Words & Pictures: Adrian Hextall / MindHex Media
When I picked up my beanie hat at a press conference in London earlier this year on February 27th (it says on the back) the 10 months we would have to wait to see the band perform live once more seemed like an eternity.
As well as some great stories from founding quartet, Ricky Warwick, Andy ‘Tantrum’ McCafferty, Floyd London and Stump Monroe, our MC on the day, Adam Parsons, as well as keeping things moving, was adamant that the three winter dates, Glasgow, Manchester, and London, would be it. After that, zip, nada, no more. This was our only chance to see The Al-fuckin’-Mighty one last time. That, clearly, was a very rash decision.
The London show will go down as one of, if not the, gigs of the year. The number of people I knew that attended that show probably made up for half of the crowd present. Fans, journalists, photographers, publicists, managers, label contacts and more… everyone it seemed, wanted to see The Almighty.
Balaam & The Angel
As such, before the band had even set foot on stage, the atmosphere in the 2,500 capacity O2 Forum in Kentish Town was electric. The crowd therefore could swing either way for the support act, such was their desire to get to the headliner. This of course meant fellow Scots, Balaam & The Angel had their work cut out.
Thankfully for the Morris brothers (all three of whom remain in the band since their inception) they had a wild and wonderful crowd of their own and the gothic hard rockers, coming across as a mix of The Alarm and Sisters of Mercy, dug deep, pulled a truly memorable performance out their hats and totally justified my decision to make sure I was close to the venue some 2 hours before the doors opened to ensure I didn’t miss them. [Admittedly, the thought of a couple of beers before the show with friends also influenced this decision].
As reunions go, this was up there, for me, with seeing the classic line up of The Wildhearts get back together a few years ago. Blessed with a similar, rabid, fan base, by the time the P.A. announced, “From Glasgow, Scotland, the Al-Fucking-Mighty”, it was as if [insert your team here] had just scored the winning goal in the World Cup Final in the dying seconds of the match.
What better opening song to welcome the Scots back then than ‘Resurrection Mutha’. The crowd bounced, the band lit up the stage with their energy and the Wikipedia definition of “perfect moment” was rewritten and re-dated as ‘December 2nd 2023, The Almighty, London’. Pretty impressive when you realise we were just one song in!
The power of the fanbase also made a huge impact as I along with the majority of the people present felt it their responsibility to sing each and every song back to the band word for word. If this had been a KISS show (who co-incidentally were playing their final shows in New York at the same time) then the band would have let the crowd run with it and sat back and soaked up the fan adoration. Not so The Almighty. There was no resting on their laurels, no ‘leave it to the crowd to entertain themselves’, no sense of ‘let’s do this for the money’. If the crowd sang loud then Ricky Warwick was tuned to one-louder. When the crowd went past 11, well Ricky simply smiled, and went to 12 and so it continued.
The set took me back, way back. It helps no end that Ricky, front and centre, looked every inch the lean, mean rocker I first saw at Rock City in Nottingham in support of the debut album on 11th July 1990. I don’t look as good as I did in 1990 so the gig was now also tinged with some sadness and more than a little envy!
Personal favourite ‘Devil’s Toy’ brought a tear to the eye for all of its beauty as did a rousing ‘Free n’ Easy’. I could probably wax lyrical about every song and fill a four-page essay about the gig but suffice to say, the Forum, the band and the crowd all worked in perfect harmony. The three-song encore which naturally ended with the epic ‘Wild & Wonderful’ just hammered home the need for more. To paraphrase Charles Dicken’s classic ‘Oliver’, “Please Ricky, I Want Some More!”.
Over the Edge
Little Lost Sometimes
Full Force Lovin’ Machine
Welcome to Defiance
Sin Against the Light
The Unreal Thing
Blood, Fire & Love
Crank and Deceit
Free ‘n’ Easy
Jesus Loves You…But I Don’t
Wild & Wonderful