Dublin Castle 3rd & 4th November

A celebration of the late great Poly Styrene


Manilla PR Ltd.

Bugbear Promotions in association with Rock ’n’ Roll Rescue present...


Dublin Castle 3rd & 4th November

A celebration of the late great Poly Styrene and the 40th anniversary of the seminal ‘Germfree Adolescents’ by X-Ray Spex.

Bugbear Promotions in association with Rock ’n’ Roll Rescue present...


Dublin Castle 3rd & 4th November

A celebration of the late great Poly Styrene and the 40th anniversary of the seminal ‘Germfree Adolescents’ by X-Ray Spex.

Poly Styrene has long been associated with the punk rock movement. However, unlike many of her contemporaries, the music she created has crossed boundaries, transcended genres and stood the test of time, thus opening the floodgates for a plethora of female artists who have taken the baton of originality passed on by this much loved singer-songwriter, performer and icon.

The seminal and much applauded album ‘Germfree Adolescents’ was released in November 1978 with her fantastic band X-Ray Spex and proved to be a spellbinding and eclectic mix that had the energy of punk whilst offering something completely different.

With the colourful musical backdrop the band created, replete with playful saxophone, a wall of incessant riffing and time signature changes, Poly Styrene had the perfect vehicle to embrace a diverse repertoire of subject matters. These included teen angst, OCD, science fiction, consumerism and even stem cell cloning! It's worth checking out tracks such as ‘Genetic Engineering’ to realise how prophetic and ahead of her time this incredible lyricist actually was!

Poly, whose real name was real name was Marianne Joan Eliot, gained a huge female following whilst liberating disenfranchised girls across the globe when she famously made braces on teeth fashionable and cool.

As a vehement anti-war protagonist, Styrene would actually sport deconstructed war attire, with her weapon of choice being a handbag stuffed with cotton wool. She was a true original!

Her incredible single 'I Am a Cliche' showed the self-deprecating side to her writing, whilst 'Oh Bondage Up Yours' appeared to send up her male contemporaries, who were somehow not subscribing to the remit of individualism that the church of punk or new wave appeared to be proselytising.

Sadly Poly, who was the daughter of a Scottish legal secretary and an absent Somalian aristocrat, passed away at the age of 53 through breast cancer, but left a legacy that keeps her effervescent spirit and positive method of thinking alive to this day.

In 2012 writer and producer Mike Bennett, whose credits include The Fall, The Specials and Ian Brown to name a few, got together with some like-minded producers and artists such as Youth, Kevin Rowland, Judy Tzuke and Jennie Bellstar to put on a celebratory boutique festival celebrating the life and times of Poly Styrene.

Mike Bennett takes up the story: “I first met Poly when I was working at Trojan Records in the mid-nineties, where separately Poly was working on her difficult second album 'Conscious Consumer’. I say difficult second album with my tongue firmly lodged in my cheek, because the philanthropic Poly had been working on a diverse array of projects in between the first and second album. I would have loved to have been involved, but the end result was perfect, showing Poly in fine form. Luckily for me I later got to mix a track with Poly singing with Goldblade, which was an honour.”

“Anyhow, post-Trojan days I moved to LA with sporadic visits back to London and Brighton. Around about 2010 I started putting together some tracks with Poly after being reintroduced via a mutual friend, Robin Runciman. One of the tracks was a reworking of ‘Germfree Adolescents’. When the news came of Poly’s passing I was so sad, my thoughts took me back into my teens to my first encounter with this brilliant artist. This was when I got a whack over the head with her soft and beautifully garish plastic handbag. This happened as I jumped up to pogo at one of my first ever gigs at Cheltenham Town Hall. The bag had a tough exterior but was soft inside, not unlike Poly herself.”

“Despite her illness all she spoke about on the phone was a band she had been helping called The Munroes, a great alternative rock combo who embraced Poly’s DIY ethos. Anyway, the track got completed with Hazel O’Connor’s gifted niece Charlie O’Connor and Glen Matlock on Bass. That became the catalyst for Polyfest. As tributes poured in from all over the world, a tribute was organised at The Half Moon in Putney and a debt of gratitude is owed to Carrie Lawson and broadcaster Tony Gleed for keeping the event going each year. Looking after the artistic elements, I try hard to keep it eclectic and it’s great to see everyone from Kings Road Punks to Electro freaks enjoying Poly classics and tributes being belted out by the likes of Anita Harris, Angie Brown, Saffron from Republica, Melanie Williams and of course Jennie Bellstar and more. I mention the female element and we are striving for more female tributes this year, as it’s the Year of the Woman. This is not to devalue intrinsically important past contributions from Dexys, The Vibrators, Mark Stewart, Jonah Lewie, Jah Wobble and more. This year an all female cast will perform ‘Germfree Adolescents’ which will be reimagined in sequence. It’s exciting and it’s being recorded and streamed live by USA station ‘Xstream’. This year we have massive fans of Poly on board in the form of Fuzzbox, who personify Poly’s individualism. They are perfect ambassadors for Poly’s positive message and outlook on life - a perfect piece of casting with Tony Gleed at the helm.”

