As the saying goes, “old punks never die” – or at least never lose their subversive spirit. The Cravats added weight to the theory with a high-octane, dynamic and at times surreal album launch show in Brighton.

One of frontman The Shend’s first lines on that record, Dustbin of Sound – the band’s first in 37 years – is “I am absurd”. Nobody at the Green Door Store was in any doubt that the singer, who bares passing resemblance to latter-day Orson Welles, is a thoroughly unorthodox stage presence. His rambling monologues between songs fitted his band’s music, which sometimes veers into the sinister but is never far from the cartoonish.

The chorus of “Hang Them, Shoot Them, Electrocute Them”, on Hang Them is an example of the former, but elsewhere The Shend can be heard delivering nonsensical streams-of-consciousness: “Hedgehog man later reported that he was the first sandwich killed in Waitrose/Crocodiles are Heathens but they all own yachts” goes album closer All U Bish Dumpers.

Pleasingly, The Cravats mostly avoid the self-seriousness that often characterises punk bands from a certain era (they formed in 1977, the year of the great punk explosion in the UK). The searing double hit of King of Walking Away and Batterhouse was a highlight of the set, guitarist Viscount Biscuits’ punchy, menacing power chords complimenting Joe 91’s fleet-fingered basslines.

It is easy to see why The Cravats were favourites of legendary DJ John Peel back in the 1970s, even if just two members from those days are still in the group now; The Shend and Svor Naan. The latter’s saxophone notes added a stimulating dimension to the band’s sound at the Green Door Store.

Almost four decades after their formation The Cravats are still respected by figures in the alternative music industry, including BBC 6 Music DJ Marc Riley, who knows a thing or two about rock and roll. The band played a session on Riley’s show last month, which will surely have introduced The Cravats’ music to a whole new generation.

Any new attention would be fully warranted for a band who gleefully subvert punk from the inside.