THE LEGAL TENDER TOUR
SHIHAD, THE LIVING END, AIRBOURNE, LUGER BOA
Christchurch Town Hall, New Zealand
The Living End
With four of down under’s hottest live bands teaming up for the eight-city Legal Tender New Zealand tour it was a great chance to see just how good rock ‘n’ roll is these days in NZ and Australia. Kicking off the night were LUGER BOA, formed from the ashes of NZ acts the D4 and Sommerset and they get the crowd worked up with 20 minutes of glammed up, high energy rock ‘n’ roll before AIRBOURNE follow up their Sonisphere triumph by slaying the crowd with the likes of 'Runnin' Wild', 'Blackjack' and 'What’s Eatin' You'. The only new track they previewed was 'Born To Kill' which wasn't exactly a departure from their debut, but if it ain't broke… THE LIVING END never disappoint live and Chris Cheney remains one of the best guitarists in rock ‘n’ roll. Oldies like 'Prisoner Of Society' and ‘Second Solution’ mix well with the heavier new numbers like 'White Noise' and 'Raise The Alarm' and they end their set with Chris literally climbing Scotty’s double bass in a brilliant finale. The Living End simply rule! Catch em' on their U.K tour in December. New Zealand rockers SHIHAD are celebrating twenty years as a band, and in that time they have come close to cracking the US but due to a brief change of name to Pacifier due to the September 11th attacks they didn't quite get there. And that's a shame because what Shihad do best is big anthem, chorus-packed rock, and with an arsenal of huge songs like 'The General Electric', ‘Comfort Me' and the heavy as a death in the family 'Empty Shell' they have the 1800 fans here tonight blowing the roof off the town hall. With a new album and tour due to hit the UK in May, maybe its time for you to check out Lostprophets singer Ian Watkins’ favourite band.
Words/Photos: Eugene Big Cheese/Matthew Stead
Heavy Trash / Gin Palace
Lexington, London, 16/09/09
Coinciding with - rather the being part of - the Not The Same Old Blues Crap season of punk rock blues gigs, tonight’s show was nevertheless in full accordance with the Blues Crap ethos of low-down rockin’ delights. North London three-piece Gin Palace soften up the crowd with their sozzled high-impact blues noise. Jon Free prangs out his crash-test chords while vocalist Meaghan Wilkie fixes the front row with a mischievous glare while declaiming the virtues of ‘Kicking On’, Australian parlance for ‘Knock ‘em back’ in case you’re wondering.
The evening’s main draw Heavy Trash comprises ex-Madder Rose and Speedball Baby guitar man Matt Verta Ray and Jon Spencer of Blues Explosion fame. HT seem to have set their parameters more-or-less within the city limits of fifties rockabilly. There’s a strong whiff of hair-oil in the air, and while Spencer’s more familiar on-stage mode - an overstimulated white James Brown - appears to have been toned right down, he’s still throwing enough ‘68 comeback moves to maintain the magnetism. Heavy Trash bring it right back to Sun Studios’ basics; the rhythmic whip-crack of a Slingerland snare, the organic thump of a stand-up bass, sprung reverb and glowing valve tubes. Spencer and Verta Ray revel in the undimmed thrill of vintage rock’n’roll tones, the authenticity of this music at its moment of post-war inception. A history lesson it might be, but it’s one that bears repeating, and in the hands of Heavy Trash, the spirit’s tangibly alive.
Kid Congo & The Pink Monkeybirds
100 Club, London, 29th November
With a resume bragging stints with the Cramps, the Bad Seeds and a long association with Jeffrey Lee Pierce in the Gun Club, Kid Congo’s status as six-string foil to the greats is beyond argument; as a front man in his own right, he’s been a little longer coming forward, but with his current outfit the Pink Monkeybirds now touring their second album Dracula Boots, it’s a role he seems increasingly comfortable with. In their coordinated bolero jackets and red silk shirts, the Pink Monkeybirds are a vision of south of the border cool, fully in keeping with the Congo charisma. With his toothily angelic take on the street-hip slouch of a barrio hustler, Kid’s on winning form, dusting the front row with handfuls of glitter between numbers with that sleazy-soulful grin on his chops. The set doesn’t shy from Congo’s illustrious past; Gun Club staples such as Sex Beat and For The Love Of Ivy are pulled out of the hat at strategic points, and the recently-departed Cramps man Lux Interior gets a respectful salute with a spirited Goo Goo Muck. Kid’s own material meanwhile follows a Latino-punk groove, over which Congo’s guitar tone - a ghostly splice of feedback and tremolo - conjures desert winds and lost spirits. The sonic spookiness peaks on a sublime instrumental take on Jeffrey Lee’s Mother Of Earth, from which Kid slams into the lascivious grind of La Historia De Un Amour, before wrapping up the set with a jubilant I’m Cramped. We don’t got too many originals left, but Kid Congo still has his instincts sparking, and for that I’m happy.
THE KING BLUES
London Camden Electric Ballroom
Entering the Electric Ballroom, we’re immediately greeted by the sight of a man distributing leaflets and asking us to sign a petition: bring the troops back home from Afghanistan. It’s immediately clear that this was all the KING BLUES doing, liberal-minded punks that they are.
On stage a wooden music box sits alone playing ‘London’s Burning’. Not quite the introduction one would expect from any band, but it works, proof positive that popular acclaim be damned: Itch and the boys don’t confirm.
Storming the stage and erupting into song, the atmosphere can only be described as electric while their lyrics could be described as pure poetry. Combine this with energetic ska, fused with acoustic folk and you’ve got yourself a room full of people either happily bouncing or skanking. We’re treated to a great selection of tracks, including ‘Lets Hang The Landlord’, ‘I Got Love’ and ‘Save The World Get The Girl’. The mood is toned down; dangling fairy lights contribute to a beautiful performance of ‘Underneath This Lamppost Light’, proving the ability of frontman Itch when it comes to delivering with just his ukulele and incredible voice. Swaying arms and beer cans unite as the whole crowd sings the refrain of “You look beautiful tonight”. This soon ends as ‘My Boulder’ begins, and to everyone’s astonishment, Itch welcomes “My boys from Enter Shikari” mid-song. It’s a crowded stage, but both an epic collaboration and performance that leaves everyone feeling gob smacked. Itch thanks the crowd and enthuses: “We’re fucking overwhelmed. Thank you so much.” If anything, we’re overwhelmed; tonight’s performance is nothing less than superb, and unforgettable. The King Blues are on top of their game and showcase British talent at its best.
Words/Photos: Chloe Gillard
BIG CHEESE PRESENTS
STRAWBERRY BLONDES, MIDDLE FINGER SALUTE
London Camden Barfly
They may be young bands, but it’s nice to see a healthy age range making up the audience at this up-and-comer Sunday night buffet. Punk rock is top of the menu and served up for starters are MIDDLE FINGER SALUTE, a talented Blackburn four-piece who are heading for high places. They’ve already shown their colours on this year’s Warped Tour (not to mention on the follow up compilation) and though tonight’s crowd may be a teensy bit smaller, the band’s performance is clearly no less passionate. Punchy, brash and garnished with old-skool integrity, this support slot provides the perfect aperitif, quickly setting juices flowing. Our main course arrives a couple of drinks later, in the form of STRAWBERRY BLONDES, and it’s evident from the first taste that we’re in for a treat. Comprised of a satisfying medley of anthemic punk and roll tracks like ‘Goodbye Inspiration’ and trumpet-backed ska songs like ‘Beat Down Babylon’ and ‘Rip It Up’, the Newport threesome deliver the set with silver service, however it’s clear that something is lacking with this latest nouvelle lineup, which if you want this critics opinion, could definitely use a fourth helping. The final dish of the night comes from those West Coast curs THE BRIGGS, a rowdy bunch of scoundrels with six releases under their belt and though little of the band’s early material makes the cut this time, a fresh batch of shanties from new album ‘Come All You Madmen’ is enough to fill anyone’s plate. Jason LaRocca’s phenomenal guitar work and the swarthy vocals of his brother Joey make a winning combination, most notably in tracks like ‘Oblivion’ and ‘This is LA’ and by the end the crowd are stuffed to bursting: truly the night’s piece de resistance! But though tonight’s portions have been generous, the presentation faultless and the quality of the highest caliber, this is one patron still left hungry for more. Perhaps a kebab is in order on the homestretch?