Live Review and Photography: Adrian Hextall
Camden Town has long been the hub of the UK’s rock ‘n’ roll scene. If a young band is starting out in the British music business, odds are it has or shortly will play one of the myriad of venues on the strip between Chalk Farm and Mornington Crescent Underground Stations. Running since 2009 the festival has played host to the best of British music and showcased some of the biggest names at the time as well as fresh raw talent across some 20 venues of varying capacity.
Festival organiser Chris McCormack, formerly the driving force behind Creation Records ‘Britrock’ quartet 3 Colours Red and the promoter behind the Barfly’s hugely successful Friday night club Jubilee has been running Camden Rocks since 2009 which saw The Libertines Pete Doherty and Carl Barat headline, alongside then up and coming talents Nine Black Alps, Young Guns, The Paddingtons, Black Spiders and Sonic Boom Six. Fast forward to 2013 and we have The Subways, Orange Goblin, Turbowolf, Ginger Wildheart and almost 200 more acts across the venues.
The day begins at 12pm with Dingwalls club at the edge of Camden Lock canal.
Walk the Night
Being the first act of the day (all of the venues kick off at mid-day) can be a tough one; will you get a crowd, are they sufficiently warmed up to respond to your band, will the lighting and sound work? Thankfully Walk the Night have no such concerns and the 4 piece comprising Chris Payn (Vocals/Guitar), Rus Scagell (Guitar/Vocals), Scotty Farron (Bass/Vocals) and Andy L Smooth (Drums/Vocals) get things moving with some great bluesy classic rock that certainly fits the current music scene in London.
A short 30 minute set allow the band enough time to set the bar for what must follow during the rest of the day and it’s a high one. It’s an energetic set and the lead guitar and vocals from Chris Payn are noteworthy and really sell the band as one to watch in future.
Tax The Heat
Staying in Dingwalls, the next band on stage are Tax the Heat. An unusual name for a band but a clever marketing move as well which ensures that a search in any web browser for the term will see the band as the top hit in results.
Their look comes straight from the Kinks and latter era Beatles and their sound is pure British R&B and immediately confirms why there is a buzz about this band at the moment. The band recorded their debut self-titled EP with Chris Goss (QOTSA, Mark Lanegan, Kyuss, Sound City Players) and it has since gone on to receive airtime from the likes of Planet Rock and BBC Introducing.
Sporting a white Les Paul guitar and lead singer and guitarist Alex Veale exudes the confidence and quality of the Manic Street Preachers’ frontman James Dean Bradfield. Bandmate JP Jacyshyn wrings some of the most amazing sounds out of his guitar that give the songs a completely unique feel. The tracks are held together by rhythm section of Jack Taylor on Drums and Antonio Angotti on Bass proving again that the early slots are not always to be missed. Anyone missing this set today or joining it late should kick themselves.
This one definitely gets our “ONE TO WATCH” rating from all the bands covered today.
Fed to the Lions
Alex Veale – Vocals / Guitar
Jack Taylor – Drums
Antonio Angotti – Bass
JP Jacyshyn – Guitar
Since forming in 2006 in Bournemouth, Voodoo Vegas have gigged tirelessly on both home turf and the continent, taking audiences in on the French, Belgian, Italian and German live circuits. They’ve also landed some choice support slots playing with the likes of Glenn Hughes, Uriah Heep, The Wildhearts and Fozzy.
This afternoon they play The Beatrice, a venue that’s tight on space but high on energy. Despite major traffic problems that nearly saw them cancel, they arrive on stage with no prep time and no setlist and promptly tear the place apart. Every song gets a better and louder reception from the tightly packed crowed, shoehorned in to watch a band who appear to have been rammed into a stage so small it sees Jonno Smyth on drums sitting in the fireplace.
It matters not however as every song is a crowd pleaser and in Lawrence Case they have a consummate showman that knows how to work his audience. With Nick Brown and Merylina Hamilton trading some classic rock licks and Ash Moulton on Bass squashed into what little space remains their brand of riff driven rock is a perfect accompaniment to a Saturday afternoon.
They have a lean 34 minute album out… The Rise Of Jimmy Silver’. Worth investigating and definitely one to see live!
Lawrence Case – Vox/Harmonica
Nick Brown – Guitar/Acoustic Guitar
Merylina Hamilton – Guitar
Ash Moulton – Bass
Jonno Smyth – Drums
King Without A Crown
Time now to dial things down a little bit. The Camden Head pub plays host to a range of acoustic acts today and rising band Star Scream are next on the list.
Self-proclaimed ‘sound of tomorrow’, the band, when playing a full electric gig, come across like a great combination of Muse and T-Rex. Today we get lead vocalist, songwriter and guitarist Adam Lightspeed and an acoustic guitar.
Bathed in a sea of blue and red stage lights Adam turns in a well-received set from the packed function room inside the pub. Star Scream favourites are given a new life when played this way and Adam’s vocals are given the chance to shine when he’s not competing with the sounds emanating from his normal electric guitar and amps. The majority of the set highlights the band’s debut album ‘Sexploitation’ Non album track ‘December’ makes it into the set today pleasing the faithful as well.
If you were there for this set and enjoyed it, do check out the full electric show, you will not be disappointed.
When Crimson Lips Spell Murder
Die on the Floor
Kill Me Kate
The Girl Who Was Death
A couple of hours are then taken up interviewing some of the bands playing today (all of which will feature on this site in the near future). The next band to be caught live is then..
