Due to a couple of reasons I decide to take the bike down instead of getting the tube: 1. The venue bar prices have taken a massive hike over the past two or three years - going up several times faster than my wages. A bottle of Newcastle Brown used to be very reasonably priced at this venue at not much over £3 - now it's well over £4 so they can stick it up their arse - I'd rather go without than be ripped-off like that. Another place that I have now decided is a 'non-drinking venue' for me. 2. Tufnell Park tube station is closed until well into next year due to the lifts being replaced. Why does it seem to take much longer just to put new lifts in than it did to build the whole station in the first place?
I arrive to find support band Quartz already playing. I also discover I have missed another support band - I thought there were only two bands on the bill? The other band was called Speed Trap - somewhat ironic for me as 'Speed' is part of the name of the model of motorcycle I rode to the gig - I also got caught by a hidden speed camera soon after getting it, and the area of the gig is infested with speed cameras and 20 MPH speed limits! It concentrates the mind somewhat... To be honest I'd never heard of Quartz before - apparently they were part of the NWOBHM, but they slipped under my radar somehow. Anyway, they sound a lot better than they look tonight - not a million miles away from Diamond Head - who were obviously also heavily influenced by Black Sabbath. The sound is pure NWOBHM and the guitarist is very good, although he doesn't look like he would even like heavy metal - let alone be able to play it! He looks like he should be playing in the corner of a pub in an old man's blues band - but he can play the shit of of his guitar and gets a great 'metal' sound out of his rig. The band's singer - a newer and slightly younger recruit (who appears to have suffered far less from the ravages of time) says of his two bandmates "These guys did loads of drugs back in the day - and look what happened? Don't do drugs kids!". Quartz turn out a solid and enjoyable set of 70's/80's sounding metal - finishing with a (not really necessary) cover of the Dio fronted Sabbath classic 'Heaven And Hell'.
Just when you think we might have seen the last of Wolfsbane they pop up again! Last time I saw them they said "See you next year!". That was about two years ago now - with no sign of any activity from the band since. Now they are suddenly back with a newly recorded EP and a full tour! The last time we saw them was when they were promoting their (very good) comeback album 'Wolfsbane Save The World' - a varied and interesting album containing some cracking songs that are up there with their previous output. Although pies may have been eaten and there is more hair on the faces of some band members than on their heads these days, one thing about Wolfsbane that hasn't changed is the ferocity of their performance and the fire in Blaze Bayley's eyes! The band sound just as good as ever - in fact guitarist Jase Edwards probably has a heavier sound now and plays even better than he did back in the day. Drummer Steve 'Danger' must scare the shit of his drum kit as he beats it to within an inch of it's life - while bassist Jeff Hately unbelievably still looks exactly the same as he did in the band first time round, although his trademark Gibson Thunderbird bass seems to have been retired in favour of a more bulletproof Fender Precision.
Blaze's rants and 'snake oil' spiel between songs are highly entertaining and it's fun guessing which song is coming up next from his long and corny hammed-up introductions to the songs. There is nothing to compare with a Wolfsbane show! Blaze looks like he totally believes in what he is doing, and his staring eyes and crazed persona make you believe it too. He does let the odd smile slip - we can tell he is enjoying this as much as we are! All too soon the show is over, but what a show it was - I'm sure nobody goes home disappointed. This year as the band exit the stage they give no clue about when they will be back again, but still imply that they will be back. Let's hope they don't leave it so long next time....
Skint though I am, I spend some cash on the new EP instead of the venue's vastly overpriced beer. It's money well spent too - this new self-produced stuff sounds far meatier and heavier than the disappointingly lightweight Rick Rubin produced 'Live Fast, Die Fast' debut album. There is a variety of interesting songs involving subjects such as how it's actually OK to keep on playing in a band as you get older, catchy commercial stuff about would-be/has-been movie stars, and social comment on how times have changed regarding 'alternative' culture. Not unlike Saxon's 'Denim & Leather' Wolfsbane have a knack for writing songs I can personally identify with.
Jumping on the bike the journey home only takes twenty minutes - who needs the tube and overpriced venue beer anyway?
Oh yeah - my pictures are shit as usual these days, but if you want to see a load of really good photos from this gig in excellent qualitiy click here to go to Trudi Knight's photo album.