Gig review: THE TREATMENT – Islington O2 Academy, London,13 May 2016

David Randall caught up with The Treatment’s Mitchel Emms after the first night of the current tour.  In this exclusive feature Mitch describes his own musical development against the background of a difficult music industry and the rising force that is The Treatment.  With tracks from their current album, ‘Generation Me’. (53:39)

THE TREATMENT - Islington Academy, London,13 May 2016

After being catapulted into the spotlight as teenagers and within 18 months landing a prestigious slot on the Kiss and Motley Crue US tour, the past couple of years have seen The Treatment undergoing some growing pains, as different images and more importantly key band members have come and gone.

But their new album ‘Generation Me’, with new singer Mitchel Emms marks a new chapter forward, and this was a debut UK tour for their new line up. It was sad though that the Academy was probably only around half full, though in fairness one of London’s increasingly frequent gig clashes did not help, as Magnum and Vega down the road certainly accounted for a number of my ‘gig buddies’ who otherwise would have been present.

Airrace - Islington Academy, London,13 May 2016

Keeping it in the family, a value three band bill was opened by Airrace, guitarist Laurie Mansworth assembling a new line up after putting the band on hold for a few years to focus on managing The Treatment who boast his son Dhani.  Indeed the latter did a double shift, manning the drum kit for Dad’s band.

Fortunately the new line up still included a dapper looking Keith Murrell, whose soaring vocals, belted out with great passion, give the band their hallmark sound. As they opened with ‘I Don’t Care’, it was evident that reverting to a single guitarist gave the keyboard s- expertly delivered by a cowboy-hatted Linda Kelsey-Foster – more space to breathe and suited their AOR sound.

Airrace - Islington Academy, London,13 May 2016

The rockier ‘Caught In The Game’ and ‘Not Really Me’ followed, Keith mentioning that all the songs would come from their 1984 cult classic ‘Shaft Of Light’ which meant my homework revisiting the reunion ‘Back To The Start’ album went to waste!

After ‘Promise To Call Me’ and ‘First One Over The Line’, they ended a short 25 minute set with the epic ‘Brief Encounter’ which has become a vehicle for Laurie to show his paces . Despite the odd gremlin, I enjoyed every minute as an aperitif for what I hope will be a successful new chapter in the career of a band I have loved for 30 odd years.

Scottish all-girl trio The Amorettes instantly won brownie points by taking the stage to the strains of Slade’s ‘We’ll Bring The House Down’. As they opened with ‘Give Em Hell’ and ‘Get What’s Comin’, it was hard to avoid the cliché ‘feisty’ to describe their no nonsense approach which, like Rock Goddess and Girlschool all those years ago, seek to take on a male dominated world on their own terms rather than playing the gender card.

The Amorettes - Islington Academy, London,13 May 2016

They were an impressively tight unit with siblings Heather and Hannah McKay working well as a rhythm section, but the songs were three chord rock n roll at its most basic. Nevertheless singer/guitarist Gill Montgomery had no difficult whipping up singalongs on the likes of ‘Too Much Is Never Enough’ and ‘Take Cover’.

The Amorettes - Islington Academy, London,13 May 2016

In many ways they peddle a similar no frills sound to the likes of Bonafide and Airbourne, though comparisons with the latter were reinforced by the unnecessary way Gill uses her shouting voice for in between song chatter. More singing along and fist punching to closer ‘Hot And Heavy’ demonstrated that – whatever my reservations – The Amorettes are building up a real head of steam.

As if anxious to make up for lost time, The Treatment hit the stage with extraordinary reserves of pent up raw energy, opening in fine style with the lead off cut from the new album ‘Let It Begin’, followed by ‘Cry Tough,’ which had enough hooks for two songs.

The Treatment - Islington Academy, London,13 May 2016

Bassist Rick Newman, sporting the most extravagant of Mohicans, was constantly whipping up the crowd while open-chested Tagore Grey, guitar slung low, pulled some great axe hero poses. His new guitar partner, 18 year old brother Tao, was quieter in his approach, easing himself in gently but the two several times combined for some very satisfying harmony leads.

As for Mitchel, he had the youth and energy to fit in well with the band – even if at one point he did swing a set of speakers rather dangerously! – and an engaging personality, with his fair hair not the only comparison I was drawing with Erik Gronwall of H.E.A.T., a band who never looked back from changing singers.

The Treatment - Islington Academy, London,13 May 2016

The way the title track with its strong chorus generated an audience response suggested that their second album ‘Running With The Dogs’ is now unfairly neglected. The dynamism and energy levels on stage were phenomenal, and the band’s AC/DC influenced riffing raw and razor-sharp, though I had reservations about the quality of songs like ‘I Bleed Rock n Roll’ and ‘Bloodsucker’, as I thought the very basic approach was underselling themselves.

After the title track from the new album, a rare oldie in ‘The Doctor’ moved the crowd and, though with a cleaner less throaty tone than his predecessor Matt Jones, Mitchel had no difficulty adapting. For me the highlight though was their current single ‘Backstreet Heartbeat’, a prime slice of melodic rock with a hook to die for.

The Treatment - Islington Academy, London,13 May 2016

As an “AOR Head” more in that vein would have suited me fine, but instead Mitchel said ‘enough of the ballads’ and as they launched into ‘Drink, F***, Fight’, the knot of people jumping around at the front which was steadily growing turned into a full on mosh pit. After the dynamic ‘Emergency’ another old favourite in ‘Shake The Mountain’ saw me tempted into the pit, only to think better of it within seconds.

Indeed by the time of sole encore, as the band roused the rabble with a drawn out ‘Get The Party On’, there were only a few of us round the edges of a chaotic scene which could have come out of a punk gig at the 100 Club or Marquee back in the day.

It was, I suppose, proof of the effect that the energy and verve of a Treatment live show can have, and with this new line up in place surely future success can be sustained.

Review and photos by Andy Nathan
The Treatment photos by Darran Scott

Album review (The Treatment, Generation Me)

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