Camden Rocks Festival – 3 June 2017 Print E-mail
Written by Nev Brooks   
Sunday, 11 June 2017 05:00

Where do you start? I remember looking at the line-up doing a one’s to watch piece, carefully planning where I would be throughout the day and then when you get there you get caught up in the atmosphere and everything goes out of the window. Best laid plans and all that…  Let’s just take in the blurb for a minute to illustrate a point: ‘250 bands over 25 venues’… there were always going to be clashes.


Camden Rock Poster


Arriving in Camden early I have to start with how well organised things are: a team who very obviously knew exactly what they were doing and on top of everything, with a day of glorious sunshine and an atmosphere to match… everyone out for a good time. So where did I start?


It was always going to be in The Electric Ballroom and as the clock hit 1:45 The Urban Voodoo Machine hit the stage and really got the party started, it’s the first time I’ve caught the guys on Home soil and boy did it show with how full the venue was at such an early time!! The band absolutely nailed it, as you get through the theme and dive into ‘high jeopardy thing’ its party on!! Tracks like ‘Cheers For The Tears’ taking on a new meaning when you realize it was about a rumour doing the rounds of Paul Ronney Angel falling into Camden Lock drunk and leaving this mortal coil. ‘Orphan’s Lament’ got the crowd really moving as did ’Pipe And Slippers Man’… “Help me Jesus”, the party has well and truly started.


At this point it was my intention to catch Zodiac Mindwarp in The Underworld. But I changed my mind last minute and headed to The Brew Dog (acoustic) to catch Brandy Row. At the time I couldn’t say why, but boy was I glad I did? Arriving a little early, I caught the last couple of tracks from Suzi Stapleton – and, do you know what? She really piqued my attention and a mental note was made to check out her CD on sale. She has one of those raw rock and roll voices that demand attention and is definitely an artist that I need to revisit.


brandy row


Chatting to Brandy Row prior, what came over was a guy wrapped up in the music, very humble, but very focused. Hitting the first note and starting to sing resulted in one of those pick your jaw off the floor moments… what a voice, linking Tom Waits, Johnny Thunders and numerous other luminaires of this rock and roll lifestyle we all love: but his phrasing… wow, talk about in a very distinct style one all of his own. Tracks like ‘Consolidated’ and ‘Hold No Shame’ really opened up and breathed in the live arena, becoming something really special. You could hear a pin drop and that charged atmosphere stayed throughout the set. This guy deserves to go places and I would 100 per cent recommend that anyone who hasn’t done so yet checks out the EP released last year.


Suitably stunned but with no time to spare, a quick run across the road to Beat One to catch Aaron Buchananan And The Cult Classics. Fuck, were they tasty? What a performance! In a jammed to the rafters place they kicked the festival up another gear for yours truly. These guys will be huge, and the appreciative crowd I’m sure would agree. Imagine Aaron Buchanan crowd surfin’ in your local and you won’t be far away, because he was in somebodys! Packed with energy, tight as and really kicking some ass.


Time to take a breather, and stroll down to KOKO in another last minute change of plan to catch some of Carl Barat And The Jackals, and the Libertine-fronted band produced a nice punk rock noise whose influences were obvious, but none the less a tasty performance.


No time to waste and across to The Electric Ballroom to catch The Professionals. Now, that's how you do it! Classic punk, kicked up the arse and updated - and in former 3 Colours Red guitarist Chris McCormack what a frontman! The new Pledge campaign, duly pledged.


At this point I’ve begun to realize just how big the festival actually is and the standard of musicianship on show; whatever your bag there will always be something to watch. I mean I missed The Role Models to catch The Professionals… nothing to do with the stifling heat in The Black Heart.


uvm acoustic


Walking through Camden I hit the Kraken stage to once again catch up with The Urban Voodoo Machine, outside and acoustic; the guys’ third set of the day and let’s say they were just a teeny bit tired and emotional! And do you know what? They still provided one of many highlights of the day, with a very different set, containing ‘Lovesong’, ‘Heroin’, ‘Goodnite My Dear’ and a cracking ‘Orphan’s Lament’, but more than anything bringing an element of fun and mischief… I mean, who else could play the set with two of the band in deck chairs and a drummer playing rhythms with a cow bell? Stand proud the late J Roni-Moe.


This is one hell of a campaign, heading back to The Electric Ballroom for the headliner of the day (just the one I’d chosen), The Damned. Settling down and we’re off, and what a way to finish? Time just flew, the place was rammed and tracks like ‘Ignite’, ‘Street of Dreams’, ‘Lovesong’, ‘Second Time Around’ ‘Waiting For The Blackout’ and ‘Disco Man’ showed why these guys remain very firmly at the top of the tree. What a performance!


the damned2


At this point, I left The Damned finishing up in order to get a train back, not fancying a milk train ride and a nine hour journey, and passed by Tower Bridge en route to Waterloo, to get out to Egham for the car. I was unaware of the events of the night that unfolded until I turned on my stereo… It transpired that I was probably on the last train that got out before London was locked down by the latest terrorist atrocity. Listening to the reports really brought home the new dangers we face as music fans, especially if we frequent large venues/festivals or any event that constitutes a gathering.


We have to learn to become observant, be careful and, more to the point protect and look after each other. Will these idiots stop us? No! Fuck ‘em! But my heart really goes out to the families who lost someone this night. Stay safe people whatever style of events you prefer to watch the world has changed and we have to adapt.


  • PHOTO CREDIT: Kudos to Evie Brooks.


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