photo credit : Rik Walton
40th ANNIVERSARY UK TOUR
First generation punk act Penetration celebrate 40 years as a touring and recording band with an autumn UK tour.
Having played their first London show at the legendary Roxy club in April 1977 before releasing ’Don’t Dictate’ as
their debut single that November, the group deem 2017 to be not only their own 40th anniversary, but also that of
when punk hit the provinces.
A dozen dates in October/November will feature a set that traces the musical path taken by the band from its origins, including early demo songs, right up to 2015’s triumphant comeback album, ‘Resolution’. It will work through their repertoire in chronological order.
Here’s a live clip of ‘Don’t Dictate’ at the Electric Circus in Manchester in August 1977
The show will be road-tested with a performance at The Exchange in North Shields on 25th August, part of a two day Punk In The Provinces extravaganza during the Whitley Bay Film Festival. Full programme:
Autumn tour dates:
21.10.17 LIVERPOOL O2 Academy 2
22.10.17 GLASGOW Broadcast
26.10.17 LONDON O2 Academy Islington
27.10.17 BRIGHTON Lewes Con Club
28.10.17 BRISTOL The Fleece
03.11.17 EDINBURGH Mash House
04.11.17 NEWCASTLE Cluny
09.11.17 SHEFFIELD O2 Academy 2
10.11.17 PRESTON The Continental
11.11.17 DERBY The Hairy Dog
16.11.17 BIRMINGHAM O2 Academy 3
18.11.17 STOCKTON Georgian Theatre
Penetration were formed in Ferryhill, County Durham in late 1976 at the very beginning of the punk phenomenon.
Their bass, drums and twin guitar line-up were distinctive musical features, while singer Pauline Murray’s fearless yet vulnerable vocals fitted perfectly with their anthemic and often complex song arrangements. They signed to Virgin in 1977 and released the classic ‘Don’t Dictate’ single that autumn. Their debut album, ‘Moving Targets’, was released in 1978 to critical acclaim and commercial success, reaching no. 22 in the album chart.
Their second album, ‘Coming Up For Air’, was produced by Steve Lillywhite (in between helming the debuts of both Siouxsie & The Banshees and U2) and was recorded immediately after a long US tour. The sessions were rushed, but even so produced excellent songs such as ‘Come Into The Open’ and ‘Shout Above The Noise’ that ensured a healthy Top 40 chart placing for the finished record. However, a combination of stress and pressure from label and management proved telling factors when Murray announced onstage at Newcastle City Hall that Penetration were splitting up upon completion of their autumn 1979 UK tour to promote the album.
Murray and bassist Robert Blamire continued to write together and teamed up with Martin Hannett (Joy Division, Magazine) to record the proto dream pop single ‘Dream Sequence’ with The Invisible Girls. Released in 1980, it was swiftly followed by the Top 30 album ‘Pauline Murray And The Invisible Girls’ (reissued by Factory Benelux in 2014) and a tour with John Cooper Clarke. That same year, Murray also provided guest vocals on the final album release by The Only Ones, ‘Baby’s Got A Gun’ (including the single ‘Fools’), while Blamire began an association with the highly rated Scars that resulted in him producing their acclaimed ‘Author Author!’ album.
Personal life changes and disillusion with the industry caused Murray to turn her back on music in 1982 aged 23.
When she eventually started to write again it was as a fiercely independent artist. Setting up the Polestar label with Blamire, she released several singles during the latter half of the ‘80’s (including covers of songs by Alex Chilton and John Cale) and an album entitled ‘Storm Clouds’ in 1989. The following year she also set up Polestar Studios, a music rehearsal and recording facility in Newcastle.
Murray was persuaded to reform Penetration in 2000 and the group began playing live again, including a number of appearances at the annual Rebellion punk music festival. However, it was only in 2015 that they released their long awaited third album, ‘Resolution’, which was recorded via a Pledge campaign and was well received by critics and fans. It was awarded the no. 2 Album of the Year accolade by Vive Le Rock magazine, while their back catalogue was also reissued and positively reassessed in ‘The Virgin Years’ box set that autumn.
‘Resolution’ retains the essential components of Penetration, with subtle references to their previous releases sprinkled throughout. Produced by Blamire, his bass combined with the drumming of John Maher (Buzzcocks) provides a strong rhythm section, while the powerful guitar parts of Steve Wallace and Paul Harvey blend perfectly, leaving Murray’s still strong and unique voice to convey passionate yet intelligent lyrical subject matter.
A video for the song ‘Beat Goes On’ from ‘Resolution’ can be seen here:
The album artwork is designed by Vaughan Oliver. A legend in his own right via his long term association with the 4AD label, he was actually in the same class at school as Murray and Blamire.
Penetration toured ‘Resolution’ upon release and in 2016, while Murray also appeared in BBC TV programmes and on music and literary panel discussions relating to influential women in rock and the 40th Anniversary of Punk.
PENETRATION – ‘RESOLUTION’ REVIEW QUOTES
“Their jangly, soulful, melodic take on punk-pop still has freshness and urgency 7/10” UNCUT
“This is a confident and exciting high for the band 8/10” CLASSIC ROCK
“A push and pull between vulnerability and optimism 8/10” VIVE LE ROCK
“Punchy, purposeful and convincingly contemporary 4/5” RECORD COLLECTOR
“Powerful, emotional, reflective, romantic. Absolutely flawless 10/10” LOUDER THAN WAR