Sunday, 30 March 2014

10/11/2007 Zen Motel @ the Purple Turtle

SubjectZen Motel @ the Purple Turtle

Another night I'd been looking forward to at the Purple Turtle, although tonight's bill didn't turn out quite as I was expecting...

I'd been looking forward to seeing Dollar-Sent for a while after being told I would like their Motörhead/Wildhearts inspired sound. I've got to say they didn't do it for me at all tonight. They have plenty of attitude and an agressive sound, but that's not enough on it's own. The singer looks and sounds like he actually want's to be Ginger of the Wildhearts. This is all very well, but unfortunately I found this band lacking in actual tunes, and not impressive in vocal delivery either.
They just bludgeoned their way though their set failing to leave any songs likely to stick in your head. Rather disappointing I'm afraid. Sorry guys.

Next up was the surprise of the night. Dead Identities were new to me, although I immediately noticed their frontman looked very familiar. I'd seen him on the very same stage only a week before playing 2nd guitar with Kitty Hudson - now here he is fronting his own band. And rather good they are too - fast and tuneful power/pop/punk.
Singer Keef's choice of Disarm T-shirt is fitting as fans of that band are likely to find Dead Identities to their liking too. This was good stuff and certainly made up for tonight's opening act.

Zen Motel don't seem to do bad shows. It's great to see them headlining this Camden venue after a few support slots here. There aren't many bands on this circuit with as many good songs as this lot. Their gigs are always energetic and you can tell they totally believe in what they are doing.
There are plenty of bands playing in London who reckon they are really 'sleazy' - but Zen Motel manage to be dark, twisted, and very sleazy without falling into all the tired old cliches the other bands fall into.  This band have a strong sound and identity of their own - without dressing up like 80's LA 'rock stars' and looking and sounding like all the other clone 'sleaze' bands. Zen Motel are an uncompromising band who manage to stand out from the crowd.

3/11/2007 Kill Cartel @ Nambucca

SubjectKill Cartel @ Nambucca

Back down the well worn path to Holloway Road - I seem to have been there far more than Camden over the past few weeks. This time the venue is Nambucca to see Kill Cartel. This is the new band that has risen phoenix like from the ashes of the Roolettes. After much musical chairs (and drum stools) with various members passing through the band it has now evolved into Kill Cartel.
This new incarnation of the band is faster, tighter, harder, and meaner - a significant step forward.
The style is now less punk rock and more hard rock - the rough edges have been sanded down to produce a leaner more streamlined rock machine. An extra guitarist adds punch and dynamics.
This is effectively an all new band with brand new songs, and they mean business!

There were a couple of other bands on after, but the next band looked to have lots of teenage indie-pop type fans and the signs weren't good. I decided to head for the Intrepid Fox and maybe Decadence later. After an hour in the Intrepid Fox following some beers in Nambucca I realised that if I went on to Decadence things were likely to get very messy!  In spite of a fair maiden of my aquaintance and her efforts to persuade me to go to the club, I declined and stayed in The Fox until I had to abandon ship to catch the last tube around 12.30. Probably a wise decision. For once....
PS: Nambucca closed in early 2014.

31/10/2007 Huckster Club @ the Water Rats

SubjectHuckster Club @ the Water Rats

It's Halloween, and somehow I find myself at the Huckster Club @ the Water Rats in Kings Cross.  I haven't heard of most the bands playing (The All New Adventures Of Us, Touriste, Mr Fogg & Lights and Sounds) but the place is really full! Marsha from Xfm is involved with the club which no doubt helps fill the place up. The bands are a bit too 'indie' for me, although as we leave the band playing (Touriste I think) have started to liven up and actually rock a bit. As I have by now been out at gigs five nights in a row, going home early would seem the sensible option. However, I don't seem to do 'sensible' when it comes to things like going home - I end up at Big Red until 12.30. I feebly justify this by saying that as it's in Holloway Road it's on the way home - which it is. The beer is to my liking and the company is good so I don't care - even if I have to be up for work around six in the morning. I resolve to stay in every night until Sunday - when I will once again be in Holloway Road...
PS: I really can't remember why I went to this gig as there weren't any bands playing that I knew or liked.

