In the run up to this Borderline show came the sad news that this long-established venue is closing, leaving Central London with almost no rock venues. This reflects a wider trend of losing places that host live music, which is ironic since the rock scene has not been healthier for years with a number of rising bands in a diverse variety of styles under the broad banner of the New Wave of Classic Rock.
A trio of bands such bands began with Temple of One playing their first ever show. However two of them were two former Inglorious members, bassist Colin Parkinson with longer hair than I remembered and guitarist Drew Lowe (with a third in former guitarist Wil Taylor also in the audience). Unfortunately a late opening and ridiculously slow queue meant they were already on stage when I arrived.
Photo: Andy Nathan
Colin now provides lead vocals, and very respectably so, in a power trio whose sound owes next to nothing to his former band but was densely intricate and dark, yet also melodic, leading to comparisons with the likes of King’s X or even on occasion Soundgarden. Interestingly though their last number, ‘Next to You,’ had an entirely different feel with an urgent almost punky thrash.
However as a lover of all things melodic, the band I was most looking forward to was Collateral. The Kent rockers have had something of a meteoric rise over the past nine months, and their Four Shots EP shows real promise yet somehow I had managed to miss all their previous live shows to date.
This was their most prestige show yet and they certainly owned the stage – indeed after a false start with an intro tape, as singer Angelo Tristan swaggered on stage his shades (thankfully soon discarded) and rock star moves even briefly called to mind Tom Cruise as Stacee Jaxx. ‘Big Shot’ lived up to its name with the brashness of an early Skid Row.
A trio from the EP kept the momentum going as Angelo strapped on an acoustic guitar, with ‘Midnight Queen’, which reminds me of the Gin Blossoms, even featuring a singalong and ‘Going With The Wind’ in the anthemic, acoustic-driven mould of Bon Jovi or Tyketto. Showing the self-confidence and big gestures that belong on a larger stage than this, they even managed to generate a sea of phone lights for ballad ‘Just Waiting For You‘, during which guitarist Todd Winger broke into a quite outstanding lengthy solo.
The rest of the set was new material- while ‘About This Boy’ showed the country influences that Angelo admitted from the stage he brought to the band, ‘Promiseland’- preceded by a possibly unnecessary guitar solo- ‘Merry Go Round’ and the current single, the misleadingly titled ‘Lullaby’ all rocked hard and whetted the appetite very nicely for their first album which is due in the autumn.
Each band seemed to have brought their own following and there were plenty of T-shirts bearing the logo of headliners Daxx and Roxane. The Swiss quartet have also been building a name for themselves and had a no holds barred, high octane sound reminiscent of AC/DC and Airbourne, aided and abetted by the slightly high pitched rasp of singer and bassist Cedric Pfister , typical of so many mitteleuropa bands, going back to Krokus.
They certainly began their set at full tilt and there was much to admire in the on stage energy notably of twin guitarists Cal Wymann and Simon Golaz, the latter sporting a very natty feathered hat. However while the likes of ‘Girl Next Door’ and ‘Ticket To Rock’ were enjoyable enough I did find myself looking for a little more light and shade and dynamics in their set.
Photo: Andy Nathan
Fortunately as the set wore on songs like ‘Strange Woman’ and ‘Someone I Love’ obliged, drawing comparisons with fellow rising Europeans The New Roses, in between a cover of Stevie Wonder’s ‘Superstition’.
‘Wrong Side’ seems to be a crowd favourite judging from the way it was broken down into audience participation, then when they returned to the chorus people were bouncing in the air, while they played tight against the 10 o’clock curfew with a speeded up cover of ‘Jumping Jack Flash’; and one of their own, ‘Good Vibes’, which was the more satisfying of the two. For those who like their rock’ n’ roll basic and supercharged, the Swiss are one to be recommended.
Photo: Andy Nathan
It all made for a top Saturday night in which Collateral took the honours for me but three very diverse bands all delivered the goods and showed that, whatever the economics of gig venues, the music is in very good shape right now.
Review by Andy Nathan
Photos by Robert Sutton (except where stated)
David Randall presents a weekly show on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio, Sundays at 22:00 BST (GMT+1, repeated on Mondays and Fridays), when he invites listeners to ‘Assume The Position’. This show was first broadcast on 2 August 2020.
UK Blues Broadcaster of the Year (2020) Pete Feenstra presents his weekly Rock & Blues Show on Tuesday at 19:00 ( BST, GMT+1) as part of a five hour blues rock marathon “Tuesday is Bluesday at GRTR!”. The show is repeated on Wednesdays at 22:00, Fridays at 20:00). This show was first broadcast 4 August 2020.
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