Words and Pictures: Adrian Hextall \ MindHex Media
May 21st 2021 , over a year has passed since a real honest to goodness gig has been covered in London. Thanks to Lockdown 3 (yes 3) ending or at least starting to ease, we find ourselves in the fortunate position that limited, socially distanced gigs can become a thing once more.
One of the first to tread the boards is The Heat Inc. When I reviewed their recent E.P. I said that the music suggests it should be played loud and in a darkened basement to recreate the feel and sound of one of The Heat Inc.’s gigs. That their last gig was way back in February 2020 (like many artists) means that , at present, this is perhaps the only (and best) way to listen to their particular brand of dirty rock ‘n’ roll. Amazingly, the show at Rocksteady in Dalston, London offers exactly what the Dr ordered and as we made our way into a tightly packed yet socially distanced basement, the band appeared to remind us just what we’d missed in over a year of silence.
Both the E.P and the gig open with ‘Down In The City’ and if you want to wear your influences on your sleeves then Blondie’s ‘Call Me’ was very much on regular rotation when the band were first looking to compose this particular track. It’s only the intro that’s a perfect match but that initial 30 seconds was more than enough to hook me when I first heard the e.p. , especially given the source material is perhaps my favourite from the fabulous Debbie Harry & Co.
Once the smile and recognition that “I’m going to enjoy this” moment passes, we settle down into the gig properly and the rest of the opening number turns into something much more in keeping with what we expect from the band with Jon Dodd’s voice a ringer for Iggy Pop at the height of his time with The Stooges.
‘Draw Blood For Proof’ and ‘Ms. Willie Mae’ followed in quick succession and both of these were new to be having only been party to the recent e.p. prior to this show. Both contain the same energy of the opener but it’s when ‘Polaroids’ is played that the party really starts. There are many appreciative nods around the room as the band moves into Queens of the Stone Age territory and given that former QOTSA member Alain Johannes is a fan of single ‘Raptors’, it will hopefully only be a matter of time before a support slot is offered as the band present the perfect accompaniment to the Californian outfit.
Sadly the sax driven outro from PJ Harvey’s own Terry Edwards is missing from the song but it does allow the band a neat segue into ‘Your After Love Song’, a personal favourite from the e.p and a track dripping in angst. Its dirty, grime filled vibe that permeates throughout the song makes this very much the anti-hero of love songs and it’s like listening to someone whose life has gone through the wringer but their story is so fascinating that you simply cannot let go until the end.
There’s plenty of fuzz in the mix as they move onto the aforementioned ‘Raptors’ and it definitely adds to that gritty basement feel that the band are clearly striving for and the one that we are \ were living whilst watching the show. Having arrived on stage, looking fairly pristine, beards and hair neatly presented, some 30 minutes in, the energy spent on the show has resulted in a dishevelled sweaty mess with clothing, hair and everything in-between all over the place. No complaints from me as it clearly shows a band enjoying themselves and more importantly putting the effort in for the appreciative crowd.
We also get a rather excellent cover of Suicide’s ‘Dream Baby Dream’ , the electro-punk anthem from the 1970s. Written by its members Martin Rev and Alan Vega the song was released as a single in 1979 by Island Records. It has been covered by Neneh Cherry and The Thing and by Bruce Springsteen so The Heat Inc. are in good company when they perform a thundering rendition of the song.
After ‘Akasaka Murder Squad’ the boys disappeared back stage briefly before appearing and asking if we want just one more. Of course the answer was yes so we got ‘Sammy Swing Easy’ which has Mick Jagger written all over it and the change in style and approach, as well as Jon shifting his vocal range and delivery around with ease proves that this will be a band to watch out for when they drop a full length album.
The versatility and capabilities of the band , made for a brilliant evening with the only gripe being the shockingly bad lighting that made it impossible to get really good photos but take a look below at what we managed to achieve and we look forward to the day when we get to see the band play above ground in slightly brighter surroundings.
The Heat Inc. set list
01 Down In The City
02 Draw Blood For Proof
03 Ms. Willie Mae
05 Your After Love Song
07 Dream Baby Dream (Suicide Cover)
08 Akasaka Murder Squad
09 Sammy Swing Easy
Jon Dodd , vocals,
Nicolas Rigot, bass,
Maurizio Vitale, drums,
Marco Simoncelli, guitar,