30/10/2007 Big Num @ the Pleasure Unit

SubjectBig Num @ the Pleasure Unit

The Pleasure Unit in Bethnal Green is a dump. This shabby venue has to have one of the worst bars in London - and it's getting worse every time I visit. In spite of it presenting itself as a 'club' it's really just a pub venue, and rather a poor one at that.  There is no draught beer of any sort. At least they used to stock Newcastle Brown, then on my last visit I drunk the last bottle and they don't seem to have bothered restocking - I'm not sure if I can be bothered going there again. The beer choice tonight is cans of either Guinnness or Carling - nothing else. It's like they just don't care if anyone goes there or not. 

In spite of the less than welcoming venue, there is quite a respectable turnout to see some unknown bands in an East End toilet venue on a Tuesday night. Unfortunately, most of them leave as soon as the band they've come to see has finished playing. I can't say I blame them really as the place is such a dive.  No pictures tonight - the stage lighting (or lack of) is so poor in this venue that my cheapo camera's autofocus won't work. 

As I arrive there is a band playing who seem to want to be the Libertines. They are terrible. If you are going to try and emulate another band, you might try to pick one who could play better than that - hardly something to aspire to... Still, maybe it's their first band - or first gig even, and everyone has to start somewhere. If I'd seen my first band (or most of them even) I'd probably have thought they were rubbish too so... The next band aren't much better, but they seem to get going a bit as they warm up towards the end of their set and play a song which sounds a lot like 'Guns Of Brixton'.

Big Num are excellent as usual, although they play a disappointingly short headline set. Even in a venue like this they still manage to get a great sound. I notice that unlike nearly all other bands, they are no effects pedals at all on the stage - I think this is part of the secret to them always getting a great sound.  You don't hear the Young brothers in AC/DC playing though loads of effects on their classic albums - if you have top quality guitars and amps (Gibson/Fender/Marshall in this case) and know how to use them, you simply don't need any effects to get a great sound. These boys emulate AC/DC not just in their classic sound, but also by having not two, but three brothers in the band. This might be also part of the reason (again like AC/DC) that they sound really tight.  There are other influences apart from the Australian band in Big Num's sound - shades of Led Zeppelin, The Darkness, and Thin Lizzy can also be detected. Add those influences to some excellent songwriting and you have a great band - one I seriously believe could go a long way with the right breaks. In spite of the other bands and the shabby venue, Big Num made it worth the trip down to Bethnal Green on a Tuesday night.

29/10/2007 Kitty Hudson, Teenage Casket Company & The Erotics @ the Purple Turtle

SubjectKitty Hudson, Teenage Casket Company & The Erotics @ the Purple Turtle

This Pure Rawk night gets off to a very disappointing start with the news that Vamps 'N' Gypsies have cancelled due to illness. A shame as I was really looking forward to seeing them at this venue again.  Still, it's well worth the trip as I'd have been there to see either Kitty Hudson or Teenage Casket Company even if they were the only band playing. 

Kitty Hudson hit the stage first in a ball of punk fuelled rock 'n' roll energy. 
I always enjoy their sets as they have so many good songs, and they didn't even play all their best ones tonight - I particularly missed 'What It's Like'.
Always good to hear a Johnny Thunders cover though - Richie told me there could be another added to the band's repertoire soon...
It's good to see this band playing more regularly north of the river this year as well as their regular gigs in south London.

Teenage Casket Company hit the ground running in their patent 'punk rock Bon Jovi' style - it's much better than it sounds believe me! 
As well as a bunch of strong songs they bring their 'Big Rock Show' and are always good fun - one of those bands who go all out to entertain you.
This is a band who are always determined to give every crowd maximum value for money, and even if they are playing in a Camden club they perform like they are headlining a stadium rock show. 
The band are tight and on good form as they are on a UK tour with the Erotics at the moment - and this band just love being out on the road.

Headliners The Erotics are new to me, although this isn't the first time they have flown over from their native USA to tour the UK.
I don't quite get them to be honest - they are OK and play well enough - it's the sort of music I normally like, but they really don't strike me as anything special. They aren't bad or anything, but it all seems a bit generic and they don't stand out at all from 50 other similar bands I have seen in Camden over the past couple of years. Maybe I'm missing something? Plenty of other people seemed to like them anyway - what do I know?
I expect if they hadn't just had to follow Kitty Hudson and TCC they would have seemed a lot better - probably lucky for the Erotics that Vamps 'N' Gypsies didn't play too. Sorry, but just 'cos a band comes from the USA or Scandinavia doesn't make them anything special in my book - we have plenty of home grown talent. There is nothing actually wrong with The Erotics and I have respect for them making the effort to come over here and that can't be easy, but I was somehow expecting something more. To be fair, I don't know any of their songs and I'm quite familiar with many of the songs the previous two bands played. Maybe I'm just becoming a typical jaded London gig-goer - I dunno... The Erotics did have a guitarist standing on one of the PA stacks though - and I love all that stuff!

