Monday, 23 February 2015

20/2/2015 Bermondsey Joyriders @ the (new) 12 Bar Club

I've been looking forward to checking out the new 12 Bar Club since it was kicked out of it's historic Denmark Street location last month by greedy property developers. The new venue is in a slightly odd location on Holloway Road, but only a few minutes walk from stations on three different lines. Most regular London gig goers will be familiar with the nearby Holloway Road and Highbury & Islington tube stations, but Drayton Park is actually closer than either at seven or eight minutes walk away. This is excellent for me as I live in North London, but understandably people coming from central or south London are less happy with the new Location. However, the Holloway/Highbury area is somewhere many are used to going to for live music and I suspect the club had very limited options available for finding a new venue at a good location and an affordable price.

So what's the new place like then? Well it's a lot bigger than the much loved Denmark Street venue and is now spread over two floors. There is a balcony - much larger than the old place. Also toilets and bars on two floors. The bogs are bigger and better - not smelly but the floor in the gents was awash and one of the hand driers was broken - still a 'rock 'n' roll toilet' then! Nothing will ever be able to match the intimacy and atmosphere of the tiny Denmark Street venue, but this new place is more comfortable and has a character of it's own - it already feels like an established club. It's easier to get a decent view of the band if the place is busy compared to the old place, although like many music venues there are some inconveniently placed pillars. Overall, I really like this new venue - but I was less than pleased to be charged £4.10 for a bottle of Hobgoblin ale when I can get similar at the nearby Unicorn for around £3.25. The old 12 Bar Club used to be reasonably priced for it's bottled ales so it's a shame this seems to have changed. Consequently my overdraft dictates I only have one drink tonight - many music venues in the area have hiked their bar prices by around 20-30% in the last two or three years while my wages have only increased by 1% in more than 5 years so somethings got to give... That's my only gripe about the new 12 Bar Club though and the door price of only £6 is very reasonable in the 12 Bar tradition.

Anyway, I didn't come here for a night on the piss - I came here to see a band. Tonight's show is the launch party for 12 Bar Records and tonight's headliners have as new vinyl single available on the merch stand to celebrate this. Unfortunately I don't arrive early enough to see punk stalwarts and 12 Bar regulars The Phobics, and I only catch the last part of the set by new band The London Sewage Company.
12 Bar regulars will probably recognise the singer - yes it's 'Barnet Mark' who also sings with punk 'n' roll Elvis covers band Viva Las Vegas. This new band play really well and sound rather like The Clash.

And so on to the headliners. I haven't been able to see the Bermondsey Joyriders for a while but they have lost none of their rough edged charm. Although they look very much like a proper rock & roll band (which they are) this band's punk rock credentials are impeccable as they feature former members of Cock Sparrer and Chelsea plus a drummer who played with Johnny Thunders in his later days. As with the previous bands on tonight's bill the late New York Dolls and Heartbreakers guitarist is an influence - the Bermondsey Joyriders song 'Part Of My Problem' is actually about him.
The Bermondsey Joyriders are an usual mixture of punk rock lyrics and attitude mixed with slide guitar (not in the punk rock rulebook) a very strong and distinctive old school rock 'n' roll image, and proper showmanship.
It's not just about image and attitude with this band - they have loads of great songs too. They have recently released their third album and tonight are promoting their first release on the new '12 Bar Records' label - the song '12 Bar Beat' is available tonight on limited edition 7" orange vinyl. Tonight's setlist is a good mixture of songs from the band's three albums - with some songs from the first album like 'All That Darkness', 'Football', and crowd pleaser/audience participation number 'Who Are Ya'  making a welcome return after all the shows promoting the previous 'Noise & Revolution' album. It makes a nice change to see a proper rock 'n' roll band.

It's been an enjoyable night at the new 12 Bar Club and I look forward to making many more visits over the years - although I doubt I'll be spending much money at the bar...

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

1/2/2015 Jelly, The Underrunners & Nine Day Decline @ The Dublin Castle

After a good night on Saturday in Camden on Sunday night I'm back again, but at a different venue. Not as cheap as the Unicorn, but if you are on the cheap list it's only a fiver for four bands at the Dublin Castle and £7 otherwise which is still great value for money. The ale on tap is reasonably priced but not as cheap as the bottled stuff at the Unicorn, but the Old Rosie cider has gone up massively in price at the Dublin Castle over the past year and is now heading into BrewDog territory. Which is where is was before the Dublin Castle tonight....

Unfortunately I miss the first band the Love Me Tenders. I do catch some of the set by The Underrunners though.
This band are new to me but have an interesting mixture of styles. A rockabilly guitarist playing Goth? Well I guess Billy Duffy was doing that back in the 1980's - which is very much like where this band sound like they are from.
The Underrunners certainly don't look like a Goth band, but they sound more than a little like Sisters Of Mercy. They are good at what they do though, so definitely worth checking out.

Next up is a band much more familiar to me.
This is the first show Jelly have played for a month or so but they are tight, polished and very professional.
Jelly's influences seem to mainly date from the 1970's and 80's but there still seems to be something current and vital about their sound. The the standard of musicianship is very high and you can tell these are people who have been around and 'paid their dues' before this band was formed. They have learned to write a decent song and they have proved with their debut album - work on the second is in progress.
The onstage and off chemistry shows this band are good friends as well as bandmates - they all seem to work so well together.
Although their album 'TroubaDour, WiZard,The QueEn and the MaChine' (intentional capitals although I HAVE been drinking) sounds great with it's production and mix it sounds even more powerful live with Martin beating the living daylights out of the (house) drumkit in Bonham style and the riff from 'Miss Behaviour' sounding really heavy. This is a band I always really enjoying seeing play.

Last on the bill tonight are Nine Day Decline - another band who play well and don't sound how they look. Plenty of Goth influence like one of tonight's earlier band and players who have obviously been around and paid their dues over the years.

31/1/2015 Gasoline Thrill, Pandora Knox & Healthy Junkies @ The Unicorn

Well 2015 is getting off to a slow start as far as gigs go. Fortunately things are looking up a bit this weekend in Camden. Saturday night finds me enjoying a great value for money (Free admission and cheap beer) at The Unicorn. First band were Gasoline Thrill who turned in a good performance of Joan Jet/Brody Dalle influenced punk 'n' roll with singer Samara Kain putting her guitar aside for the last song of two of their set.
I didn't get many pictures and most of them were rubbish so if you want to see some good ones I suggest you go to the talented Svenja Block's Flickr site here.

Next up were a brand new all girl band who have only been together a few weeks - this was the first ever show by Pandora Knox. This was an all cover song set but very enjoyable! The songs ranged from The Runaways to G'N'R, Mötley Crüe and Alice in Chains.
The band had a great sound and good stage presence - I can see them making a stir on the Camden scene in 2015. Although they only played covers tonight they are planning to start writing songs of their own very soon - I'm looking forward to hearing that they come up with as they play really well tonight.

Last band tonight are Unicorn regulars Healthy Junkies. They usually play here once a month at their own club night with other bands, but this month they are having a break and playing someone else's night instead.
This band's show are always enjoyable with their tuneful and catchy pop/punk/grunge songs picked from their two albums released to date. Work on the band's next album has already started and a couple rather sharp new songs making their debut tonight suggest it will be rather good.
The obvious chemistry between the band members makes Healthy Junkies shows good fun and this encourages one of their friends to join them on stage for a song.
A very enjoyable Saturday night in Camden, and much cheaper than you would expect even though I had a good few beers. I was lucky with the train and home within the hour too - result!