Tag Archives: ska

Sound Guernsey: Sons of the Desert, Honest Crooks, Equilibrium, Cosmic Fish – The Fermain Tavern – 17/03/17

Sons of the Desert

Sons of the Desert and friends

You can see a full gallery of my photos from the show on the BBC Introducing Guernsey Facebook page

Sound Guernsey‘s March 2017 show had a very punk-ska flavour to things with their old formula of two young bands playing alongside two more experienced groups.

Cosmic Fish kicked off the show with a set of old-school pop-punk starting with Green Day’s Welcome To Paradise and continuing in similar fashion.

Compared to when I’d seen them throughout last year the trio have come on in leaps in bounds and, while they still have some way to go in terms of audience interaction and performing confidence, their renditions of songs by Blink-182, Good Charlotte and their ilk have a lot going for them.

Cosmic Fish

Cosmic Fish

Throughout the set there were a few moments where the energy found a good level that, in a perfect world, would have seen the audience get more energetic (they remained attentive but restrained) and it was the closing pair of Jimmy Eat World’s The Middle and Blink’s All The Small Things that closed the set in a high.

Another band who made a good impression last year and have built on that are Equilibrium.

Having been one of the young highlights of the early Sound events the band went on the play Liberation Day and the Vale Earth Fair amongst other things but like the openers they seemed to have stepped up their game once more.

Sticking with a similar pop-rock selection, including a couple of extra Red Hot Chilli Peppers tunes, the band had a much more relaxed energy from the off and this was clearly infectious.



The aforementioned Chilli Peppers track Otherside was a highlight of the set as was their take at Blink-182’s Stay Together For The Kids where several members of the band swapped instruments.

Their takes on Basket Case and All The Small Things (also done earlier by Cosmic Fish) didn’t quite match the previous band’s but in all it was a good set and, with a little bit more power, Equilibrium will be a band worth keeping an eye on.

After a few months off following a very busy 2016, Honest Crooks were starting to gear up for an already busy summer season as they took to the Tav’s stage. While they were a little lose compared to past gigs it was all relaxed and fun as they mixed their own songs with some more ska oriented covers and they had the crowd going from the start.

Honest Crooks

Honest Crooks

With a genuinely funny ‘play some Slayer moment’ (a rarity these days where that joke wore thin a decade ago) and great covers of Reel Big Fish’s Beer and Sublime’s Santeria it was really their own songs that provided the highlights and they certainly set the mood well for the night’s headliners.

Following the more modern ska warm up, Sons Of The Desert set out to provide a perfect primer for all thing two-tone and of the late 70s/early 80s UK ska scene. Spanning tracks from The Beat and The Selecter to Bad Manners and Madness it was prime upbeat skanking material all the way.

With the audience a sea of bouncing red fezzes thanks to the always manic and energetic Chris Pearson, it wasn’t long before everyone was on the dance floor and both the band and audience were having a whale of a time.

Sons of the Desert

Sons of the Desert

The band themselves are something of an eccentric mix of performers that come together brilliantly and create a huge sound with a three-piece brass section and Andy Coleman on the organ bolstering the usual rock band line up for a real authentic two-tone sound.

There were many highlights in the set but for me Lit Up Fatty, Too Much Too Young and set closer Night Boat To Cairo were the standouts before it all went a bit chaotic in the encore with the entire audience joining the band on stage for a skank to bring one of the most energetic Sound nights yet to a close on a major high.

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Halloween rocks at The Tav – The Fermain Tavern – 29/10/16

SugarSlam on Halloween


For more than a decade The Fermain Tavern has been hosting a night of rock music on Halloween weekend and each year things have got more elaborate and, thanks to Noizemonkey, 2016 was no exception.

The Tav was decorated with a range of zombies, severed heads, cobwebs and more with walls of skulls surrounding the stage giving the whole thing a sense of a haunted ancient catacomb… with an electric chair in the corner just for the sake of it.

The live music kicked off with The Peppered Ant Legs playing what rumour suggests might be their last gig, but if so that didn’t seem to slow them down any as they launched into a duo of classic Black Sabbath songs that set the dark and spooky tone well. From there they did what they do best rocking their way through a set of hard rock classics spanning Led Zeppelin, AC/DC, Kiss and more.

The Peppered Ant Legs

The Peppered Ant Legs

While they’re never likely to the world on fire this was probably the best I’ve seen this line up of the band and it went down well with the slowly growing audience, most of whom were resplendent in a range of Halloween costumes.

Heavy metal newcomers Blacksmith made their Tav debut next as they told the tale of a humble blacksmith hunting a demon for the kind of reason that he would, all through the medium of metal.

It might sound ridiculous but the band’s relaxed stage manner and chatty nature between the songs makes it about as un-pofaced as conceptual power metal can be.

Combined with this is the fact that they have some great songs grown from mighty riffs that they delivered excellently and sounded huge.



On top of this bass player Iain Baxter’s screams are always impressive while Adam Powell was on relaxed form as frontman and it’s always good to see him show off his electric guitar skill when he’s more known for playing acoustic covers in the corner of pubs.

While past Halloween shows had often veered towards the heavier stuff, this year things were a little more on the lighter side, particularly as Honest Crooks took to the stage and almost instantly had the dancefloor full moving bodies.

With Burning At Both End‘s Guitarist Martyn Brown handling bass duties in the absence of Charlie Holmes the set had a slightly different feel with less backing vocals but this didn’t seem to affect things too much.

Honest Crooks

Martyn with Honest Crooks

A lack of kazoos (and man mountain Bobby Battle to play it) gave some of the ska numbers a more direct and punky feel, and it maybe wasn’t as slick as their recent shows, but on a night like this with a real party atmosphere it made for a fun and punchy set.

SugarSlam continued the party spirit as it was clear from the off that the impressively costumed quartet were rather well ‘lubricated’.

While it seemed they may be suffering from the 11 o’clock set curse at the start as it went on the dancefloor soon got busy as their tactic of playing their originals songs first before going into full party mood with a set of classic covers paid off.


Plumb and Ross of SugarSlam

With a somewhat impromptu ‘best dancer’ award given out, a highlight of the set came as the band made a point of celebrating their 25th birthday with a rendition of AC/DC’s Whole Lotta Rosie before a now customary run at Ace Of Spades in tribute to Lemmy brought the show to a close on a raucous and rowdy high that once again showed The Tav is the place to be to celebrate Halloween in rocking style.

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Punk Night at the Tav – The Fermain Tavern – 08/10/16

Short Was Found

Short Was Found

With five bands on the bill, one of whom was marking the release of their debut album and another was making their non-festival Guernsey debut, it was a busy night at The Fermain Tavern on Saturday 8th October 2016, celebrating punk rock in many forms.

First up was Silas The Assyrian Assassin who did exactly what we’ve come to expect armed with his acoustic guitar, an always impressive streak of cynical vitriol and some undeniably questionable jokes. As always the set came to life when Silas was playing off heckles from the audience, while his ability to ignore taboos and work this into songs is reminiscent of NoFX’s Fat Mike.

Silas The Assyrian Assassin

Silas The Assyrian Assassin

Silas’ best moments tonight came with his songs dealing with society and politics such as Trust Fund Anarchist and God Bless The Daily Mail and, while the set began to ramble by the end, it was a good start to proceedings – if you like that kind of thing.

Burning At Both Ends changed the atmosphere considerably with their brand of pop punk which was as solid and tight as they come – in fact their performance here made me wonder if it was maybe a bit too precise.

Despite this their songs are undeniably great examples of their style and, as the set went on, their energy increased, particularly following slower number What If Someday They’re Not There.

With this the audience began to get more invested and the energy began to flow both ways as in the best performances rounding off their set on a high and making a great case for picking up their newly released self-titled debut album.

Burning At Both Ends

Burning At Both Ends

From one extreme to the other, energy is never something that Jawbone have to worry about while precision seems to not really be something that matters to them so much, and tonight was no different as they ripped through a set of punk classics and originals in their usual, no frills, style.

Back to their full strength line up is when they are at their best and are one of the most fun bands playing in Guernsey today, and they proved this here.

Their original songs bring to mind a mix of NoFX, Rancid and Jersey punks Bulletproof as highlighted in what guitarist Lee described as ‘A love song between myself and the Tory government’.



Rounding the set off with The Ramones’ Bonzo Goes To Bitburg along with Silas on guest vocals marked an energetic and fun highlight and brought to mind punk gigs of years past with songs delivered in sloppy fashion but with real passion.

With the energy up Honest Crooks kept it going and continued the old punk gig spirit with their ska and reggae infused sound.

Particularly notable early in the set was bass player Cheese being handed increasing numbers of shirts and jackets and continuing to play despite his arms being largely immobile as he overheated under the stage lights.

Back to the music and it was exactly what we’ve come to expect from the trio with tight songs delivered with energy and fun designed to fill a dance floor – and that’s just what they did.

Honest Crooks

Honest Crooks with Lee and Dan

As the set went on they were joined by Lee from Jawbone for a particularly heartfelt take on Rancid’s Fall Back Down before his bandmate Dan joined them for kazoo and Bez like dancing duties on Gentlemen’s Dub Club’s High Grade.

With midnight fast approaching the atmosphere in The Tav dropped somewhat, as it tends to at this time, as people headed to town while Short Was Found were setting up. None the less the band launched into a loud and furious assault of a set mixing hardcore and metal with straight up punk rock.

Frontman James Pallot delivered with a forceful conviction as always and former Bulletproof rhythm duo Lee and Darren were tight as ever with Darren’s drumming speed and intensity particularly standing out.

Short Was Found

James of Short Was Found

As the set went on the small audience came and went and, while the thrashy guitar solos provided something of a diversion it was hard for the short sharp shock approach from the start of the set to not become a bit repetitive which combined with the lower energy in the room to make for a slightly disappointing climax, but this was far from the fault of the guys on stage giving it their all.

What tonight did prove though was that punk rock is as much a varied force to be reckoned now as it ever was and, while I might be a bit biased, it offers something for pretty much anyone from fun high energy danceable sounds to socio-political vitriol all in an uproarious musical package.

You can see more of my photos from the show on the BBC Introducing Guernsey Facebook page

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Sons of Cain album launch – The Fermain Tavern – 22/07/16

Sons of Cain

Sons of Cain

As anyone who follows music of any kind will know things come in waves with different sounds and styles ebbing and flowing and some trends becoming more popular than others, this is true even within the small scene in Guernsey.

So, when Sons of Cain appeared earlier in the year with grand plans for a heavy metal concept album and live show to go with it they stood out against the prevailing scene in the way that metal often has, for better or worse.

Arriving at The Fermain Tavern for the show there was an odd atmosphere to the place and ska-punks Honest Crooks seemed oddly nervous for a band with so many gigs under their belt. After a few festival shows it was great seeing the three-piece back up close and once they got going the nerves clearly vanished as they delivered their usual fun show.

Honest Crooks

Honest Crooks

Mixing up their now fairly well-worn set a bit provided some new dynamics but the crowd didn’t connect with it like they have at other gigs. Largely this was probably down to the fact that the trio stood out like a sore thumb when compared to the heavier bands making up the rest of the bill and the podium and pole set up in the middle of the dance floor didn’t really help either essentially blocking a chunk of the stage for the audience.

The reason for this podium was what came next as a quartet of agile and rhythmically gifted young ladies performed a set of pole dancing routines. While the dancers themselves performed some impressive things I couldn’t help but find this part of the night a little out-of-place and the concept as a whole somewhat dated.

The likes of Motörhead and Motley Crüe are known for their use of dancers during their performances but none of the bands on offer tonight fit that style, though it was nice to hear some Sisters of Mercy played loud through the PA for one of the routines…

'Soloman Cain' of Sons of Cain

‘Soloman Cain’

Positioning themselves in the middle of the show, rather than headlining, felt like an odd choice for Sons of Cain but the crowd headed forward in anticipation as the trio took to the stage.

While the rhythm section of Keith (drums) and Joe (bass) had gone to a small effort to fit the conceptual metal vibe, visually it was frontman Vinny who’d gone all out as his alter ego ‘Soloman Cain’ (isn’t there a comic book character called that?) in an abundance of black leather, make up, white contact lenses and a pair of elaborate, black angel’s wings.