Saturday, 29 March 2014

28/10/2007 - Part 2. Obsessive Compulsive @ the Old King's Head

SubjectObsessive Compulsive @ the Old King's Head

Soon after In So Far finish their set at the Barfly I have to depart for my second gig of the night - ironically, it's at the last venue I saw In So Far play. My well planned but simple route soon proves to be not so well planned after all when I discover Holloway Road tube station is shut.  I am forced to alight a stop early at Caledonian Road, but find it's only a short distance further to walk to my destination in Holloway Road. I arrive at the Old King's Head to find I am still in plenty of time.

It's taken me some time to get round to seeing Obsessive Compulsive. I think they sent me an 'add' request a year or so ago - which I never got round to checking out - it faded away down the list with all the other many 'random' band requests that I never get time to check out.

Note to bands: don't bother sending me add requests if I don't already know you. I don't usually deliberately 'deny' bands - I just don't get time to look at their profiles as there as so many and they often take ages to load as they have too many videos, slideshows, Maceys spam comments, and spam pics and videos from other bands. If I don't add you it's not because I'm being deliberately rude and ignoring you or I think your band is shit (although that might actually be the reason). I very rarely even look at band profiles after they send me add requests - let alone actually add them. Their 'add' requests just sit with all the others and slide down the list until they fade away - I think MySpace deletes them after 2 or 3 weeks...

Anyway, this is what happened with Obsessive Compulsive and I forgot about them without ever even looking at their profile. Then I was listening to one of the recent free CDs which came with the excellent Bubblegum Slut fanzine. There is a reason most of the bands on such free sampler CDs get no further, but there are always a few songs on them which stand out. One of them on this CD sounded rather good - a decent song and a girl singer who could actuallysing. I looked at the notes to see who it was? Yes, it was Obsessive Compulsive and the song was 'Dying Dying Dead'. The band name sounded familiar, but I thought no more of it until the following week when I was in one of my regular haunts and noticed a poster on the toilet wall proclaiming that Obsessive Compulsive would be playing there very soon. So I find myself at the Old King's Head catching the band on their Halloween Tour.
It was worth rushing from the Barfly for - a good heavy riff based sound, good players who were obviously well into what they were doing, and some decent songs - decent enough to make me buy a CD after. It's good to know that Manchester can still produce good rock music in these days when people only connect Oasis with that city.
There's probably some Wildhearts amongst the other influences in their sound - heavy, but with some actual tunes in there too - which makes them stand out from other more metal influenced bands. Certainly well worth checking out - good enough to make me buy a CD from a band for the second time tonight.

PS: This pub was starting to turn into a nice little rock venue and was taken over to become 'The Gaff Club'. For a couple of years it was a great little venue putting on some terrific shows and won a Pure Rawk award. Then it closed at short notice and became a Costa Coffee bar. No other venue has since filled that void in the area, although Nambucca further up Holloway Road came close for a while...

28/10/2007 - Part1. In So Far @ the Barfly

SubjectIn So Far @ the Barfly

Another gig clash this Sunday night, but the venues aren't too far apart and the band's stage times make seeing both bands viable.

First port of call is the Barfly to see In So Far. I haven't been to this venue recently - I used to be at the Barfly all the time, but it seems to book almost exclusively indie/NME type bands now so there hasn't been much reason for me to attend - a shame as it's one of Camden's better venues. In So Far are very much NOT an indie band, and in their latest incarnation they rock harder than ever.
The band are playing tighter and harder than I have ever seen them before, and in this better known venue they are really going for it.
This is a band I have seen constantly evolving over the past couple of years or so with several lineup changes, but they are now better than ever. Their new 'Medicine For The Melancholic' CD is rather good too - don't be confused by the 'emo' sounding title or the slightly 'emo' sounding singer - this band rock much harder than that and this Barfly gig is a minor triumph.

