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Band Celebrates Silver Anniversary

By Mike Dinoffria Special to the Daily Planet
Thursday September 05, 2002

Mekons front man John Langford did not expect his band to last 25 days let alone a quarter of a century when he started the Mekons along with Tom Greenhaigh in the late ’70s. But low and behold the band that hails from England is on the first leg of its 25th anniversary tour. The Mekons will bring their signature brand of English country rock to the The Starry Plough Pub tonight. 

Since emerging from the same Leeds University scene that produced post-punk legends Gang of Four in the late 1970s, the Mekons have undergone countless lineup changes. Langford and Greenhaigh are the backbone of the Mekons, and the only members to stay in the band throughout its history. Throughout the band’s existence critics have strained to pigeonhole them, comparing their music to diverse genres – from punk to traditional folk. Rather than waste time with comparisons some critics, such as legendary rock ’n’ roll critic Lester Bangs, who wrote the liner notes to the reissue of “The Mekons Story,” have simply called their music “important.” 

The lineup they are presenting on this tour piles an accordion and a Turkish instrument called a Saz on top of drums, bass, guitar and fiddles. 

“It's a wall of sound,” Langford said. 

The Mekons are touring to support their latest album called “Oooh! (Out of Our Heads),” released this May on Quarterstick Records. Along with the new songs, the Mekons will play some oldies that audiences have not heard for quite some time including “Lonely and Wet” of their 1979 debut album “The Quality of Mercy is Not Strnen” and “Teeth” a song off of a rare single released on Virgin records that the band has never before played live. 

“[These songs] didn’t sound the way they originally sounded,” Langford said. “I'm surprised how good they are.”  

The Mekons will aslo play on Friday at Slim's, 333 11th St., in San Francisco.