Unfortunately one band member in costume doesn’t guarantee a good show and, while they thrashed their way through the songs Sons of Cain largely failed to connect with the audience who, a few songs in, drifted from the dancefloor.

Occasionally joined by former Stone Em All axeman Lee the band did have some nice moments, particularly when they got into some classic thrash style passages, but as a complete package it all fell somewhat flat in a plodding retread of the kind of thing Dio was doing nearly forty years ago. None of this was helped by a sound mix that saw the guitars lost in the general murk and the pole dancers clearing their equipment away on the dancefloor midway through the set.

While it’s always good to see a band try something different, here Sons of Cain fell the wrong side of power metal ridiculousness and it was hard to tell if they were taking it all a bit too seriously or were just out to have some slightly silly fun.

Lord Vapour

Lord Vapour

With the dance floor now clear of poles and podiums Lord Vapour launched into their set in punishingly loud fashion. As they worked their way through the first track the crowd returned from wherever they’d been hiding and the band shimmied into their loose grooves as they always do.

While I will admit to having grown a little tired of Lord Vapour’s extended jams there’s no doubting they are well delivered and have gained them a dedicated following and they were in the midst of a prime example of that as I slipped out into the night after one of the most unusual night’s I’ve experienced at ‘The Tav’ in quite some time.

See my full gallery of photos from the show on the BBC Introducing Facebook page

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Sound Guernsey Christmas Party – The Venue – 21/12/15

Asylum Seekas

Asylum Seekas

With their second event due to fall on Christmas Day, Sound Guernsey moved the show to the preceding Monday and dubbed it their Christmas Party.

As the target age group had all just finished school for the festive holidays, a Monday was as good a night as any and quite a few tickets had been sold before doors opened and a reasonable crowd was there from the start – albeit spread around the main room, front bar, side room and balcony.

Having gained something of a reputation for his performances over the past year Toby Falla kicked off the show with his Ed Sheeran guitar, loop station and tandem mic set up. Technically what Falla did was astonishing, layering up loops of guitar, percussion and vocals to create an amazingly deep range of sounds and all in perfect sync. Despite, or possibly due, to all of the technical wizardry though, Falla’s performance lacked a certain emotional connection making for something impressive but ultimately hollow.

Toby Falla

Toby Falla

That said a few moments stood out where everything fell into place, including a section of Eminen’s Lose Yourself and when he let go a little on the final track after putting down his guitar and rapped over the previously layered loops.

As was to become something of a default setting for the night the youngsters in the audience all seemed to appreciate and enjoy the performance but from a polite distance.

After some choice punk, reggae and ska sounds from the evening’s DJ, Vale Earth Fair Collective member Rob Roussel, Rentoclean took to the stage. From the start were far tighter than I have seen them in a while, and certainly far more so that a couple of night’s earlier at the Vale Earth Fair Christmas party.

While the songs were the bouncy, energetic, reggae-punk we have come to expect, the lack of their usual chat between songs made the set feel a little disjointed – though, having spoken to the band backstage, this was largely down to their fear of saying anything too inappropriate for young ears. Certainly this was admirable but it did mean something of the band was missing from the show.

Dan from Rentoclean

Dan from Rentoclean

Once again the audience was appreciative but distant, with most preferring to listen from seats near the back or the seclusion of the small room to the side of the stage.

It was at this point that it struck me the reason for this may be fairly simple and that, for many, this would be their first chance to experience music like this, not just live but at all, as Rentoclean are about as far from standard pop radio fare as you can get. Maybe I’m doing the audience a disservice but that is how it felt, so it is great that they are now getting the chance to hear and feel this music played live.

For this, rather different, show headliners Asylum Seekas did something a bit different to start their set. With DJ Mini-Rol in place behind the decks Apex and Jimi Riddlz invited some guests to take the stage.

First was Atari, making his live public debut. He delivered two tracks packed with solid, speedy MCing and, despite clearly being nervous nailed it. Though he had little direct connection with the audience (who had come forward following the Seekas encouragement) for a first outing this was strong and showed promise of Guernsey’s hip-hop scene having some new talent on the way up.

Devilish & Doyle

Devilish & Doyle

Added to this ‘new blood’ was the duo of Devilish & Doyle who put in a more developed performance than Atari, somewhat aping the back and forth rapport of their hosts.

Both delivered their raps tightly over well-constructed beats and offered a little more in terms of ‘performance’ and I hope all three will be able to showcase their abilities to a wider audience at The Get Down or similar events in the future.

From the newcomers to Asylum Seekas the difference was evident and served to show just how much talent this trio has. With a lot of new sounding material they combined wit and rhyme with excellent balance as the seemingly permanently wired Jimi Riddlz jittered his way through his parts in his trademark style while Apex added a more grounded and humorous energy the show.

The two MCs may have slightly censored some of their stronger material but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t still as edgy as ever. With slightly deeper grooves from Mini-Rol’s DJing in places the set hinted at a slightly new direction and the MCs managed to get the crowd to join in with a few call and response elements.

Asylum Seekas

Asylum Seekas

While the audience as a whole remained only quietly appreciative the trio did what they do excellently and showed quite how professional they can be – delivering, despite the muted response, to round the night off strongly.

Following the set it was clear they’d struck a chord with quite a few of the youngsters present as they were mobbed for the download cards they were offering for their latest album, showing how the youngsters attending Sound Guernsey events are really looking to discover something new and different.

You can see more photos from the show on the BBC Introducing Guernsey Facebook page.

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Asylum Seekas album launch with Rentoclean – The Fermain Tavern – 27/12/14

Asylum Seekas - Jimi-Riddlz and Apex

Jimi-Riddlz and Apex of Asylum Seekas

On the last weekend of 2014 Guernsey hip hop group Asylum Seekas rounded off a massive year by launching their new album Intrepid Levels at a special The Get Down event.

Over 2014 Asylum Seekas supported several major visiting acts, including Chali 2NA, The Mouse Outfit and Bizarre Ride 2 The Pharcyde as part of DJ Oneofakind‘s The Get Down, so it was only fitting that they host the launch of Asylum Seekas latest record.

Support on the night came from a selection of hip hop, funk and reggae DJs and reggae-ska-punkers, Rentoclean.

You can see a full gallery of my photos from the show on the BBC Introducing Facebook page and my review was published in The Guernsey Press on Saturday 3rd January 2015:

Asylum Seekas and Rentoclean review scan - 03:01:15

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Rancid – …Honor Is All We Know

Rancid - ...Honor Is All We KnowWith all the side projects put aside, Bay Area punks Rancid are back with their first album since Let The Dominoes Fall in 2009, their eighth in total, and seem to be at once turning back the clock yet still moving forward on …Honor Is All We Know.

While I’d be hard pressed to say that Rancid have made any bad albums, certainly Dominoes felt like a band going through a motions and, since 1995’s …And Out Come The Wolves, they’ve been constantly trying to live up to expectation on record (though from my experience their live show certainly has lived up to everything).

…Honor Is All We Know combines the closest to the energy and variety that was present on their undisputed classic, yet the band sound like an older, wiser, but nonetheless passionate, Rancid for 2014.

At the front of the band Tim Armstrong is, as ever, all loose slurred vocals and matching guitars, while Lars Frederiksen brings the more hardcore and Oi tinged vibes both vocally and on his SG. Meanwhile, Matt Freeman is once more a master of dancing around the fretboard of his bass and relative newcomer Branden Steineckert (this is his second album with the band though he’s been behind the kit with them for a good 8 or 9 years) sounds like he’s been on the drums with them forever.

RancidFrom the off the album is packed with songs destined to become live sing-along favourites and, while in some hands some of the lyrics, including the album’s title track, could sound trite, coming from Rancid they are utterly convincing (and being back on Epitaph and Hellcat Records certainly adds some power to that after their brief stint sort of on a major).

My highlights of the album are the triumvirate of Collision Course, Evil’s My Friend and Honor Is All We Know which combine all the best of what Rancid have always done; catchy, dancey, passionate, high-energy punk rock with hints of ska, rock ‘n’ roll and hardcore laced into their DNA.

