The Buff Medways, Pleasure Unit, London

"To decide against your convictions is to be an unqualified and inexcusable traitor, both to yourself and to your country," wrote Mark Twain in Papers of the Adams Family. This sentiment sums up the ethos of another ritzily moustached patriot, "Wild" Billy Childish, who was on manoeuvres in Bethnal Green on New Year's Day with The Buff Medways, his small but tightly drilled platoon of reservist punk rockers. A totemic English eccentric, the 45-year-old musician, painter, poet and novelist is most famous for his ongoing spat with former lover Tracey Emin, his founding of the anti-Britart "Stuckist" movement and the regard in which he is held by a roll-call of rock and pop stars, including Kurt Cobain, The White Stripes, Andy Weatherall, Cornershop, P J Harvey and REM. His autobiographical novel, My Fault, is also an ongoing filmic work-in-progress for Kids director Larry Clark.

The Libertines' penchant for Crimean war uniforms, Estuary English Chas'n'Dave humour and shambolic saloon-bar confessionals can also be found in Childish's oeuvre.

2005 sees Childish adding to his body of 100-plus albums. One is of original songs, entitled Medway Wheelers, released on Graham Coxon's Transcopic label, and the other, The Genius of Billy Childish, has been culled from gigs performed between 1984 and 1993 with his two former bands, Thee Milkshakes and Thee Headcoats. This year also sees the publication of his third novel, Sex Crimes of the Futcher, a torrid account of the relationship between a painter, William Loveday, and Karima, a dark-haired fashion student from Margate - also described as "the Troll" - which may or may not be based on Childish's five-year romance with Emin, whom Childish met at Medway College of Art and Design, where she was studying fashion. A collectable painter in his own right, he has previously lambasted Emin as a "media whore", describing her artistic output as "shit". Emin, in turn, has threatened to bring in the lawyers if her name ever appears in any of his work.

But this performance is less about ire than about fun, as that fabulous walrus moustache hoves into view. The Kitchener-approved First World War apparel and the racket coming from the vintage equipment on the two openers - the Kinks' "Misty Water" and The Who-ish "Troubled Mind", from 2002's Steady the Buffs - recall Wilfred Owen's lines about "the monstrous anger of the guns... the stuttering rifles' rapid rattle". Drummer Wolf Howard is here disappointingly sans his trademark pickelhaube, but his drumming is louder than a self-propelled Howitzer.

The rough but thrilling awkwardness of the delivery, complete with the manly Cock-er-ney banter, is indeed "buff", as in deliberately amateurish and naked as Adam. It's the Buzzcocks in their birthday suits on the punky R&B of "Unable to See the Good" and "Nurse Julie" - from the last album, 1914 - and "You're Looking Fine", from Thee Headcoats' Headcoats Down!. Like a lusty general charging the Hun, Childish also tears through classics, such as Jimi Hendrix's "Fire", and ends with some Link Wray-style surfabilly that wouldn't sound out of place on Kill Bill Vol 3.

The star of the show, though, is that moustache - the kind that should have its own carriages and length of track. What a shame he turned down £20,000 to appear in Celebrity Big Brother.

Arts and Entertainment
Rachel McAdams in True Detective season 2

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Off the wall: the cast of ‘Life in Squares’

Arts and Entertainment

Books And it is whizzpopping!

Arts and Entertainment
Bono throws water at the crowd while the Edge watches as they perform in the band's first concert of their new world tour in Vancouver

MusicThey're running their own restaurants

The main entrance to the BBC headquarters in London
TV & Radio
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Solved after 200 years: the mysterious deaths of 3,000 soldiers from Napoleon's army

    Solved after 200 years

    The mysterious deaths of 3,000 soldiers from Napoleon's army
    Every regional power has betrayed the Kurds so Turkish bombing is no surprise

    Robert Fisk on the Turkey conflict

    Every regional power has betrayed the Kurds so Turkish bombing is no surprise
    Investigation into wreck of unidentified submarine found off the coast of Sweden

    Sunken sub

    Investigation underway into wreck of an unidentified submarine found off the coast of Sweden
    Instagram and Facebook have 'totally changed' the way people buy clothes

    Age of the selfie

    Instagram and Facebook have 'totally changed' the way people buy clothes
    Not so square: How BBC's Bloomsbury saga is sexing up the period drama

    Not so square

    How Virginia Woolf saga is sexing up the BBC period drama
    Rio Olympics 2016: The seven teenagers still carrying a torch for our Games hopes

    Still carrying the torch

    The seven teenagers given our Olympic hopes
    The West likes to think that 'civilisation' will defeat Isis, but history suggests otherwise

    The West likes to think that 'civilisation' will defeat Isis...

    ...but history suggests otherwise
    The bald truth: How one author's thinning hair made him a Wayne Rooney sympathiser

    The bald truth

    How thinning hair made me a Wayne Rooney sympathiser
    Froome wins second Tour de France after triumphant ride into Paris with Team Sky

    Tour de France 2015

    Froome rides into Paris to win historic second Tour
    Fifteen years ago, Concorde crashed, and a dream died. Today, the desire to travel faster than the speed of sound is growing once again

    A new beginning for supersonic flight?

    Concorde's successors are in the works 15 years on from the Paris crash
    I would never quit Labour, says Liz Kendall

    I would never quit party, says Liz Kendall

    Latest on the Labour leadership contest
    Froome seals second Tour de France victory

    Never mind Pinot, it’s bubbly for Froome

    Second Tour de France victory all but sealed
    Oh really? How the 'lowest form of wit' makes people brighter and more creative

    The uses of sarcasm

    'Lowest form of wit' actually makes people brighter and more creative
    A magazine editor with no vanity, and lots of flair

    No vanity, but lots of flair

    A tribute to the magazine editor Ingrid Sischy
    Foraging: How the British rediscovered their taste for chasing after wild food

    In praise of foraging

    How the British rediscovered their taste for wild food