Crobot + The Bad Flowers + Dirty Thrills
Thursday 23rd June 2016
O2 Academy, Islington, London
Last Thursday night the WRC witnessed a brilliant night of high octane Rock at the O2 Academy, Islington - as we cast off our 'Referendum Blues' with a massive "yes" vote for headliners Crobot, on an evening which also saw very impressive support from both Dirty Thrills and The Bad Flowers. On a night of surprises - we couldn't believe that these three highly rated bands were playing the smaller of the two Academy venues upstairs. However, the intimacy of the smaller venue ultimately added to the brilliant atmosphere - ably demonstrated by openers Dirty Thrills.
Dirty Thrills have been on the WRC radar since we featured 'Hourglass' taken from their EP 'Sweetheart Of The Slums' in August last year - although this was the first we have caught them live. The promise of "unique, incendiary blend of rocked out rhythms, scorching solos and lung-busting blues laden vocals" was duly delivered by Louis James on vocals, Jack Fawdry on guitar, the mustachioed Aaron Plows on bass and Steve Corrigan on drums. In an 'in your face' half hour set, the hometown band mixed it up with tracks from both their self-titled debut album and 'SOTS' - for mine the stand-out being the classic 'No Resolve' which the guys incidentally played (along with 'The Man Who Lost His Way' and 'Feelin') on Vintage TV's Friday Night Rock Show the following evening! Now, following extensive touring, the guys are now concentrating on writing new material but will be playing The Lexington on Wednesday 20th July. Do not miss them.
Follow that - as Birmingham three-piece,The Bad Flowers, took to the Academy stage. In another half hour set - if you ever wanted the definitive power trio then these boys were it. Entering into the spirit of the last night of their mini-tour with the other two bands - the guys were indeed sporting Crobot t-shirts - nice touch. With Tom Leighton on guitar/vocals, Dale Tonks on bass/vocals and Karl Selickis on drums - the Brummies squeezed out every sinew of energy in a charismatic performance which did their Black Country Sabbath/Zeppelin heritage proud. Selickis' up and down Jack-In-The-Box drumming, Tonks' larger than life presence plus frontman Leighton's explosive delivery were never more evident than on 'Hurricane' with both 'Big Country' and 'Living The Dream' (a former WRC Vid Of The Day) - running it very close. Another great band to watch out for - and yes we literally bought the t-shirt!
The last time we saw Crobot was at The Underworld last November and they did everything it said on the tin: "blending Funk, Blues, Metal and good old-fashioned Rock 'n' Roll into a howling vortex of dirty groove Rock, specialising in endless good time Rock hooks that sound as inspired today as they would have on AOR radio in 1974!" Consequently Pennsylvania's supernatural riffers had returned to London to mesmerise fans with their dirty groove rock. As we wrote at that time - the challenge for Crobot was to be the release of their follow up album - given the success of the critically acclaimed Nuclear Blast debut album 'Something Supernatural'.
Reassuringly the Crobot roster was the same with Brandon Yeagley (vocals/harmonica), Chris Bishop (guitar), the manic Jake Figueroa (bass) and brother Paul Figueroa (drums) - and to be fair we did have a welcome sniff of some of their new material at The Underworld. The new album ‘Welcome To Fat City’ is due out on Friday 23rd September and accordingly the kicked off with 'Plague', 'Easy Money' (with Yeagley's trademark harmonica) and the storming 'Hold On For Dear Life' (which we heard before at The Underworld) - all from the new album - the initial excitement and anticipation palpable among those present. And for those yearning for a bit of 'SS' - well it doesn't get much better than these three consecutive belters - 'The Skull of Geronimo', seeing the awesome 'Wizards' live for the first time plus 'Chupacabra'.
The venue lended itself perfectly to the interaction between the band and the punters - with the mighty Bishop delighting his army of fans by pointing to them and occasionally high-fiving! The recently released new single 'Not For Sale' with it's reminiscent opening 'Lizzy' riff - re-enforced the undoubted quality of the forthcoming 'WTFC' before they went for another classic from 'SS' - La Mano De Lucifer - Bishop's haunting guitar intro leading us down the garden path to more on stage horseplay complemented by compulsory head-banging! The title track 'WTFC' showcased the tightness of the band - highlighting the extraordinary bass and drums of the brothers Figuueroa. If there is a frontman with better vocals or stage presence than Yeagley - then I have yet to see him - simply hypnotic - weaving and rocking his mic stand back and forth - cue his harmonica intro on 'The Necromancer'.
There was one more from 'SS' - 'Fly On The Wall' - before we were in the home run with four more new - but outstanding tracks from 'WTFC' - 'Blood On The Snow', 'Serpent Shepherd' (wow!) , 'Play Cool' and 'Moment Of Truth' - can't wait for 23rd September! They finished off with two from 'SS' - 'The Legend Of The Spaceborne Killer' and the encore 'Night Of The Sacrifice'. Once again you could not knock the energy and passion of Crobot's performance which was complemented by two superb support bands. Needless to say Friday morning's OMG factor was not only restricted to the UK's EU Referendum Brexit result!