Live review and picture credit: Adrian Hextall \ MindHex Media
For a band now nestled comfortably under the safe wings of Motörhead Music, Barb Wire Dolls have delivered ‘Desperate’ , their new album and first with the label that sees them represented by Lemmy’s long-time manager Todd Singerman, Motörhead’s booking agents, and parent label UDR/Warner Music Group.
That level of support and influence has naturally had an impact on the band’s material and the new album, reviewed HERE, sees the band take a more thoughtful approach to their music and certainly less chaotic and abrasive that the collective that delivered ‘Fuck The Pussies’ and ‘Slit’ . Still ploughing the furrow that sits between punk and grunge, the band has settled into a space that sees them fit more with the American punk scene than the more simplistic British scene of old. As such the initial concern as I entered a completely empty venue at the Camden Assembly (formerly Barfly) was whether or not the band would sell well in light of the switch.
With no support and the band only due on stage around the 8:30pm mark, the venue remained eerily quiet with most patrons staying in the downstairs bar until the last moment. Of course for us hack who had arrived early, it meant the main venue bar was within easy reach with some decent beers on tap to pass the time whilst we waited for the main, and only, event.
When the lights do dim, leaving a wall of red light bulbs across the back of the stage as the initial set lighting, an audible sigh emanates from the assembled photographers. Without the use of flash guns (the things that should rarely be used in gigs) this was going to produce some terrible band shots. For a newly refurbished venue, the Camden Assembly smacks of being redesigned solely to suit club nights rather than live acts. However it is what it is, so apologies to the band if any of my shots momentarily stunned them but the end result meant that the accompanying photos are worthwhile.
When the five piece, do take to the stage, we get the opportunity to see how well the current line up gel. Isis Queen, looking and sounding amazing on vocals is joined by Pyn Doll on lead guitar, former bassist Remmington Pearce on rhythm guitar with Iriel Blaque coming in on bass. Krash Doll, gotta love these names, hammers the cans behind everyone as if their life depended on it and from the off, it’s clear that they have something, still, to prove.
The floor is probably only half full but the band don’t care. Taking the old adage of “play each show like it’s your last” they rapidly turn everything up several notches and entertain us with several tracks from the excellent ‘Slit’ mixed in with tracks from the current release as well.
Music from their current and past releases sit together well and prove that the find haven’t lost their direction with ‘Desperate‘ just simply tried something new that certainly works very well in the live environment.
By the time they close they’ve put in a full shift, never delivering a minimal show to a small crowd but, as noted above, putting in the effort and seemingly oblivious to the numbers present. It’s surprising that they weren’t part of a bigger set although it appears the venue wanted everything and everyone cleared out by a 10pm curfew, again presumably looking at the club night as being the cash cow rather than the live scene. It’s a shame as bands should get treated as their headline status clearly deserves. Not so it would appear. Coupled with the atrocious lighting at the Assembly, the band were fighting an uphill battle from the off. That they survived intact and did indeed triumph is testament to their resilience and desire to prove themselves. Kudos.