Live Review and Photo Credit: Adrian Hextall \ MindHex Media
“Surely you should be playing larger venues now?” A question posed to The Amorettes in the ‘intimate’ surroundings of The Black Heart in Camden an hour or two before they are due to go onto stage in front of a sold out audience. With their third album ‘White Hot Heat’ now out, this is their opportunity to take everything to the next level. The following night at the Islington in London is also sold out suggesting that a single show, larger venue would have been more than possible and most likely to sell out as well. Fans should make the most of these smaller venues in which to see the band, there’s a sense it won;t be possible for much longer.
A joint headlining tour with Love Zombies, the Anglo-American punk tinged power pop outfit has seen most of the venues getting hot and sweaty thanks to great ticket sales. Initially The Black Heart gig was going to be the end of tour show before an extra night \ second venue was added to give the London fans the opportunity to see the bands after this tiny venue sold out.
To warm the crowd up, an acoustic set from Louise Distras got the ball rolling.
Energised, mixing pop and punk together perfectly, Louise was a natural choice to open the show given the headline acts. Channelling hard hitting lyrical content into her music, she managed to achieve what few solo artists with an acoustic guitar can ever manage, namely getting the snarl and attitude of punk into what is essentially a toned down sound when you’re missing the energy of an electric band.
As a result, her short set drew a fantastic response from the crowd, warmed the already hot venue up a little more and raised the bar in terms of expectations for what was to follow.
Louise is touring with the rest of her band at the moment. If the acoustic experience managed to impress so many so quickly then the electric sets will be something special indeed.
Tour dates are here: http://www.louisedistras.co.uk/shows
Alternating headline slots between the two saw The Amorettes hit the stage first at The Black Heart. I’m not convinced this was such a good idea as their balls to the wall, hard rock sound is nothing if not 110% of energy from start to finish with everything turned up to 11. They are the sort of band that Lemmy, were he still with us, would have gone up on stage to endorse and request that the audience “give them a chance.” It never did Twisted Sister any harm and the same could be said for the three girls from Scotland.
Opening with ‘Stealing Thunder’ from latest album ‘White Hot Heat’, is slightly prophetic. Going on before Love Zombies breezy, energetic Californian power punk is surely going to leave Hollis, Davey and Co. a tough hill to climb.
There’s a focus on the new material, an album that changes gear and lane several times thanks to additional writing and production input from Black Star Rider’s Ricky Warwick and Thunder’s Luke Morley. They play it safe live though and follow the formula of the two earlier albums and the set contains the hard, faster tracks that have come to epitomise the best of what the band can deliver. Sadly no ‘Pervert Alert’ from the new album which has live classic written all over it. We did however get ‘Let The Neighbours Call The Cops’ and the girl’s very own tribute to Kenny Loggins with ‘Batter Up’ (listen again… you can’t unhear it!)
The trio of Gill Montgomery and sisters Hannah McKay and Heather McKay were as tight as a band could be are several years on the road and the audience lapped up their own brand of rock and roll with gusto. It’s also highly probable that it was gusto that caused the walls and ceiling of the venue to sweat profusely during the set as the temperature went up and up and up. If people need to suffer for their music, then a combination of The Amorettes’ energy and the lack of air con in the venue ensured the crowd made their contribution to the cause.
A great sing along, a great band…. how the hell could Love Zombies follow that?
Having decamped back to California, Hollis Mahadey has continued to work closely with London based Davey Fitzsimon and the two of them are the two ‘official’ members of Love Zombies now. With several E.P.s under their belt, the co-headlining tour with The Amorettes sees the band return to the UK in support of their PledgeMusic funded debut album ‘Passionfruit’.
It’s a welcome return as well for Chema Zurita on bass who’d previously played live with LZ when we covered the band at Camden Rocks in 2015. As such, some continuity with the line up was present and Chema’s punk fuelled bass work really helped bring an attitude filled edge to their sound as the opening track from ‘Passionfruit’, ‘Oblivion’, got the ball rolling.
A hand painted back drop, covered in fluorescent paint sums up the band showing their hippie-esque, bohemian roots and the the breezy power pop that the band dispense, is a world away from the thundering sound The Amorettes has recently delivered.
Looking at the crowd, the mix of Amorettes and Love Zombies t-shirts was fairly even so putting the two acts together on the bill was clearly a good mix. Love Zombies have stand out songs, ‘Robots and Aliens’ being a clear mid set winner and perfectly placed to keep the crowd fired up throughout their set. An interesting cover of The Ramones’ ‘Blitzkreig Bop’ is a decent nod back to one of their musical inspirations.
it all builds into a shambolic, energised, noisy conclusion as any punk gig should do and that definitely is the right sort of approach the band need to follow. The songs sound tougher and have added raw energy than they do on the album but that’s to be expected from a small, hot, sweaty and packed venue.
A great bill for the fans but it could have so easily been in a bigger venue and still sold out.