The Bottom Line + Diamond Days + Saving Sebastian
Thursday 12th January
Camden Assembly, London
January tends to be a quiet time for live music: most bands are looking forward to a few weeks off after a hectic December; fans (and their wallets) need a period of recovery after their excesses over Christmas and the New Year. So, starved of live music since the start of 2017, I was quick to accept the opportunity to witness the launch of The Bottom Line’s latest EP ‘I still Hate You’ at the Camden Assembly on Thursday. The Bottom Line are an energetic Pop Punk band hailing from the UK South Coast, but now based in London. Their debut EP ‘Another Pop Punk EP’ was released in 2012, followed by their more successful ‘Role Models?’ in 2013. Regular UK tours, gigs at venues across Europe and Asia, and a steady stream of new material have helped the band build a small but loyal fan base - many of them at the Camden Assembly on Thursday. Initially, the name of the venue threw me - surely not yet another live music venue in Camden, which has more than its fair share already. I eventually realised the Assembly was what I knew as the Barfly, taken over by the Colombo Group (who also run the Jazz Café, the Blues Kitchen outlets and XOYO) and, after an extensive refurb, relaunched as the Camden Assembly in September. The Assembly has retained many features of its predecessor: a ground floor bar, an intimate first floor club/concert room, a focus on emerging talent - and added a few of its own: a new music system and its own wide range of drinks, including craft beers but, alas, no real ales.
The evening got off to an inauspicious start. I’d decided to make the most of my time in London by starting off with a game of 5-a-side at Finsbury Leisure Centre - hoping to take off a few of those extra pounds I’d inevitably gained over the Christmas period. What I hadn’t expected were the blizzard conditions, heavy snow, partially flooded pitch and freezing temperatures, which all peaked around 6pm, right in the middle of our 45 minute slot - the worst playing conditions I’ve experienced in my 50 years of 5-a-side! AJ fared even worse. As we were a player short, he’d agreed to resume his illustrious, but recently on hold, football career. Unfortunately, I’d failed to mention the Finsbury pitches are outdoors - his flimsy T-shirt and plimsoles weren’t exactly ideal protection from the elements! At least the conditions helped with the weight loss - as well as the calories needed to stay warm, many more were burnt by the perpetual motion essential to avoid frostbite!!
An hour later we arrived at the Assembly, still cold and damp, hoping for some hot and heavy music to revitalise our frozen fingers and tormented toes! Openers Saving Sebastian, a 4-piece Pop-Punk band from Hemel Hempstead, definitely didn’t disappoint. Their unique and fun stage presence, their down-to-earth attitude and Sonny Mayo’s exhilarating vocals, all contributed to an impressive performance of non-stop Rock. Their fast, raw and honest songs soon had our hands clapping and feet tapping - the perfect way to start regenerating some feeling in those lifeless fingers and toes! The momentum started by Saving Sebastian was maintained by the next band on, Diamond Days, an up and coming four piece Alternative Rock band from the North-West, based in Liverpool. They met on-line in 2014, coming together to combine their influences and create their own unique sound. They certainly succeeded: the result is a heady mix of Pop-Punk, Alt-Rock and New Wave Metal that works surprisingly well, despite its occasional description as “A fusion of Panic”! Highlights of the set were 2015 single ‘Love Struck Kids’, high-tempo with a great chorus, and ‘People Change’, an infectious single from last year with a rousing start that never explodes but continues to fuel the growing harmonic and melodic roar. With The Bottom Line waiting in the wings, Diamond Days had to cut their set slightly short, so organised an audience vote for which of their intended last three songs they should actually play. The crowd’s loudest roar was for ‘Kings and Queens’, another bouncy number that had their fans gyrating in all directions.
It was now time for headliners The Bottom Line, veritable veterans in comparison with their support acts. The band was formed way back in 2011 by drummer Matt Bicker, bassist Max Ellis and two guitarists, Callum and Tom. Callum also provides lead vocals and writes most of their lyrics; Max is an active support vocalist. Their current tour, comprising 23 gigs in the UK and across Europe, is to promote their latest EP, ‘I Still Hate You’, which is formally launched at the Camden Assembly this evening. Unsurprisingly the EP takes up a large part of this evening’s set list, from the 100mph ‘Pull Me Out’ to the sepia-tinged swing of the title track. Add in the lively, melancholic, coherent sound of ‘Insecure’ and the raw hint of old school nostalgia in ‘When I Come Around’, and it is easy to see why the band have such enthusiastic audiences and their growing fan base. The Bottom Line’s strong stage presence had been evident from the moment they entered the stage, partly due to the improved, stronger lighting, partly due to the band’s obvious professionalism, but primarily due to the charisma and self-belief of front man Callum Amies. Callum is an expert at relating to and working his audience. Helped by the band’s melody bound riffs, rampant rhythms and the instant catchiness of their songs, he soon has them clapping, bouncing, dabbing and even, at one stage, crowd surfing, at will. The only time for a break in the perpetual motion generated by the set is when Callum is left alone on stage for a (slightly) quieter, (slighfly) slower solo. But not for long; within minutes the rest of the band return for a fabulous finale and all hell broke loose again - on stage and off it!
Thursday may have been freezing outside, but the temperature inside the Assembly rose steadily as The Bottom Line delivered another explosive live performance characterised by their standout ability to interact with the audience. The Assembley’s concert room was more than half full and would almost certainly have been fuller but for the inclement external weather - the absent coach potatoes definitely missed out!!