Vix and Maggie of Fuzzbox are already planning for POLYFEST 6 and they explain why they are so excited for the event:

Vix: “When you hear the first 'We’ve got a Fuzzbox and we’re gonna use it!' album, Bostin Steve Austin, our love of X-Ray Spex is evident. We would sometimes jam X-Ray Spex songs and play around with the idea of covering one of the songs, but we sounded too similar to do them justice!

"We felt that we had a lot in common; pushing boundaries for women in music, non-conformist image, mixing alternative, edgy music with pop-centric lyrics and concepts, using irony and satire - and I definitely love a good ol’ whoop!

Fuzzbox are still the UK’s most successful all-girl band (who play instruments) and are so chuffed to be performing at Polyfest, still representing individuality and diversity. We might even have a go at a Fuzzbox rendition of an X-Ray Spex song at long last…”

Maggie: “It’s hard to imagine the influence of Poly on working class girls from Birmingham. She wasn’t the pretty, pretty girl pop-star we were used to either in looks, vocals or lyrics. Instead of singing about being in love and how heartbroken we should all be, she challenged us to think about our Identity, to Turn the world Day-Glo and reminded us we were Germ Free Adolescents.

"It’s more than obvious that Fuzzbox were influenced by her work lyrically and musically. We made valiant attempts at playing saxophone and our lyrics weren’t concerned with lovelorn teenage girls. We didn’t try to look ‘pretty’ either. Poly liberated a whole generation of post punk women. Thank you!”

With an amazing array of females spearheading the ‘Germfree’ segment including Julie E. Gordon - Ex-Happy Mondays, Mel Williams of Ain’t No Love (Ain’t No Use) fame, and Gaye Advert who will be curating a special art exhibition, it’s going to be a fascinating and exciting show in aid of Rock ‘n‘ Roll Rescue, a multi-purpose charity set up by long term X-Ray Spex friend and fan, Knox of The Vibrators.

Other acts on the bill include Polyfest veterans Doctor And The Medics, John Otway, The Vapors, The Vibrators, Tom Hingley (Inspiral Carpets), The Rubettes, Garsoons, Paul Wagstaff (Black Grape), Ed Blaney, She Robot, various members of The Lurkers, Massive Attack, The Smiths and many more.

The event will be hosted by Membranes legend John Robb alongside rising star Laura Beth of BBC Radio, Louder Than War and Revolution

“Polyfest is a great chance to celebrate a one-off who has truly made a difference. Her impact on contemporary music and the way she helped shape a future for like-minded women will always have significant prevalence. The spirit of Poly Styrene remains a tour de force. I gather the all-female reimagined Germfree Adolescents 40th anniversary performance will be Side 1 on the Saturday and Side 2 on the Sunday. With loads of legends augmenting this timeless body of work it’s going to be amazing“- Laura Beth

Enough said...

Quotes from Females involved with Polyfest and the Year of the Woman

“Poly Styrene, an artist of many words, a true performer and a woman of colour! Who stood up and ran with the wolves. The music business (as we all know) has always been controlled by men. Poly came along and made such a difference to the rock ‘n’ roll Brit scene, in a unforgettable and individual way… she will always be remembered for it, and celebrated as one of the best heroes of rock.”

• Angie Brown

“Poly was a seminal artist who was, and still is, very hard to categorise simply because of her individualism. She expressed herself through brilliant words and made a difference.”

• Melanie Williams, Sub Sub

“I love her work. ‘Plastic Bag’ is a particular favourite of mine. The spiky lyrics, the delivery and the persona. Poly had a profound effect on female artists for four decades. I’ve no doubt she will continue to influence artist for years and years to come”

• Stella Grundy, Intastella

“From the moment you hit play, Poly Styrene’s defiant yet positive vision and luminous energy hits you like a Day Glo sonic beacon, punching effortlessly through four decades to sound as authentic, fresh and relevant now as ever.

"Along with bands such as Fuzzbox, she embodied a vision of feminine power unrivalled to this day - confident, jaunty, self-possessed and free from bitterness or despair. Exuberant and gleeful, Poly criticised the establishment without becoming defined by it; the sign of one whose mind was truly free.

"‘Germ Free Adolescents’ is a call to arms for any female artist today who dares to be herself on her own terms. I can’t wait!”

