indicate a sudden downturn in their popularity, but a surprise appearance to try out same new songs. It's not a bad idea.

Devoid of their usual exuberant audience, Cud are forced to stand alone, and mighty fine figure they cut too, Carl Puttnam's girth and "Burger King" tee-shirt notwithstanding. Long gone is the student funk of yore, the band now veering (with an eye on America?) towards an unholy collision of Led Zeppelin and the Fatback Bond. Still, for those of you who can't possibly contemplate the idea of a Cud with axe solos, it's nice to report that at least three of the new songs attempted end in an ignoble shambles. Cud are still the Great White Hopeless.

This must be the 352nd time I've encountered The Mekons and I still don't recognise half the line-up. Kevin's long gone, of course, but who is that new (old!) drummer? Moving swiftly on, the band kick off with a tremendous "Rock 'n' Roll", but slowly the fire subsides at surely as Sally Timms' wig slips down her face.

Sally y'see, as decided to "parody" the blond=mopped rock chick. but has ended up looking like Stevie Nicks (as she is now, unfortunately), and the crowd aren't slow to spot this, to her considerable annoyance. Timms' visage uncannily mirrors tonight's set: old wine in, well, old bottles. The new songs sound like punk retreads and the edge is as absent as the (once customary) politics.

Love the band Hated the gig.

But maybe I 'm just possed off cos they didn't play ' "Lonely And Wet.

Dave Simpson