see all the photos from this show here 

Dead Heaven
Devonshire Arms, London
Friday February 21 2003
~review and photos by Uncle Nemesis

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:

Flag Promotions:

Bishop's Finger:

Old Peculier:

Reviewed by Uncle Nemesis: