As one after another of the renowned sixties beat groups hit their 50th anniversary it’s fair to say my adopted city of London did pretty well in churning out what would be some of the biggest and most influential names ever: The Stones, The Kinks, The Small Faces and, of course, The Who. So it seems entirely appropriate to be sitting in London’s largest and most prestigious music venue to be celebrating The Who’s anniversary fifty and a bit years after the release of their breakthrough single, I Can’t Explain. It would have been fifty years exactly but for Roger Daltrey’s bout of laryngitis last year. But the o2 is full tonight and last night for the rescheduled dates.
The band, Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey being supported by a strong cast of supporting musicians including Zak Starkey on drums begin, appropriately, with a brilliantly energetic I Can’t Explain and proceed to rattle their way through the sort of classics that anyone with a Who Greatest Hits album would expect: Substitute, Who are You, My Generation, Join Together, You Better You Bet and much more. Some suitably retro Mod-inspired 60s graphics accompany the band on the big screen throughout. We then begin to meander into the more experimental rock opera phase. Not the side of The Who I warm to the most but nevertheless it’s performed well, gives Townshend the chance to flex his creative muscles and Daltrey the chance to relax his vocal chords on a couple of numbers. It’s all finished off with a blistering Won’t Get Fooled Again.
“Hope I die before I get old” is the line that critics have always thrown at the two surviving members of The Who whenever they decide to take to the road. But in a strange and prophetic way the lyrics have turned out to be absolutely true. The post-war baby boomer generation have refused to become old, certainly in a way that any previous generation could possibly have recognised. Rock ‘n’ roll not only changed what it meant to be a teenager forever, it has also changed what it means to be a pensioner forever. Happy 50th The Who!
I Can’t Explain
Who Are You
The Kids Are Alright
I Can See for Miles
Pictures of Lily
Behind Blue Eyes
Join Together You
Better You Bet
I’m One Love, Reign O’er Me
So Sad About Us
A Quick One (While He’s Away)
See Me, Feel Me
Won’t Get Fooled Again
This is a band that had been vaguely on my radar for some time, but a local gig just up the road for me in New Cross provides an easy opportunity to get better acquainted with the driving hard rock of Slam Cartel. And I’m pleased I did.
Formed in 2009 and releasing their debut album in 2011, this is a band that is well worth catching. There are some classic hard rock influences, some Seattle-style grunge influences and a powerful but melodic feel to their overall sound. It works well. Undergoing various line-up changes since their formation the band has now settled down to Gary Moffat (lead vocals), Damo Fawsett (lead guitar), Terence Warville (rhythm guitar), Mark Neudeck (bass) and Steve Campkin (drums).
The New Cross Inn, which I spent many nights in when I was a student over the road at Goldsmiths, has undergone something of a makeover since my student days. The big Victorian circular bar, which dominated half the pub and always made the experience of seeing a band or even the DJ an extremely cramped affair, is no more. This creates a lot more room in the pub. But does mean there’s now a lot more space to fill and, sadly, this Sunday night gig a very sparse affair. The band do not let this dampen their performance though. Charismatic and flamboyant frontman Gary Moffatt performs as if the band are playing to a packed house at the Hammersmith Apollo or taking the stage at Sonisphere. But rather than this all looking rather incongruous and a little ridiculous in a half-empty pub in New Cross, the band carry it off. Incredible energy (and volume!), strong songs, catchy choruses, driving guitars and powerful drumming – this is a band that should be playing to much bigger audiences than those of here tonight.
Opening with the wonderfully infectious Wishing Eye, the opening track of their debut album, they immediately command attention with a song that gets you enthusiastically nodding along as if you’ve known it for years. Other songs in the set like Free Again and Vanishing Worlds exemplify that same energy. Lead vocalist Moffat picks up a semi acoustic guitar for the slower and more atmospheric Breathe, which is followed by an airing for the bands great new single Hypnotised. Less raw with more of a commercial feel it’s a good showcase for hopefully bringing the band to the attention of a wider audience. After a minor technical hiccup the set is finished off with another track from the original album, Sundown.
Although a disappointing turnout this was a great gig with incredible energy and the band are now firmly on my radar.
Handful of Dreams