I don't have time to hang around after In So Far finish their rocking set - just time to buy their new CD and I have to hot-foot it to Holloway Road to catch another band...

27/10/2007 CliveAid @ Bar Monsta

SubjectCliveAid @ Bar Monsta

I didn't arrive at Bar Monsta in time to see the almost omnipresent King Lizard. Spiral Dive were playing when I got there - they were METAL, but less than memorable. Good musicians who have mastered the (not very difficult) art of being LOUD and HEAVY, but like most bands of their type these days have yet to master the more difficult art of writing good songs. 

Next up were the most interesting band of the event - the Conspirators. This was the most unlikely band of the evening as they were certainly not a metal band of any description, but they did have some decent songs - as well as a violin (electric) and horn player - plus a Halloween theme.
They also had Robin Guy on drums - so they were always going to be worth watching! Unlike the previous band, this lot make a real effort to entertain the audience, rather than just show how loud and heavy they could sound. Needless to say, they also had the best drummer by far of any of the bands on the bill.

Clive Burr, the man the whole event was in aid of was present, and there was a ceremony to present him with a cheque for £2500 raised by his supporter's past efforts. Hopefully, a fair bit more was raised at this show to help him in his continuing battle with MS.

Beholder took to the stage next - unlike the previous bands they didn't make the effort to write decent songs and stuck to metal covers instead. Again, they were good musicians but didn't do much to keep my interest.  They went down well with quite a few people though - more due to their choice of covers than being a great band in my humble opinion. Rather less humble than my opinion was their singer, who soon started to get on my nerves with his standard 'metal frontman by numbers' patter, dumbed down lowest common denominator shtick, and 'attitude'. His prima donna tendancies didn't do much to endear him to me either - one minute complaining to the soundman that he wasn't getting enough vocal in his monitors - then throwing a bit of a strop and complaining about feedback when the sound guy did as he demanded and turned his vocals up!  To be fair, the band did stir up the most violent moshpit I've seen at this venue so some people were getting well into it.

The evening was finished of the the (new) Blaze Bayley Band. I've only seen Blaze perform once before - with the mighty Wolfsbane at the Marquee quite a few years ago. He was one of the best frontmen I have ever seen - and he still has it! His new band had barely had time to rehearse for this gig, but it didn't show much. The first song sounded very much like Wolfsbane, although the following songs were certainly less so, although not a million miles from that band or Iron Maiden. Unfortunately, things were interupted on more than one occasion by the guitar amp packing up. Blaze filled in the first time by entertaining us with a story or two, and the second time he just carried on with the rest of the band and performed it without guitar. Blaze's performance was (no pun intended) incendiary! This guy is possibly the best frontman I have ever seen - at some point in the performance he must have fixed virtually everyone in the crowd with his legendary stare.

His voice as as powerful and distinctive as ever, and he makes maximum effort to reach every single person in the room - this is a real 'in your face' (in the most literal sense) performance. Blaze Bayley means it!
In a set loaded with irony the singer who was booted out of Iron Maiden to make way for the returning 'air raid siren' performed in aid of that band's original drummer Clive Burr - and wasn't that the Wolfsbane classic 'Black Lagoon' closing the set? Finishing with a song by the band Blaze walked out on to join Iron Maiden was ironic enough, but then during the song he was joined on stage by 'Eddie'! Under the Eddie gear was a man who looked suspiciously like Dave Murray when I saw him earlier...
Before leaving the stage Blaze proclaimed that he wasn't going to run off to a dressing room to snort coke off a strippers arse like a 'rock star' - he was going straight to the mech stall at the back of the room to sign anything anybody wanted signed and have his picture taken with anybody who wanted it for as long as it took until every single person who wanted that sort of thing had got what they wanted. That said - he did have two burly 'security' guys to give him close escort to and from the stage - rather unnecesesary at this very small venue I thought.   As I left later he was still signing away...

The Conspiritors and Blaze Bayley were well worth seeing at this event - as for the rest, well it was all in a good cause... I was really excited when I heard the the original lineup of the mighty Wolfsbane had reformed to tour with the Wildhearts in December - after tonight I am even more excited about seeing them at the Astoria and I think old Wolfsbane fans are in for a real treat! 
Bar Monsta was a pretty cool venue when it opened and I saw some great shows there, but it turned in to 'Camden Rock' - a horrible place best avoided.