The Outcasts

I’ve seen and heard many bands since whose music commands more of my listening time.  But The Outcasts changed my life…

Derrytrasna community centre.  A spartan sort of a building.  A stage and a long, thin dancefloor with a row of seats either side.  Home to afternoon “guest teas” and Sunday night discos.   And one night in the late 1970s, home to the first of a number of appearances by Belfast’s The Outcasts.

It was shortly after they’d launched their debut album “Self Conscious Over You” and they were still sporting the look they modelled on that album’s cover – suedehead haircuts, biker jackets and combat trousers.

 

The Outcasts - Self Conscious Over You (Good Vibrations Records)
The Outcasts – Self Conscious Over You (Good Vibrations Records)

The music was fast, aggressive, accessible.  I’d heard a few punk tunes, of course, at the time.  Could probably have named a few bands.  But seeing a band up close!  Feeling the thud of the bass in the pit of my stomach! Sweating as we – instinctively – began slamming into one another at the foot of the stage!  I became an instant convert…  Next Saturday, I too was sporting an attempt at a suedehead haircut; I too was wearing combat trousers.  Shortly afterwards, I too was saving up for the obligatory biker jacket.

 

Me (left in obligatory biker jacket) and Sid Blaney, Derrytrasna, late 1970s
Me (left in obligatory biker jacket) and Sid Blaney, Derrytrasna, late 1970s

Quickly I began to get sucked into the whole punk scene.  It left me with an attitude that has shaped my view of the world ever since.  Even now, in my 50s, I can still feel that teenage energy bubble up from time to time.  My tastes may have broadened a little but I’m very aware of their source.  A weeknight in Derrytrasna, a few smuggled tins of Tennents, a band from Belfast…

So it’s sad as I sit here, typing, to think that of the four original members of The Outcasts, two are now dead.  Colin, the drummer, died in a motorbike accident shortly after I saw them play for the first time.  And Getty, guitarist, passed away just a few days ago.  We get older, time passes, people die.  Some we forget.  Others will live on in our memories; forever young, on a stage in Derrytrasna, playing raucous life-changing music…