6th February 2012
Our first band of the night had something of a personality crisis. To the un-informed this foot stomping fuzzed up blues trio kicked off as Mad Dog, playing some perky little riffs leaning heavily on the led zep wall of sound. But by mid set their vocalist/lead guitarist announced “As you know we have changed names” we are now called Born Mad. Was news to me, but thankfully their name change didn’t change the path of this really bright set of catchy numbers driven by enigmatic vocals and bold blues riffing with the occasional wandering voyage into trip-out psychedelia.
Mad Dog/Born Mad (or as Trews guitarist thought…Porn Mag!)
Far from being a “new” band, The Trews have been on my stereo since their brilliant 2003 debut “House of Ill Fame“, which still ranks as one of my favourites. Not forgetting they were nominated for ‘New Group of the Year’ at the 2004 Juno Awards! To see them subbing on the bill in a new music showcase is rather disappointing, but I have to count blessings as this is the first time I’ve managed to get to one of their precious few London shows.
Showcasing their straight up non-nonsense, chorus driven pop, rock and roll, The Trews won many new friends this evening. Their songwriting was a clear head and shoulders above the rest of the night’s bands, providing thunderous guitars, immensely catchy sing-a-long moments and a fizzing lead guitar solos too boot. Songs such as the corking rocker “Misery Loves Company“, and the swaggering “So She’s Leaving” showed their talent for penning great riffs, while vocal centric bluesy strutters “Not Ready To Go” and “Poor Old Broken Hearted Me” had infectious melodies stamped all over them.
Their experience was evident as they inherently went off script with extended guitar solo’s (for which John Angus MacDonald routinely took up central stage rock god positioning,) intimate crowd/band banter and whole hearted crowd participation antics led by front man Colin MacDonald. These tunes were simply huge for a tiny venue such as this, but then after years of playing shows in their native Canada, this should not have been a surprise. Essentially this was a fantastic set of rousing popped up rock, all I’d hoped it would be.
Tonight’s headliners The Virginmarys are in fact making quite a name for themselves. After we caught them at the Forum supporting Ash in 2011, we couldn’t get enough, hence we back for more. The second blues trio of the night had a tough bill to top, but they set about their task with vigor and passion. The great thing about them is that they are so eminently watchable. With three excelling musicians on display from the driving bassist, the ecstatic drummer who smashed the skins with severe warrior like blows and the hazy front man on guitar and vocals piling on the riffs and saturating the air with rough and ready vocals, careering from deep and soulful to range busting howls.
Each song steeped in the blues managed to grab either the attention with either a cracking vocal melodies or a treat from their over-stocked arsenal of rawkus guitar licks. all hot and bothered “Bang, Bang, Bang“. A surefire hit already within the rock scene, let’s hope the Virginmarys go on to deliver the debut album we’re all waiting for!