Review: Pint Shot Riot – ‘Viva England’

vivaenglandAh it’s nearly that time again.

Up and down the land, pubs are being decorated with stories-high crosses of St. George, each trying to outdo the other with enticing special offers in a bid to convince the locals to choose their own establishment for England’s latest underwhelming 1-1 draw against the group minnows.

On the balconies of council estates, this month’s washing is being moved from its perilous perch to make way for yet more – but slightly smaller – red and white banners. Soon, the nation’s cars will be adorned with bite-sized versions, each seemingly mere seconds away from ending its days in an evidence bag after causing a major road accident. Yes it can all mean only one thing: it’s Christmas in Corfu for the chief executive of Britain’s leading flag making company.

Oh, and a major football tournament is about to kick off somewhere in Europe.

Of course, football and rock music have been best buddies ever since The Kinks’ ‘Sunny Afternoon’ topped the charts while Bobby Moore and all did the impossible in ‘66, and the results are not always that glorious. For instance, this writer can recall being stood in wide-eyed amazement at Leeds United’s Elland Road football ground back in 2008, fearing the entire locality was about to be swallowed up in a giant mouth of irony as 30,000 willing folk bounced life-affirmingly to the Kaiser Chiefs’ ‘Everything Is Average Nowadays’, and wondering what anyone else in attendance whose ticket was bought on their behalf had done to deserve such a fate.

The unofficial England song is another long-standing result of the relationship, and again it’s a long, pottered history of ups and downs; read through a list of these bi-annual efforts and, like most Friday nights out on the town, you’ll find for every mouth-watering ‘Vindaloo’ there’s also a panic-inducing bombardment of cheesy 80s electro-pop. Now, into these troubled waters delve Coventry four-piece Pint Shot Riot with the single ‘Viva England’.

Thankfully for all concerned, the straight-down-the-line, heartfelt passion which made their debut album ‘Spell It Out’ such a ridiculously entertaining half-an-hour has not been left on the touchline, putting the song firmly in the Fat Les camp, which in this context, is very much a good thing.

Building around a base of acoustic guitar, frontman Rocket paints a bright future of a united England as the short, infectious chorus of the kind which Pint Shot Riot comfortably excel at muscles in to make for the perfect seasonal tune. The elongated outro gradually comes into view with a looping, evolving refrain of ‘I’m England till I die’, pushing the song head-first into terrace chant territory – exactly where all the best football anthems are most at ease.

Unlike most of the tracks all set to clog up the airwaves this summer, this single has a true purpose behind it. All proceeds from the sales of ‘Viva England’ and ‘Viva England (extra time version)’ will go towards the Homeless World Cup Foundation and the England Homeless Football Association – supporting homeless projects and aiming to help raise awareness of the issues surrounding homelessness.

Watch it, support it and above all buy it, and we can all help make sure people far more deserving than greedy chief executives will be the ones who stand to benefit from the latest summer of England’s delusion.

(Dave Smith)

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