Live music: Reading, Bowery District (Sub 89), August 7

IT'S not often that you get to see one of the greatest punk bands on the planet, let alone in a fairly intimate venue, pretty much on your doorstep - so when the opportunity arises, you grab it with both hands.

So it was with huge expectations that I headed for Reading in the height of the rush-hour on a Friday evening.

First up were local boys The Twin Dracula - I have seen them many times and never been disappointed. They are tight and talented as a band, playing some really fast, angry, contemporary punk.

Basingstoke Gazette:

I was glad to see that a reasonable crowd had already begun to assemble, to give them the support they deserve. It was a great opening performance, made better by good lighting, excellent sound and an all round good atmosphere.

Next up were The Brawlers who I had never heard of, but who had come down from Leeds.

Basingstoke Gazette:

As they took to the stage, I was thinking, "this could go either way......" and for me, it went the wrong way.

Too often big bands a mis-matched with support bands that no self-respecting DIY promoter would lump together. I don't know, perhaps they were trying to increase the size and diversity of the audience, but the bog-standard, mainstream rock just fell flat to those around me. Don't get me wrong - they were good at what they did, they just shouldn't have been doing it here.

The headline band was Anti-Flag and it the punk world, they are pretty much premiership quality. They have been around for decades, they play some amazing songs on a range of socio-political issues and more than anything else, they appear totally genuine, walking the walk, as well as talking the talk.

By now the place was packed and with in a few songs the crowd was heaving and the temperature and humidity levels were in the red.

They played the perfect set, with a raft of their most popular songs, bringing the crowd to a frenzy, so that when they dropped in some new material from their recently released album, it was lapped up eagerly and no doubt sold a few more CDs for them.

The cherry on the top was an excellent cover of Should I Stay Or Should I Go by The Clash - a top UK punk band.

All in all it was a fantastic night. Thanks to the bands who played, to the promoter for putting on Anti-Flag in an intimate venue, where they shine brightest and to the management and staff of the venue for ensuring that all ran smoothly.