This review was also published by Get Ready To Rock here
A decade or so ago glam punk outfit the Towers Of London were steadlily building up a reputation. Tours supporting the likes of the Pogues and the New York Dolls. Festival slots at Reading and Leeds and Download. But then came lead singer Donny Tourette’s appearance on Celebrity Big Brother. Pissed, bratish and annoying, the Sex Pistols with Bill Grundy this was not. It was more like a bad episode of Grange Hill. An equally ill-chosen appearance on Never Mind The Buzzcocks only made things worse and though the band soldiered on for another couple of years it was pretty much all over.
Fast forward to 2018, however and they are back. “I’ve been following these guys for a while – they’ve now grown up, sorted their shit out but importantly they still retain their bite. This album blows the shit out of what they’ve done in the past!” says former Oasis manager/Creation Records boss, Alan McGee, in the publicity blurb.
So I popped along to the New Cross Inn, south-east London, to see for myself what these guys are up to nowadays. And the verdict? Yes – the band deliver a great energetic set and have, indeed, got their shit together. New single ‘Send In The Roses’ is a superb slice of anthemic, catchy glam-punk meets indie disco. Their new material is sounding great and, of course, there’s a few songs from their early days, too – raucous punky work-outs like ‘Air Guitar’ and ‘Fuck It Up’ and campy New York Dolls-esque ditties like ‘How Rude She Was’. The world needs a few more bands like this and it’s good to see them back in business.
The Towers forthcoming new album ‘Super Sounds Of K-Town’ will be released in spring this year. We all deserve a second chance at times. I genuinely hope this band do well and, hopefully, stay around for a little longer this time.
Catch the new video for ‘Send In The Roses’ here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LMAEVHnJY2k
Raucous sounds, catchy tunes, dark lyrics and a whole lot of fun, Blackbeard’s Tea Party have been making a splash on the folk scene for some time now.
As well as loud electric guitar from Martin Coumbe and pumping electric bass from Tim Yates, what really makes this folk act rock is the presence of powerful duel percussionists, Liam “Yom” Hardy and Dave Boston, making Blackbeards’s Tea Party kind of the folk world’s answer to the Glitter Band. Laura Boston-Barber provides spiky, tuneful fiddle playing throughout. Stuart Giddens on lead vocals and melodeon was not the original singer but he’s been with the band several years now and his vocal delivery and hyperactive stage presence have meant he’s truly made the role his own, such that it would be difficult imagining anyone else filling it.
They’ve got a new album to promote “Reprobates” – featuring songs about a range of characters who are all engaged in activities that are either “illegal, immoral or ungodly” explains Giddens with a fair degree of relish. It’s literally just out in time for this gig so we get to hear a a selection of new song, like album opener The Steam Arm Man – about a soldier who loses an arm at Waterloo, builds himself a replacement which unfortunately turns haunted and takes him on a murderous rampage.
We do get a few old crowd favourites as well, such as the sing-along-and-do-the-actions-Agadoo-style Chicken On a Raft (it’s based on an old saying about sailors’ rations I understand and not “Chicken in a Wrap” as numerous of my friends have innocently sung while watching the band.)
I was lucky enough to see Blackbeard’s Tea Party at Cropredy festival in 2014 where they absolutely stormed the place. But they are just as enjoyable up the road in my local, The New Cross Inn, where they also stormed the place. They gig extensively and are well worth catching.
Previous review: Blackbeard’s Tea Party at Cropredy
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