One of the great cult bands, Leafhound are still very much a going concern, but tour frustratingly infrequently. This show was on singer Pete French’s stamping ground, though the younger generation who have picked up on Leafhound as an influence on the stone rock movement were almost totally absent. Instead this club, which pays homage to the sixties roots of the likes of the Stones and Yardbirds in this part of suburban London sometimes called ‘God’s Own Borough’, played host to its usual clientele of mature years.
Opener ’105 Degrees’ with a typically sweet solo from guitarist Luke Rayner led into a lengthy ‘Work That Body’ with several changes of tempo, from their classic ‘Growers Of Mushroom’ album from the turn of the seventies. Pete is the only remaining member from those days but as well as still looking the rock god part, his voice has aged extraordinarily well at a time of life when many of the great classic rock vocalists are sadly losing it.
However most of the first set featured songs from the reunion album ‘Unleashed’ which I still hope may be followed up after nearly a decade, including the slow burning, bluesy ‘Nickels And Dimes’. Many of the songs, notably ‘Stop Look And Listen’ had a distinct Cream feel particularly in Luke’s guitar work, and though the ‘Crossroads’ influence in ‘Too Many Rock n Roll Times’ was arguably too blatant, it certainly got a few people practising their dance moves before a lengthy ‘With A Minute To Go’ closed the first set.
One of the pleasures of Leafhound is the opportunity the arrangements of the song afford to hear each instrument clearly. Jim Rowland’s drumming is precise and subtle while the newest band member Pete Herbert cuts a unique figure, swinging his bass around and stomping on the stage, looking like a cross between Wilko Johnson and the Pub Landlord, but in highly effective fashion, even playing a mini solo in the middle of ‘Overtime’.
The second half of the set focused more on their vintage days including the Zeppelin-esque ‘Stagnant Pool’, the huge, dark riff of ‘Freelance Fiend’ and closing song ‘Drowned My Life In Fear’. ‘Barricades’ rocked harder than expected while ‘Evil’ from Pete’s days with Cactus put the heavy into heavy blues. In contrast ‘Decision/Indecision’, a warm up for his summer shows with a new Atomic Rooster line up, had a mellow, reflective feel.
There was a solitary encore but surprisingly of a cover in ‘You Really Got Me’. It was a lively version but I was a tad disappointed that many of their own mainstays such as ‘Breakthrough’ and ‘Growers Of Mushroom’ were omitted as a result. Nevertheless the band had been on good form, demonstrating that the Leafhound cult legend is still very much alive and in safe hands.
Review and Photos by Andy Nathan
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