In the end, while it’s no …And Out Come The Wolves (I doubt anything ever will be), …Honor Is All We Know sits up there with Let’s Go and Indestructible as arguable close seconds and shows a band showing no signs of slowing down despite heading towards the point where some bands have trouble even putting together a single consistent song.

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Chaos presents [Spunge], Insurrection and Last of the Light Brigade – Fermain Tavern – 30/11/13

SpungeGreenman MCC, the guys behind the annual Chaos festival, organised a show on Saturday 30th November 2013 featuring the return to the island of regular Chaos visitors, ska-punks, [Spunge] alongside Guernsey acts Insurrection and Last of the Light Brigade.

[Spunge] have become regulars at the festival and headlined the closing night of this years event, but this was their first time playing a smaller venue on the island and the crowd were certainly eager to see them in these more ‘intimate’ surroundings of The Fermain Tavern.

You can see a full gallery of my photos from the show on the BBC Introducing Guernsey Facebook page and here is my review of the show which was published in the Guernsey Press on Saturday 7th December 2013:

Spunge, Insurrection, Last of the Light Brigade scan - 7:12:13Elliott from Guernsey Gigs was also on hand and got some videos of the show:

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Inner Terrestrials, Insurrection and Shambollix – The Fermain Tavern – 15/06/12

Inner Terrestrials – Photo by Tom Girard, courtesy BBC Guernsey

A night of varied punk upholds the Earth Fair spirit and purpose and provides some great sounds despite the less than stellar turnout.

Check out my photos of the show on the BBC Introducing Guernsey Facebook page.

After a busy couple of weeks at The Fermain Tavern it seemed things might be returning to how they were a few months ago as Alderney’s Shambollix took to the stage to start tonight’s Vale Earth Fair fundraiser in front of a crowd of certainly no more than 20 people.

Despite this Derrick and Helen, who may be familiar to some as half of Rawcuz Crowzz, gave the set their all mixing the ‘blues’ of the ‘Thames Delta’ (inspired by the likes of Dr Feelgood) with the spirit of the pub rock and punk scenes of the mid 1970s.

Playing a selection of original songs, some of which were familiar from the Crowzz and others new to this band, they put in a performance which was much more together than when I had previously seen them play (under the name Crash ‘n’ Slide) and at times got heads nodding in appreciation of the stripped down lo-fi DIY approach the duo displayed.

Their sound came across like White Stripes if they were a pub rock act with the true spirit of making the most of what you have to make the kind of music you want to make.

As Guernsey’s own original hardcore punks Insurrection took to the stage a few more had made their way into the venue and, though the crowd was still small, it had added enough to the atmosphere in the Tavern to give the gig a good feeling.

Insurrection – Photo by Tom Girard, courtesy BBC Guernsey

With their second gig in as many months (prompting frontman Mark Le Page to comment, “Twice in one year!”) Insurrection came across much more intense and tight from the start tonight.

With the same mix of songs from their 1989 self-titled album and a couple of new numbers that we heard last time they played (when supporting Peter and the Test Tube Babies) the band tonight seemed more relaxed with Jon Langlois’ mix of classic buzzsaw style punk guitar and heavier playing working well alongside Mark’s vocals which keep the hardcore spirit alive while also clearly infused with elements of the darker metal sounds he has made since Insurrection first disbanded.

Once again I was left hoping that this isn’t the last we see of Insurrection this year as they are something different to anyone else in music in Guernsey today and always seem to get the crowd going.

Finally tonight it was London’s Inner Terrestrials’ turn to take to the stage.

As my personal highlight of last year’s Vale Earth Fair I was greatly looking forward to their punk-ska sounds and sociopolitical lyrics and from the start they didn’t disappoint and it didn’t take long for some of the small but enthusiastic crowd to get the dancefloor skanking.

Despite a slight lull in the middle of the set, Inner Terrestrials played a great show tonight, though it was clear at points the small crowd was making it hard for the band to play off the energy in the room in the way they had done one the Earth Fair’s main stage last summer.

Once again the Vale Earth Fair tonight presented a night of great music which had a real sense of some of the things the Collective stands for and, while many missed out on a great night, for those of us in attendance we got to experience a top underground UK punk band.

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