Heaven’s Basement & Jettblack @ The Underworld

Tonight’s show completes a trio of Heaven’s Basement shows witnessed by the doesitrock.net crew here in this great north London venue. After numerous lineup changes they seem to have finally settled into a new groove, one we hope will spin for a long time to come. Will this be third time lucky?

Once thing which can be said of all of their gigs here, the line-up’s have all brimmed with underground rock promise. The first band to hit up tonight’s stage was Earth Prayer. They  played radio friendly rollin’ stone style rock with bluesy guitar melodies and a female vocalist providing a soulful touch. Their songs were tidy and enjoyable, but they lacked any passion beyond that for retro rock n’ roll. With the rising success of similar bands such as St. Jude, Earth Prayer will have to improve quickly to keep up with the pack.

Earth Prayer

As the second band took to the stage, I couldn’t help but feel like I had seen this all before and I wasn’t about to enjoy what I was about to hear. After recovering from my déjà vous moment of mental regression, it quickly became apparent that sleaze rockers Dear Superstar had well and truly upped their game! Beefier rhythm’s and a greater focus on melody over attitude, this was a unexpected surprise of a set. They were at their best on newer material which made use of gang vocals and backed chorus’s to create bigger and more anthemic tunes. Their guitars scuzzed out plenty of dirty riffs, dueling licks and even the lead singer had become less in your face, and more likeable for it. With new material dropping soon, it may be time to give them a well earned second chance.

Dear Superstar

If the last band had doused some sleaze, the next band up and co-headliners Jettblack cranked it right back up again. Only difference is they play it in the tried and tested 80’s metal formula as perfected by Motley Crue. It could not fail to be great! Silly machismo lyrics (track names say it all, “Two Hot Girls“,”Get Your Hands Dirty” & “Mother Fucker“), laddish half naked posing, poodle perms all added to icing to their hard rock cake. If it wasn’t for their knack for writing cracking melodies, chunky riffs and nailing some awe inspiring 80’s guitar shreds they would sink like every other tribute band gone original.

Jettblack

As it was, this was a great little set of jubilant hi-five rocking anthems not to sing to your girlfriend! Special mentions need to be aired for the superb (if a tad scripted) guitar shred battle between lead guitarist and vocalist, and their set closing cover of the classic top gun anthem, Danger Zone…Maverick would have been down the front pumping his fist too.

After a turbulent period of departures and arrivals, you feel the new look Heaven’s Basement are settled and are here to stay., So it was with great apprehension that we stood and waited as the  music making trio appeared, leaving us all a little while longer, before finally catching a first glimpse of new full time singer, Aaron Buchannan. The suspense worked to their advantage and riding the initial screams Aaron launched into the title tune of their latest EP Unbreakable. The thundering guitars and rampaging riffs were kick ass, even if they did somewhat overwhelm the vocals at first.

Heaven’s Basement

With a new found vigor and sense of urgency they ran through some old classic tunes such as Can”t Let Go and Tear Your Heart Out. It’s after this I felt a comparison could finally be made on the vocals. Personally, I liked them! Despite often being dwarfed by HB’s monstrous melodies he always remained in tune and remained a lively presence at stage centre throughout. Although I’m not a fan of his dance moves, his signature move looks rather like a snake being charmed. His hunger and exuberance cannot be faulted, one feels he will only improve as his confidence grows. Tonight’s fine performance is a perfect platform to build on.

Aaron

With the impending new release we were treated to their first ‘actual’ new material, for quite a while. Leeches was a big rocking number with a scuzzy chorus, Paranoia now sung by guitarist Sid Glover and Let Me Out Of Here. The latter signals their first real foray into the rocky minefields of balladry, one they have traversed masterfully, retaining the epic chorus’s without going soppy. Sid’s guitar work here is especially great with a darker outlook through the deep brooding blues licks and wailing high bends.

Returning to live favourites Reign On My Parade and Executioners Day, the night rounded out with these stunning rockers. I command anybody not to bounce around like a crazed loony when the guitar’s kick back in again after Executioners hazy bridge interlude reaches its almighty crescendo.

Tonight was about the new look Heaven’s Basement and whether they can live up to the promise of those who have fallen by the wayside. I’m happy to report the future is bright, but there is a little way to go yet but there’s no doubt that these guys will go from strength to strength!

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