After a June spent primarily at festivals and stadium shows, it was time to reconnect with what live gig going is really about by visiting the Half Moon, one of the few remaining pub venues in London that has continually hosted live music. Better still, at a place that more usually hosts tribute acts this was a double bill of original artists.
Young Kent rockers Collateral are certainly putting in the hard yards to establish themselves. I saw them a month ago at the Borderline and already in between that time they have won through competitions to play at Ramblin’ Man and even accompany Jon Bon Jovi on his Mediterranean cruise. The New Jersey legend may even see something of his younger, long-haired self in charismatic singer Angelo Tristan.
‘Big Shot’ was not the most auspicious opener with the crowd, myself included, funnelling in and the band bathed in an unflattering green light. However they swiftly hit a purple patch with ‘Midnight Queen’, even starting a singalong and ‘Going With The Wind’- both from their debut EP- and a couple of as yet unrecorded songs in ‘Merry Go Round’ and ‘About This Boy’.
The Bon Jovi comparisons don’t stop there – the way Angelo’s acoustic guitar and slightly country-influenced voice gave these tunes added intimacy reminded me of the direction the New Jersey rockers took around the time of ‘These Days’ – along with a number of influences ranging from Nelson to Keith Urban.
Another from the EP, ‘Just Waiting For You’ was meant to be a ballad but halfway through their other secret weapon, guitarist Todd Winger took off on a lengthy solo, speedy but fluent and inspired by some of the greats of the eighties, taking the song into a whole new dimension. ‘Promise Land’ and current single ‘Lullaby’ bookended the song in more straight forward rocking fashion and the set fairly flew by.
It was not primarily a Collateral audience but judging from the unsolicited enthusiasm I heard from friends new to them, it was another successful staging post on the way to playing venues much larger than this.
Headlining the night were Bucket and Co, led by guitarist Dave ‘Bucket’ Colwell, and the respect in which he is held was shown by the presence of some celebrities including Kenney Jones and, on a break from watching Wimbledon down the road, Pat Cash who I managed not to recognise without his Cheap Trick-inspired headband.
In a long career Bucket seems to have played with everyone, but is perhaps best known for multiple stints with Bad Company and Humble Pie, while I also regularly notice him supporting the gig scene in London in convivial fashion- often alongside his bass player for the night Dave Boyce.
Indeed the band had quite a pedigree with Clive Edwards, another with a long CV including UFO, on drums and on vocals a new name to me in Jimmy Kunes who has sung with Cactus among others and who now, with Bucket, has been blessed with the rights to go on tour under the Humble Pie banner. The American has a strong but gravelly set of pipes, illustrated to best effect on opener ‘Whiskeyland’.
Particularly given that it was a pub show, the set was the perfect balance between original material and stuff from the bands Bucket is most associated with. So only three songs in we got a very respectable ‘Deal With The Preacher’ followed by the ‘Pie’s ‘Natural Born Woman’, a song which was a huge hit at the time, yet that is unfairly overlooked these days when it comes to seminal anthems from the early days of rock.
Bucket’s solo material including some from his recent album under the ‘Bucket’s Rebel Heart Banner’ nestled very comfortably alongside, being in a broadly similar blues rock vein with the title track ‘20 Good Summers’ extremely impressive.
Showing the breadth of his experience he even played an Iron Maiden B side ‘Reach Out’ that he wrote many years ago, to the all too visible delight of a couple of Maiden fanatics present, while the Free and Bad Company catalogue was well represented with ‘The Stealer’ and ‘Ready For Love’, both of them giving the band scope to jam somewhat.
Jimmy was also an endearing character, expressing his delight at spending Independence Day in London, and lending his tambourine to various women audience members to play. He shone on a couple of other Humble Pie numbers, ‘30 Days In The Hole’ and a blistering ‘C’mon Everybody’.
After a final solo song in ‘Hey Mr Nobody’ it was downhill all the way with ‘Running With The Pack’ then an inevitable pair of encores. A snatch of ‘Little Bit of Love’ gave way to ‘Can’t Get Enough’ and then, of course, to ‘All Right Now’ with a big sinaglaong among an increasingly refreshed crowd.
These are standards that have probably been covered countless times on the boards here, but at close quarters the tight and unshowy, but bluesy feel of Bucket’s Les Paul gave them an added veneer of class and was a reminder why he has been a man in demand over the years.
It completed a thoroughly enjoyable night in South-West London. Both bands come recommended and long may places like this continue to keep the old-fashioned virtues of the live gigging scene alive.
Review and photos by Andy Nathan
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