• Suzy Condrad, She, Robot

“We used to listen to ‘Germfree Adolescents’ on the tour bus. We were disposable pop, whilst X-Ray Spex was anything but that. How ironic that Poly Styrene would name herself after something disposable. She was certainly the Queen of sending herself up, giving her leave to have a playful jab at anyone and anything. I don’t think there is a song that she has written that does not have resonance with me”

• Lacey Bond, Toto Coelo

“What is there not to like about this superb singer-songwriter? ‘Germfree Adolescents’ is surely the most original album to come from the Punk and New Wave era. Songs that named and shamed the likes of Kleenex, Woolworths, Listerine and even poor old Weetabix. She sent it all up, but then on the other hand sent herself up by singing songs such as ‘I Am a Cliché’. Must have been a tough call breaking through in a completely male-orientated genre. Soon after her came the likes of Hazel O’Connor and in America Wendy O’ William, so I was a huge fan. Theatricality without the Broadway and West End, punk overtones without the razorblades and safety pins. There was something far more original there and, if you look, it’s totally unique to this day. Poly was self-styled and that’s hard to imitate. She did inspire a lot of people and was a door opener. A breath of fresh air who truly will remain timeless. To make a singalong record with the main thrust of the lyric being ‘Oh Bondage Up Yours’ is absolutely marvellous and almost has a Music Hall quality. I’m really looking forward to performing some of her tracks at Polyfest.”

• Julie E Gordon, Happy Mondays

“ An incredible and unique artist. There has never been anyone quite like her since and yet her influence is everywhere”

• Judy Tzuke

“What I really loved about this woman’s marvellous way of writing and delivering songs was the way she broke conventions and bent the rules. Her snappy songs worked on many levels, which is why so many people from different walks of life could identify with the message she was putting across, which was positive, powerful and thought-provoking. We need more like Poly - bring it on at Polyfest “

• Christine ‘Sugary’ Staple

“Poly was a one-off. Dynamic and gifted, her music will live on… I'll never forget the first time I saw X Ray Spex, they turned the traditional way a band should look on its head and it was stunning. The visuals and the songs so perfectly complementing each other, and Poly looked so confident. I was an instant convert”

• Gaye Advert

“Poly Styrene was punk without being punk”

• Danie Centric, The Lurkers

“As the years rolled on, Poly change the tone of her work and always experimented with different sonic sounds. Her solo material was amazing. Translucent was fun. Generation Indigo was particularly unique and drew from reggae, dub and electronically-led music. This lady was always pushing boundaries and the track ‘I Love My Sneakers’, which as a vegetarian I could completely identify with it, but it worked in its own right and did not ostracise anyone, but opened up a debate, which is what she was very good at doing. The whole album is brilliant lyrically and had that nursery rhyme style melody. Poly will be recognised now and in years to come. In many ways she reminded me of the late, great Syd Barrett. Childlike and playful, but littered with sophistication, which is a combination that is rare to say the least “

• Melanie Williams, Sub Sub

“I have to say I’ve always loved X-Ray Spex, so it’s a major honour to be asked to co-host this marvellous event. Poly first came to my attention when I saw a repeat of a documentary that was made on her by the BBC. At that time this icon today was a fledgling poet and songwriter who did not seem to fit into any mould. That certainly turned out to be a good thing, because we got something fresh and something that would go on to inspire generations of female artists. This is inherently evident with Fuzzbox, who certainly in their early incarnation had a bit of Poly spirit. Like Poly, Fuzzbox became changelings and morphed into different incarnations that were equally as inspired. Poly lit the torch for the likes of Fuzzbox, Toyah, Hazel O’Connor and many more.”

• Laura Beth, BBC Radio Manchester

“ The thing is about Poly is that the things she was writing about way back are so relevant today. The whole thing about consumerism, cloning, being ostracised, the attitude towards mental health issues... Naturally there are poor imitations. Far too many to mention here, but people who took the influence and did their own thing with it were very wise. I heard Anita Harris perform an X Ray Spex set in a Carpenters-style setting. It was gorgeous.”

“ I loved X-Ray Spex first time round and when I did my first Polyfest it was absolutely wonderful, with Youth from Killing Joke and Mark Stewart, The Pop Group giving the most support. I sang ‘I Live Off You’ to a bunch of screaming Poly fans. I still have X-Ray Spex songs in my set to this day. I give them the Las Vegas versions “

• Anita Harris

“ I was fascinated to find out that Poly designed the logo with a felt pen (I am of course referring to the iconic X Ray Spex logo). I’ve still got eight badges in different colours with this logo on. I bought them on the Kings Road. Funny, because for me it represented proper girl power.”

• Anita Mahadevan, Toto Coelo

“I’ve been with Polyfest from day one and have always enjoyed celebrating this monumental event. I loved the way she sang about vegetarianism in a non-confrontational way, but check out ‘I Love My Sneakers’ on ‘Generation Indigo’, her brilliant electronic album. I also really love the X Ray Spex second album, Conscious Consumer, because it tackled so many issues that were relevant then and somehow resonate in the shadow of today’s apocalypse.“

• Greta Jeynkins, Polyfest Events Manager

August 17, 2018 6:06am ET by Manilla PR Ltd.  

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