For the first time today, we are presented with a sell-out show. The band take to the small Underworld stage and both floor and bar area are heaving with a sweaty mass of fans rammed into every spare quarter of the venue.
From the off, the crowd and band bounce in unison as The Howling charge through their frentic set of punk tinged rock n roll, flavoured with some serious shredding from guitar maestro The Rev.
Lead vocalist ‘Blacky’ hangs his microphone leads from the ceiling above the stage and at times you could almost expect him to yell ‘Let’s Get Ready to Rumble…….’ as he stalks the stage like a true ringmaster.
Their style of music is unique. Clearly they are as comfortable with electronic, synth driven music as they are with straight ahead rock, the combination sees them at times treading a path somewhere in between ‘The Prodigy’ and ‘Rage Against The Machine’. Also well known in London for playing DJ sets at various venues, it’s easy to see why the genre crossover attracts so many younger fans to the venue tonight.
As with most of the acts today the sets are limited to around 30-40 minutes at the most. Therefore although The Howling managed to hit the ground running and energise the room right from the first song, people were left wanting more at the end of the short set. With one album written, number two in the works and Blacky and The Rev confirming that this is their sole focus for the next few years, expect to see more and more of The Howling on the international stage.
Rock n Rolla,
Hole in My Head
Dance of the Skeletons
Beat The Panic.
Blacky (Lead Vocals)
The Rev (Lead Guitar /Rhythm Guitars / Vocals)
Chappell (Bass Guitar / Vocals /Synths programming)
Grimes (Rhythm Guitar)
The Howling play Download Festival on Saturday 14th June 2014 as main support act
Riding high on the back of three very successful Pledge Music campaigns and his current G.A.S.S. project (if you don’t know.. search for it) Ginger Wildheart is no stranger to gigging in London. His acoustic shows are legendary and explain why The Jazz Café (our next venue) is full before he’s even arrived and the queue runs several hundred deep around the block to fill the remaining few spots. It’s a close run thing as to whether entrance is granted as security run a tight one out / one in policy on the door.
We make it in unscathed though and settle down to watch the master at work accompanied by long time cohort Chris Catalyst and touring colleague Courtney Love’s guitarist Micko Larkin.
Due to the quick turnaround of bands, those of us that make it in before the set starts are treated to a sound check with a highly amusing running commentary from Ginger, wondering why it takes so long to set up 3 mics and 3 acoustic guitars. Once ready however and a set packed with great version of Wildhearts classics are delivered by the 3 guys who clearly love every minute. Die-hard fans sing the original ‘Ferris Wheel’ lyrics back to Ginger on opener ‘Sick of Drugs’. Anecdotes about how to get the moment of suspense from James Bond movies played on acoustic guitars to how the suspense moment from Neighbours (I believe) should sound just before the credits roll are thrown into the mix as well before we are treated to something rather special.
‘If You Find Yourself in London Town’ is as far as I am aware a new song. A truly sublime track that cannot fail to move you and sticks in the mind long, long, long after the crowd has dispersed and gone home. Comments from fans about how it felt like the spiritual brother of ‘Geordie in Wonderland’ seem valid as the song segues straight into the afore mentioned fan favourite.
Everyone of course sings it back to the 3 men on stage and continue to do so through 29x The Pain.
Some tasty titbits in the form of Mazel Tov Cocktail and Suckerpunch which finishes the set leave the crowd a sweaty happy mess to spill out onto the street.
Sick of Drugs – (The Wildhearts song)
I Wanna Go Where the People Go – (The Wildhearts song)
So Into You – (The Wildhearts song)
Vanilla Radio – (The Wildhearts song)
Loveshit – (The Wildhearts song)
If You Find Yourself in London Town
Geordie in Wonderland – (The Wildhearts song)
29 x the Pain – (The Wildhearts song)
Mazel Tov Cocktail – (The Wildhearts song)
Forget About It
Suckerpunch – (The Wildhearts song)
For those of us in the know however, the best place to be immediately after Ginger’s set was not spilling onto the street but remaining in the Jazz Café to watch The Graveltones.
From blowing the “acoustic…..yeah right !!” stage away at Download Festival a few years ago, The Graveltones, comprising Jimmy O (vocals and guitar) and Mikey Sorbello (drums) have released their debut album and garnered a good following (The Jazz Café remains packed for their set) on the back of some of the most energetic live shows witnessed in recent years.
To get their unique sound, Jimmy feeds his guitar through separate guitar and bass amps and Mikey with his Rock and Reggae pedigree pounds the drums like his life depends on it.
To watch The Graveltones is like sitting in the armchair in front of the speaker much like the classic Maxell advert from the 1980s. It’s an amazing wall of sound that threatens to blow you away with its’ intensity. Their sound is a classic rock n blues vibe that crosses several decades of influences from Dylanesque lyrics to the best of The Who for energetic delivery.
The crowd fully involve themselves in the set and several people watching them for the first time are clearly converts by the time their set ends.
Never Gonna Let You Go
Off The Shelf
You Rascal You
In The Throes
Catch Me On The Fly
This then for Myglobalmind is where our day ends. 190+ bands, across multiple venues means that, on average, 10 bands are on stage at any one time. It’s a great concept but sadly it means that the perfect stage list of bands to see is almost impossible to build. As you identify one you sacrifice another. You do the best you can but you’re left wanting to see more than is physically possible. Maybe next year!!