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