Gig review: ROSE TATTOO & GIRLSCHOOL – 02 Islington Academy, London, 13 September 2018

Girlschool - HARD ROCK HELL, Pwllheli, 15 November 2014

Rose Tattoo’s first appearance in London in far-too-many years and it was hotly anticipated. And for those not familiar with the Aussie rock band, led by the short in stature but no way in attitude Angry Anderson, they formed in the mid 70s and have kicked some serious arse since. Think that early AC/DC boogie, and add several buckets of aggressive slide guitar and street-punk attitude.

And with London legends Girlschool in support we knew it was going to be a thoroughly enjoyable evening.

I met Girlschool guitarist and vocalist Kim McAuliffe before the show and after the obligatory hug she told me of the pressure they were under in terms of both time and guestlist (both quite restrictive). But it was good to catch up.

On entry to the venue, it filled up pretty quickly and compared to previous apparently sold-out gigs there, this one seemed oversold, it was VERY busy.  And I’ve not lived In London for over 3 years now, only visiting for the occasional gig, yet on several times I got “There’s a familiar face” from people I didn’t know.

Girlschool got a huge cheer when they took the stage, to a siren, and crashed into the classic ‘Demolition’. Their sound is at the glam end of the NWoBHM spectrum and as catchy as ever. Kim McAuliffe and Enid Williams sung their hearts out and lead guitarist Jax Chambers shredded with aplomb; blond bombshell or blond bomber – could have given Michael Schenker a run for his money.

The classic ‘Let’s Go’ with Denise’s drum intro followed, then ‘Hit And Run’. Then from the later Legacy opus was ‘I Spy’. This was a darker chunkier number, the original featuring moments of Dio and Tony Iommi.

As Jax later told me, she was living with original guitarist Kelly Johnson when the latter died and wrote this song shortly after, it came from a dark place. Some tracks from the latest Guilty As Sin album, then back to the early material, which they almost fell over themselves getting through, being pressed for stage time. But who’s to complain at closers ‘Race With The Devil’ and ‘Emergency’?

The venue was seriously uncomfortably heaving by the time Rose Tattoo took to the stage. Angry Anderson is a much loved character (and a character he really is). I interviewed him back in 2000 (with original guitarist Pete Wells) and he’s a true gent too.

Short in stature, shaven headed and tattoo laden, he has the character and heart as big as a mammoth, and still hard as a bag of nails. Opener ‘One Of The Boys’ showcased the band’s sound well. With no disrespect to the current line-up, Wells’ slide guitar had a special streetwise edge but guitarists Dai Pritchard and Bob Spencer played their arses off and kicked serious butt in the process. And not to forget bassist Mark Evens, he of several early AC/DC albums.

The first few songs were run through quickly, with the odd word from Anderson, but then his tongue loosened and there was more and more interaction. His control of the stage was as wonderful as the music. From the slower tracks, chunky and bluesy, to the fast and furious, the band rocked and the crowd loved every second.

Stand out track – has got to be ‘Assault And Battery’, a defining track and there is nothing more blistering than this track live onstage. Frantic, frenetic, furious, it’s all here.

Angry Anderson may be 71, but he’s still got it, and here’s the proof that the band are as worth checking out as they were in 1981.

Review by Joe Geesin

GIRLSCHOOL Setlist
Demolition Boys/C’mon Let’s Go/Hit And Run/I Spy/Come The Revolution/Take It Like A Band/Future Flash/Kick It Down/Watch Your Step/Yeah Right/Race With The Devil/Emergency
ROSE TATTOO setlist
One Of The Boys/Juice On The Loose/Man About Town/Assault & Battery/Tramp/Rock ‘n’ Roll Outlaw/The Butcher and Fast Eddy/OnceIn A Lifetime/Branded/1854/Rock ‘n’ Roll Is King/We Can’t Be Beaten/Bad Boy For Love/Remedy/Scarred For Life/Astra Wally/Nice Boys


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Power Plays w/c 15 October 2018

BIRDSONG AT MORNING Waterfall (Blue Gentian Records)
GUN RUNNERS Save Our Souls (indie)
THE BUZNIKS Nail It To The Floor (3MS Music)
NAZARETH The Secret Is Out (Frontiers)
CITY OF THIEVES Fuel And Alcohol (Frontiers)

Featured Albums w/c 15 October (Mon-Fri)

09:00-12:00 STEVE PERRY Traces (BMG)
12:00-13:00 URIAH HEEP Living The Dream (Frontiers)
14:00-16:00 BIRDSONG AT MORNING Signs And Wonders (Blue Gentian Records)

Albums That Time Forgot (Mon-Fri)

18:00-19:00 STEVE MORSE/SARAH SPENCER Angelfire (2010)



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