Mad Sin
US Bombs
The Generators
The Deep Eynde
The Ski King
Underworld, London
Sunday April 10 2005
~ review and photos by Uncle Nemesis

There's an atmosphere of mingled celebration and relief in the Underworld tonight. This gig marks the final night of a 16-date European tour put together by the People Like You label of Dortmund, Germany, who, in true 'cut the crap and make it happen' style thought it would be a fine idea to take a bunch of their bands out on the road and lay waste to innocent music venues across eight countries. It's a real package deal, with the show starting even before the first band has appeared on stage. The tour compere, The Ski King (nope, I don't know why he's called that, either) comes out to formally bid the audience welcome, introduce the bands...and sing a few Elvis covers to a backing track. That's a faintly surreal thing in itself, but he's a genial, witty presence and actually has a rather good voice, and he manages to pull a smattering of early-doors punters to the front to witness the first band of the night...

The Deep Eynde. And I'm surprised. Because every reference to The Deep Eynde I've ever seen on the web or elsewhere, every photo, description, write-up or review, has given me the distinct impression that the band are some sort of noir-styled deathrock outfit, all face-paint and dramatic spookyness. And yet, now that I see them before my very eyes, they reveal themselves to be a perfectly straightforward ramalama punk band. Sure, they're pretty good at being a straightforward ramalama punk band, don't get me wrong - they have a muscular, punchy, sound, and Fate Fatal is a fine frontman, cool and intense throughout. But the fact remains that they exhibit no evidence whatsoever of their supposed after-dark aesthetic. No deathrocky melodrama, no dark spark. They simply rattle through a set of rumbustious punker anthems, and that's that. It's possible, I suppose, that The Deep Eynde have deliberately decided to soft-pedal the gothy stuff on this decidedly punk-oriented tour, but the fact remains that this wasn't what I was expecting from the band. I thought they'd be like a cross between Bauhaus and the Stooges. Instead, they're more like Chron-Gen on steroids.

Some more rock 'n' roll crooning from The Ski King, who now appears to have equal numbers of fans and hecklers, and then it's time for The Generators. If you cut this band's veins open I'm sure they'd bleed pure Essence Of Clash. They wear their principal influence unashamedly on their sleeve. Without ceremony, they proceed to hammer out a set of terse, staccato songs, most of which contrive to sound uncannily like 'Clash City Rockers'. The frontman has even adopted Joe Strummer's minimalist rocker look, all cropped hair and angsty expression, as he barks out the lyrics. There's no doubting the band's commitment to the cause of righteous, rumbustious, rock 'n' roll, though, and while I must admit I'd prefer to hear The Generators ring the changes a bit when it comes to their overall sound and style, it's still good to hear a bit of old-skool punk rock blasted out with such conviction.

The Ski King gives us another musical interlude, and then introduces the only British band on the bill - and the only band that isn't entirely a bunch of blokes. Deadline come from the badlands of east London (well, OK, Gravesend) and feature an energetic, assertive female vocalist, who manages to combine a cheery good humour with a certain undercurrent of don't-mess-with-me sassiness. She bounds around the stage as if she's made of coil springs, hurling herself forward to deliver a lyric and then stepping back, casting an appraising eye over the audience as the boys in the band crank it up. She's certainly the band's best asset as far as the on-stage spectacle goes: the lads by and large keep themselves in the background, squinting at their fretboards and allowing their energy-packed singer to carry the show. Deadline make a fast, furious bubblegum-punk racket - the two covers in their set, 'Sheena Is A Punk Rocker' and 'Hanging On The Telephone' dropping clues to their love of punky pop. But it's one of their own songs, the fizzing riot of energetic new wave-isms that is 'Out Of Luck' that hints at potential greatness. It's a speedfreak party of a tune, a freaky, catchy anthem which wouldn't sound out of place on the first two Blondie albums. If the band have more where that one comes from, I'll stick my neck out and predict big things for them.

By now The Ski King's between-band singalong interludes have become a little more contemporary. Out go the Elvis numbers - in comes a cover of Johnny Cash's cover of Nine Inch Nails' 'Hurt', rendered faithfully in the heart-wrenching Cash style. And if that seems surreal, you ain't seen nothing yet. Because here comes our next band: the US Bombs, and blow me down if they're not a bizarre cross between Guns 'n' Roses and the UK Subs. Now, there are two band names that you'd never normally see mentioned in the same sentence, but somehow the US Bombs manage to combine the wasted, low-slung swagger of Axl's gang with the unpretentious blare of Charlie Harper's bunch of scruff-bag street ruffians. Over in the glam corner there's a guitarist, shooting riffs from the hip and throwing shapes like he's just strolled in from Sunset Strip, and centre stage there's a vocalist, sweat-soaked and hollering fit to bust. The band kick up a massive racket, and the mosh kicks off like nobody's business. US Bombs have a rabid bunch of fans down the front who choose to express their devotion in a free-for-all ruck. You may gauge the intensity of the mêllée by the fact that one bloke breaks his ankle in the scrum - and then simply sits on the stage to watch the rest of the set. All of this doesn't seem to upset the band's junior fan club - in amongst the colliding bodies there are some young fans who I'm sure haven't even reached their teenage years yet. Their stamina puts me to shame, as I discreetly hang back until the all-in wrestling match of the swirling pit subsides at end of the set. That was....impressive, although I'm not sure if the show belonged to the band or the fans.

It's getting close to headline time now, and The Ski King gets the crowd in the mood with a selection of uptempo tunes. He does a very creditable impression of Jack White's squeal on the White Stripes' 'Seven Nation Army', and then morphs into Lemmy for Motorhead's 'Ace Of Spades', complete with guitar soloing on the mic stand. But then it's time to wheel on the heavy artillery. Mad Sin have the line-up of a rockabilly band, stand-up bass and all, and the sound of a punk rock freight train derailment. They're loud and brash and they don't believe in playing their songs at anything less than 100mph. The band members are all done up in rock 'n' roll glam rags (I particularly liked the matching nail varnish), but the undeniable focal point of the whole crazy caboodle is the frontman. Huge and boisterous, hurling himself about the stage like a be-tattooed psychobilly version of the late great Divine, he gradually becomes more and more camp as the show progresses. I can't decide if this is a deliberate ploy, or whether his natural persona is simply revealing itself as the excitement of the show takes hold, but his gestures become more exaggerated and his between-song banter becomes more risqué with every number. The expressions on the faces of the audience range from bemused incomprehension to outright delight as he gives shout-outs to all the 'Homo rockers' in the house, and inquires solicitously 'How d'you like your ass?' It's all gloriously incongrous, an utter subversion of the traditional straight-as-a-die psychobilly band approach, and it makes for a hilariously entertaining show. But Mad Sin have more than just a crazy-camp frontman to entertain us. There's also Hellvis, a satanic Elvis lookalike, who takes a couple of lead vocals, and then comes back to breathe dangerous quantities of fire at the Underworld ceiling. There's the thrash-punk cover of Bob Marley's 'I Shot The Sheriff', and the one-woman stage invasion by a punkette in a black leather dress. Mad Sin are a wild carnival of punked-up weirdness, a no-holds-barred assault on the usual band-on-stage routine, an escaped fairground attraction with very loud guitars. Decidedly warped, and definitely brilliant.

see all the photos from this concert here

Mad Sin:

US Bombs:


The Generators:

The Deep Eynde:

The Ski King:

People Like You Records:

The Underworld: