Since they reformed in 2009, Sweden’s own self proclaimed funk-o-metallers Electric Boys have been regular visitors to these shores, with this tour at least their fourth by my reckoning including festival appearances. Perhaps it is this over familiarity that has led to some disappointing turnouts at their London shows, with even the Underworld only filling to around half capacity with a late surge of people.
The latecomers missed a fine set from Norfolk band Bad Touch who were a revelation to me. I vaguely remember seeing them on a previous occasion when for all their enthusiasm there was little to set them apart from other glam metal revivalists like New Device and JettBlack.
However on this occasion they revealed new depths as the set wore on – as well as being tight with some spot on backing vocals and the admittedly reserved Rob Glendinning letting loose with some fine solos, what really surprised was the bluesy feel to their work on the likes of ‘Waste My Time’ and ‘Someone Somewhere’.
Particularly impressive was ‘Halfway Home’ with a countrified intro worthy of the Stones or Faces, although at times the Black Crowes vibe was a tad too pronounced with ‘Good On Me’ owing a tad too much to ‘Jealous Again’. Singer Stevie Sparrow, with facial topiary that made him look like Justin Hawkins playing one of the Three Musketeers, had a commanding stage presence and a strong voice.
They only made one false step with a cover of ‘Rock and Roll’, which though competent enough was one for the Friday night pub circuit, before the hard hitting ‘Down’ ended a set that marks them out as a band to watch with more to offer than many of their more hyped contemporaries.
Headliners Electric Boys now boast all of their original members, but to prove this was mo mere nostalgia trip they opened with a pair of songs from their new Starflight United release in ‘Spaced Out’ and the catchy ‘Desire’. ‘Knee Deep In You’ got the older material off to a rather false start, but ‘Mary In The Mystery World’’s psychedelic feel was enhanced by some spontaneous jamming.
The never changing Conny Bloom remains one of rock’s coolest stars, his curls and nonchalant attitude giving him the air of a glam metal Ian Hunter and when he took to lead guitar his solos bounced off the more restrained but incessant rhythms of the more low-key Franco Santuione.
Of the post comeback material ‘If Only She Was Lonely’ also impressed and ‘Angel In An Armoured Suit’ went down very well with even a singalong, but it was the older songs, particularly from the debut , that people had come to hear.
‘Electrified’ got into a marvellous groove, calling to mind Toys In The Attic-era Aerosmith before ‘Rags to Riches’ got the crowd singing along and ‘Captain of My Soul’ saw the band get into the sort of jamming grooves that few heavy rock bands can.
However to my surprise that was the end of the set, barring a solitary albeit lengthy encore of ‘All Lips and Hips’ which took the set length to a shade over an hour, well short of the ‘union rate’ for a band with several albums behind them. As the Underworld crowd joyfully shook their thing, it was easy to be transported back to our younger days when this was a guaranteed dance floor filler at rock clubs.
Far from being stuck in a rut, Conny and Co have still got that swing, but next time a longer set would ease the slight sense of disappointment I left with on this occasion.
Review and photos by Andy Nathan
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In this two hour special David Randall plays a selection of the GRTR! reviewer choices for ‘Best of 2019′ and announces the results of the popular poll. First broadcast Sunday 22 December 2019.
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