Monday, 15 September 2014

30/11/2013 Girlschool @ The Garage

It's down to Islington for a night of NWOBHM at The Garage. Well not quite - I missed the opening act Harmonic Generator and when co-headliners Raven were on I was in the pub as I refuse to be ripped off by the venues outrageous bar prices: Wetherspoons 5 - Garage 0. Sorry guys - if the venue wasn't so greedy there would have been more people watching your set...

It's not often Girlschool play in their home town of London these days so I didn't want to miss this gig - and I'm glad I didn't. The band were in high spirits and on good form, kicking off with 'Demolition Boys' from their first album. This is a band who have always been great fun live - very down to earth, with no airs & graces or rock star bullshit. They have a genuine repartee with the audience and create a great atmosphere - ensuring everyone has a good time! Frontgal Kim McAuliffe is very at ease with the crowd and shares much banter with them - making everyone feel like old mates.
Most of the setlist is taken from the band's first two albums, although the title track from the third album 'Screaming Blue Murder' gets a welcome airing. Girlschool have a rich back catalogue to draw from, and even if they leave out anything from the middle years when they had a singer who didn't play guitar and made some less than classic albums - there are more than enough great songs to fill tonight's setlist - they don't even play anything from their excellent 'Play Dirty' album and there was some great stuff on that. However, they are no low points in tonight's performance. The pace only slows briefly with the brooding, very different and somewhat disturbing 'Future Flash', but then hits us with the very in-your-face 'Kick It Down' and one of the band's hardest sounding riffs! 'Yeah Right' reminds us how much fun this band can be with it's "...and don't drink too much" - 'YEAH ALRIGHT!' refrain. Sole cover of the night is the band's terrific re-working of the Gun song 'Race With The Devil' - with late and much missed guitarist Kelly Johnson showing how good she really  was on the version on the 'Demolition' album. Current lead guitarist Jackie Chambers really nails the song tonight.
The set isn't all trading on past glories as a couple of songs from Girlschool's most recent albums 'Believe' and 'Legacy' are also played - demonstrating that the band are still capable of making quality hard rock music. There are no soppy love songs and no ballads played tonight - just good honest hard rock still played with passion and enthusiasm.after all these years. The girls are still obviously having fun and enjoying themselves playing music they love. And they play it pretty damn well too - drummer Denise Dufort is probably the fastest and most powerful lady you will ever see behind a drum kit.
Last time the band played at this venue it was virtually sold out. Tonight it is probably only a little over half full - largely I suspect due to a woeful lack of promotion by the band's German based management - this gig is in the Capital city and the main show of the tour, but the management haven't even bothered to put the date on their band website (not this one which is actually a much better source of information) even though they have listed some of the other tour dates - WTF? The problem of recent years still remains - although there is still a hardcore of the band's old 'Barmy Army' fans at the gigs, due to lack of interest or promotion in the UK by the band's German based management even when the band have a new album out many of Girlschool's original fans are not even aware the band are still gigging or recording - in spite of them playing plenty of international festivals every year. It's a shame as Girlschool are still a really good live band with loads of great songs old and new - as anyone who was at this gig will testify!

It seems all too soon the band are finishing their set with rousing crowd pleaser 'Emergency' (a song the mighty Motörhead thought good enough to cover) and it's time to go home. Or back to the pub. Then after the crowd demand it they are back (with a couple of guys from Raven) for an encore of 'Take It All Away'. And then as it's far too early to go home it really is back to the pub...

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