|see all the photos from this show here
Devonshire Arms, London
Friday February 21 2003
~review and photos by Uncle
We're back again in the Dev for one of
Flag Promotions' band-in-a-corner-of-the-pub gigs. To any band which has
previously played in proper live music venues the Dev must seem like a
right old lash-up: no real stage, no proper lighting, and a PA which looks
like someone's Hi-Fi up on sticks. You certainly need to suspend your disbelief
to accept this pub as a viable place for gigs. And yet, it can work. If
the bands are prepared to treat the occasion as a bit of a party, an impromptu
piss-up with guitars, then a Dev gig can be good, solid, unpretentious
fun. No prima donnas, just rock 'n' roll. That's the way to play it.
Before the bands start up, there's time
to avail myself of the refreshments on offer at the bar. Now, the Dev might
have the most alternative clientele of any pub in London, but the alternative-ness
does not, alas, extend to its range of drinks. It's just the usual big-brand
lagers, alcopops, and soft drinks. If you want a pint of CorporateFizz
beer-style drink from some multinational conglomerate, the Dev will happily
sell you several. If you'd prefer something
a little more interesting - a beer from one of the UK's small independent
breweries, for example - you're out of luck. It's not that I necessarily
want the Dev to offer Bishop's Finger by the bottle, or Theakston's Old
Peculier by the hogshead (although that would undeniably be a fine thing)
- but you'd at least expect them to be able to run to a pint of John Smith's.
It's akin to discovering a really cool-looking alternative record store,
and then browsing through the racks to find it only sells albums by Nickelback
and Phil Collins. So, stuck for choice as I am, I opt for a pint of Kronenbourg
(the beer equivalent to Nickelback), and, muttering petulantly between
swigs, I make my way up to the band-corner.
Dead Heaven are a melodic punk outfit who
- to my ears at least - draw upon all sorts of old-skool influences from
The Clash to The Jam. They're a four piece: they must've warped the very
fabric of spatial logistics to squeeze their drum kit on stage, but somehow
it fits. The drums power everything along with a jackhammer thunder that
sounds noticably more forceful than even the most belligerent backing track.
It's probably all down to the air pressure coming out of the drum shells,
or something. Over this fine racket two guitarists duel; one of them throwing
some very Strummer-esque moves as he whacks away at his semi-acoustic.
The vocalist churns away at the bass and fixes the audience with a basilisk
glare while hollering out the lyrics. It's tight, no-frills stuff, fast-paced
yet always controlled. I could imagine this band
supporting The Jam in the '80s - they've got that same single-minded cut-the-crap-and-do-it
approach (although, fortunately, not the suits or tasselled loafers). Quite
where Dead Heaven might fit in to the current music scene is a bit of a
mystery, given that 'punk' seems to be a synonym for airbrushed major-label
American alternorock these days. But I'm glad they're out there doing their
stuff, and their unpretentious straight-from-the-shoulder style works well
tonight in the prosaic setting of the Dev.
Corrosion are usually introduced with the
words 'stalwarts of the UK goth scene' or somesuch phrase,
for although Corrosion itself is still a relatively new outfit, the two
Corrosioneers, Matt and Paul, have plenty of past history in Matt's other
band, All Living Fear. It's tempting to draw comparisons between Corrosion
and All Living Fear, and certainly there are occasional similarities in
the sound - particularly when sampled choirs break out on the backing track.
That's a definite All Living Fear-ism. I remember Matt once telling me,
'When I write a song, I don't write a goth song - I write a rock song,
and then I put a choir on it so the goths will like it!' However,
by and large Corrosion are more rock than goth, and they kick up an impressively
rockin' racket. Paul is suffering from a bad throat, but you'd hardly know
it as he lets rip on the vocals and the guitar does that monster-riff thing.
In fact, the riffs are so monster that I'm struck by the thought that Corrosion
have, in truth, played themselves right out of the goth scene and into
the rock pool. The band both looks and sounds like a classic rock outfit
that's temporarily mislaid its bassist and drummer, and has decided to
don a rather ill-fitting gothic cloak until they find them again. The covers
give it away: a rather psychedelic 'Morning Dew' - hang on, isn't that
a Grateful Dead song? - and, as an encore, Led Zep's 'Rock 'n' Roll', upon
which Paul does a very fine take on Robert Plant's freaked-out
caterwaul (and this with a sore throat!). These songs, I suspect, reveal
where Corrosion are coming from...and perhaps where they'd like to go to.
Whether they'll be able to take the goth scene along with them is a moot
point, but I think the band are having too much fun just rockin' out to
worry too much about their position in the scene. A good-time rock set
from a good-time rock band, and again, just the sort of stuff that works
well in the decidedly un-luxurious surroundings of the Devonshire Arms.
There's time for another pint of Nickelback-beer
as the DJ starts up: for many of London's scene-people, the night is only
just beginning. I'm off home to allow my hangover to develop. CorporateFizz
always gives me a headache. It's been a good night, but I still wish the
Dev would get the Bishop's Finger in. As the actress said to the...
see all the photos from this show here
Dead Heaven: http://www.deadheaven.co.uk
Flag Promotions: http://www.flagpromotions.com
Bishop's Finger: http://www.bottledbeer.co.uk/beer.asp?BeerID=17
Old Peculier: http://www.bottledbeer.co.uk/beer.asp?beerid=294
Reviewed by Uncle Nemesis: http://www.nemesis.to