Wrathchild/Hangfire/Stop Stop - Crumlin, The Patriot - 24th February 2012 Print
Written by Gaz E   
Saturday, 03 March 2012 05:00

 

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Rock 'n' roll, and this might surprise some, doesn't always have to be about reinventing the wheel. Sometimes, good music, good company and good times baby, as the song once famously said, are all you need. Funny then that a modest night in a venue synonymous with wheels should be witness to a reinvention, a re-animation of sorts, rock 'n' roll in nature.

 

But I must not get ahead of myself. First I have to watch, happily, the night's opening act, Stop Stop. I saw this bunch of Spanish exiles late last year for the first time and they fair near blew me away. The band, stripped to a three piece since their relocation to the UK, are currently putting a shift in around the smaller venues of Great Britain, playing everywhere and anywhere and, if there is indeed any justice in this world, greater things beckon for this terrific trio.

 

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These guys, as their song tells us, were 'Born To Rock'. Frontman Jacob A.M. wears his bass low but sets his aim high: this mess of curls and greasepaint is a bona fide star in the making. Guitarist Vega, taking over sole six string duties with ease, is a complete throwback to another age, some quarter of a century ago, yet as agreeable a performer as you could hope to see. Drummer Danny manages to throw a drum solo into the mix before the set is out - a drum solo by the opening act of a three band bill, remember - that is as entertaining as the idea is ridiculous, and shaken up covers of 'Get Back' and 'Hush' infiltrate their classic take on cock rock.

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I was wearing a vintage Ratt shirt (in an ironic 'Rachel from Friends wearing an MC5 shirt' style, obviously) when I first met Jacob last year. "Bring back the '80s!" he yelled in my direction when he saw the garment hanging from my frame like a stitched orgasm and, y'know what, his band pretty much do that: in small pubs and clubs around the UK this wholly endearing bunch of Spaniards are administering fun and echoes of stadium rock in hefty doses - seek 'em out.

 

The swell of interest in front of the stage prior to the appearance of Hangfire takes me a little by surprise. With the ink still drying on the cover of their new album, 'Shoot The Crow', the buzz around these local lotharios is rumbling to a level more accustomed to that of a '50s giant killer insect movie.

 

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The sparks fly as soon as the eight legged rock machine tear into set, and album, opener 'Adrenalise', though this could be on account of the scores of dropped drumsticks hitting the wooden stage with the effect of kindling. Vocalist Max Rhead commands the stage in a surprisingly humble manner, bassist Bobby Goo to his left throwing out enough shapes for the two of them.

 

I was thrilled last month when Uber Rock's Matt Phelps conducted an interview with guitarist Lee ' Lizzy' Evans and never once mentioned that the fret fingerer was blind.hangfirelive300 It shouldn't matter with music, it really shouldn't, but live, well, it just has to be pointed out. This guy stands there and rips out one fat riff after another, faultless solo after faultless solo, and this kind of talent in the face of adversity should not be allowed to drift away without acclaim.

 

Single 'For Crying Out Loud' is welcomed, already, like an old friend while 'Bodies', heavy of riff, shakes at least a couple of the venue's beams loose. This is stripped back rock in its purest form, basic yet buoyant, that rattles through the body and hits the all the right buttons. You'd be hard pressed to argue, as set closer 'Drop The Bomb' fades into the dust, that the interest in Hangfire isn't warranted: a Summer drought, maybe a festival appearance or two, could see the flames of this fire fan out of control.

 

I saw Wrathchild a number of years ago when they were operating under the bastardized 'Psychowrath' moniker: they were good, it has to be said, but, compared to the energized outfit that hit the stage tonight with 'I Luv The Night', that former guise was but a shadow of the band in 2012.

 

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The reinvention complete, dayglo re-animation fluid injected into their veins, Wrathchild are, simply, born again.

 

There have been other members in this band over the course of their delirious history yet, tonight, you wouldn't know it: unless I missed the memo at the door that threatened punters with sticks and stones and 'my dad is bigger than your dad' playground polemic if they dared to mention any other names, there was zero interest, or reason it must be said, for anyone in the venue to hark back to earlier days.

 

Sure, there was a spattering of Wrathchild vintage over the set list but, and this could surprise people not in attendance to witness this brand regeneration, the set leaned heavily, almost entirely, in the direction of last year's 'Stakkattakktwo' long playered return - ten of the fourteen song strong set comes from this latest release - but you wouldn't know it: almost every song is met with audience approval, the front of the stage walled in by fans mouthing almost every word.

 

'Too Wild To Tame', from 'Stakk Attakk' first time around, follows the set opener but then leads into a seven song burst from the new album - 'Goin' Down', 'All About U', 'Cherie Cherie', 'White Hot Fever', 'Nice 'n' Eazy', 'Trick Or Treat' and 'I'll Be Your Rokk 'n' Roll' - that could easily have upset the purists.....but doesn't. It works, and works well.

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Gaz Psychowrath, like guitarist Phil Wrathchild, born to be in this band, has fashioned a winning stage persona and fronts the band with an added vigour: by the time '(Na Na) Nuklear Rokket' and 'Trash Queen' come around towards the end of the set the thought of him making the old songs his own is a distant memory.

 

That I am so deep into a Wrathchild review but have yet to mention the original members treading those boards and smashing those skins perhaps says everything about the band in 2012. Eddie Starr, looking as glamorous in full corpse paint as anyone cadaver right to, keeps the beat boiling over while his co-rhythmic reprobate Marc Angel, eyes mirrored with cop-like classic Aviators, marshals the bass that bubbles just under the surface.

 

'Hollywood Or Bust' and 'Bad Billy', again, from the latest album, bookend the customary 70 second walk from the stage and back again for the encores, with the classic 'Kick Down The Walls' closing the show in fine style.

 

How many bands, how many glam bands, from the '80s would play a fourteen song set in 2012 and play ten songs from their new album? Not fuckin' many, if any, I can assure you. This rejuvenated Wrathchild are happy to put their faith in a new album while others dwell on the past, and for that they have to be commended.

 

Forget about reinventing the wheel, Wrathchild have reinvented themselves and long may this machine (rock 'n') roll on.

 

[Photos by Tessa Blakout]

 

To pick up your copy of 'Stakkattakktwo' - Click Here