Eighties Matchbox B-Line Disaster @ Heaven

31st October 2010

The venue for tonight’s Halloween spectacular could not have been more apt. Descending into the bowels of Charing Cross station Heaven is a rustic place to say the least. The bare brick walls of the Railway arches with creepy deep red lighting casting an eerie glow, gave the sense you are in some barely habitable cavern (if you ignore the thumping sound system, the bar and hundreds of tipsy revelers of course). I really like this venue as it has great character & it’s vastly different to any others in London.

Kicking off the bulging line-up tonight were Arrows Of Love who were just finishing up their set upon our arrival. Their take on indie-rock was basically a mess of fuzz pedal distortion noise and the odd spiky riff. It was simple stuff which while not being unpleasant, was pretty bland.

The James Cleaver Quintet were the worst dressers of the evening with lead guitar donning a Tiger Suit and the Bassist sporting a rather racy pair of tights (trust me…not a nice sight). They played with a thrashy punk mentality and focused more on being loud and heavy than making cohesive melodic tunes. It felt like a rushed set rather than a fast paced punk extravaganza which indicates their lack of songwriting prowess. Entertainment wise they paraded about plenty making scary faces at the crowd making them a lively bunch. Plus the Bassist thought that life on stage was boring, so he climbed up to the speakers and thought he’d play from there, before dropping back in again! Overall a noisy metallic outpouring of rage that failed to engage the crowd.

Robots In Disguise were by far the most profession outfit of the night thus far (despite wearing capes). Their electro-centred pop rock was a welcome dose of catchy melodies, those which were lost on the earlier bands. They have clearly leaned a few tricks from their time in The Mighty Boosh as the Goth Girls, as they added some extra quirk and eccentricity to proceedings by leading out 2 huge costumed robots who danced alongside for the duration of the set. They were slightly gig rusty, but this didnt seem to matter. Saying that the first couple of tracks were tough to listen to while they warmed up their vocals.

The yelps and high pitched squeals is what passed for Robots In Disguise vocals, which remarkably fit their style to perfection. They played some cracking carefree tunes with some immediately familiar chorus’s and catchy guitar riffs such as The Sex Had Made Me Stupid Can’t Stop Getting Wasted. A very welcome set from a quirky duo which buoyed the crowd ready for tonight’s headliners.

An onslaught of flying beer, energy, elbows and grunts greeted Eighties Matchbox B-Line Disaster (if you want their full name) as they took to their dimly lit smoke filled stage. Before they could even get started the crazies most dressed in elaborate Halloween costumes were carving out a spot in mosh pit central, fit to burst with pent up aggression. It was quite a sight when the guitars buzzed into action. Zombies flailing, gothic ghouls fighting the undead with pogoing ghosts and vampires getting up close and personal with their victims. It could quite easily be the basis for a slightly deranged horror flick.

With their faces covered in face paint 80’s Matchbox piled huge darkly fuzzed up psycho blues riffs on top of crushing bass, all backed up with the haunted vocals of front man Guy McKnight (whose face paint made him look a bit like a Mexican Wrestler, only alot taller). He is a striking presence at the centre of the stage, delivering a vocals that count Dracula himself would have been proud of. It is the combination of him and lead guitarist Tristan McLenahan which make this band such an entertaining prospect. Highly energised riffs are played in such a reckless scuzzed up intensity they could have been drawn up from the deep dark unknown.

In the way set highlights, I loved the most of it! Stucking in my mind are the new album cracker Love Turns To Hate, flat out fuzz riffed Rise Of The Eagle and the rapid-fire vocals of Mission From God. This intensity they achieve is amazingly maintained over the entire set, with bundles of aggression thrown in for good measure. So much so, that sometimes this occasionally tipped over the balance of being downright intimidating. Especially when he started to get aggrieved with an unknown entity, throwing us a passioned middle finger before departing for his encore break.

On his return he hadn’t calmed one bit, hitting the guitar strings with such aggressive tendencies it’s amazing they did not snap under the stress. He also managed to “do a Pete Townshend“, he swung and connected damn hard with his monitor speaker. I’m not sure which came out worse of the exchange but Tristan crumpled in a heap of blown out energy to finish the song before finally leaving all a bit shocked at his antics.

The bands closest to the edge will always trump over those who are happy to sit in the comfort zone. For this they are deserving of the accolade of being one of the most exciting rock bands to see live in the UK today.

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