Live Review and Photos (C) Adrian Hextall \ MindHex Media
A 3 band bill, a UK tour that’s actually taking place and music to warm the heart on what remains a cold cold winter in the UK. The doors to the O2 Academy 2 in Islington opened to greet us and remind us just what we’ve been missing over the last 18 plus months. A double header with Doomsday Outlaw, about to release a new album following the ‘Hard Times’ release of 2018 and Mancunians Gorilla Riot who are some six times winners of ‘Track of the Week’ with Classic Rock. With openers Sonic Gypsy also a hugely welcome addition, the night was set to be very memorable indeed.
If you want to check out our review of the opening set from Sonic Gypsy, click on the link below:
Either band could have hit the stage next but Doomsday Outlaw drew the straw that guaranteed the biggest crowd of the night, those punters there to see them specifically and those waiting for Gorilla Riot to come on stage later. Double Headers are a double edged sword. The one who goes on last feels like the headliner for the night but actually can come off worse if the crowd thins thanks to the previous band’s fans deciding to call it a night and factor in the difficulty getting out of London late at night. The latter point is definitely an issue. Late trains are no longer a thing, timetables finish early and we increasingly find ourselves missing the encores and more from the headline act thanks to the small matter of not being able to get home unless we leave ‘right now’.
The same can be said for me. Whether it had been GR or DO on stage last at the academy, the difficulty of travelling a mere 40 miles to get home is something of a problem right now and all I can hope is that once things DO return to normal, so will the transportation services out of our fair city.
Still, it left plenty of time for music and beer (because that my friend, is why we were here) and the second band of the night after the frankly fantastic Sonic Gypsy, were the wonderfully entertaining Doomsday Outlaw.
The band have been treading the boards for some time now and every gig I’ve seen them do has felt better than the last one. Having said that, a quick check of the gigs I’ve covered of late suggests the last time I shot the band was at Bloodstock in 2018 when they turned in a blinder of a performance on the Sophie Lancaster Stage so it was about time I reminded myself of what I’d been missing.
In a world where the resurgence of UK rock bands is in danger of creating an oversaturated market with too many acts falling under the NWoCR banner, artists need to stand out from the crowd and personally I think Doomsday Outlaw do it perfectly. Having Phil Poole out there, front and centre looking like a survivalist who’s been left to his own devices in the wilderness cultivating his Grizzly Adams look helps no end in ensuring that the band have an edge, something to latch on to to draw the crowd in. Phil’s voice of course is exceptional and his rapport with the band and the crowd ensured that Doomsday Outlaw’s set was extremely well received.
With new music coming up as well, we were treated to some new tunes in the set and to get an idea of what to expect from their next full length opus, having moved away from the melodic rock leanings of Italian label Frontiers, check out the video below.
Fair play to Doomsday Outlaw, their set was going to be quite the act to follow.
With sponsorship from well known celebrity couple Jack & Stella, who were also good enough to pose for the picture below;
Gorilla Riot finished up our night in London and, just like Doomsday Outlaw, knew they needed something different from the norm and in lead singer and guitarist Arjun Bhishma they have just that. Unlike Phil Poole, Arjun does not aspire to the wilderness look and clearly favours a little more luxury in his life. This was evidenced, quite distinctly, by his choice of footwear. As you can see below, comfort is something Arjun takes rather seriously.
A solid set, with a dash of luxury, a couple of appearances from our sponsor Jack (check the gallery) and enough smiles and solos from a triple guitar sound that filled the venue floor to ceiling and wall to wall, garnered the requisite response from the crowd who immediately forgot trains and tubes were calling as they settled in for the long haul.
The band describe themselves as dirty, southern, country blues and even a little grunge at times. It’s a fair comparison and another reason to pay attention to them as they somehow managed to blend all of the above and more, not only into their set but, into individual songs. The impact that the opening salvo of tracks, Kerosene Clown, Hungry Like The Wolf and Still Doing Time, had held onto the fans that were hear to see the other headliners and hook them into another well executed set.
Arjun’s rapport with the crowd brought new fans to the band and having one of your guitarists who clearly lives and dies at the altar of Izzy Stradlin does no harm either. By the time the set closed with the apt ‘Dirty’, a sated and content crowd left the Academy, more than happy to spread the word to the masses.
Hopefully all the bands on the bill will be seen on festival lineups this year as things do (hopefully) return to normal. We can but hope.