2020 promises to be a big year for Collateral, with their debut full-length album out in February to capitalise on the growing buzz around them. Indeed GRTR!’s writers voted the Kentish rockers the breakthrough act for 2020 in our end of year retrospective, so this was an appropriate way to start my gigging year, not least with a show in my own South-West London heartland.
The Beatles inspired name and memorabilia may suggest otherwise, but manager Noel Nevin has succeeded in making this bar in a suburban shopping parade one of live rock music’s little success stories in London. The Cavern is not much bigger than a front room but puts on shows nearly every night and has punched well above its weight with artists such as Praying Mantis and ex-Europe guitarist Kee Marcello gracing its cramped stage.
It has also been a favourite of Collateral dating back to their previous incarnation as the Angelo Tristan Band, so it was packed to the rafters with a combination of biker- style regulars and Collateral fans, or indeed both.
Their setlist had been shaken up somewhat and indeed they gambled on opening with probably their best known opening song, ‘Midnight Queen’, with vocals that always remind me of the Gin Blossoms mixed with Keith Urban. However ‘Won’t Stop Me Dreaming’ from the new album was altogether tougher with the feel of that generation of bands (Heavy Pettin, Tobruk etc) that tried to emulate Def Leppard’s success with ‘Pyromania’.
‘Going With The Wind’, just like the aforementioned ‘…Queen’ emphasised the unusual combination of Angelo Tristan’s acoustic guitar and Todd Winger’s nimble lead guitar work. While a gig buddy of mine did query whether a second electric guitar would thicken out their sound, to me it is a characteristic that differentiates them from many other hopefuls.
However the band members bring a diverse variety of influences to the table and the darker riffing of ‘Merry Go Round’ would not have disgraced Black Stone Cherry or even Metallica. Indeed, other than the country-flavoured ‘About This Boy’, the majority of their originals including ‘In It For Love’ and ‘Promiseland’ were harder hitting.
Whether he was under the weather, or the sound balance was not quite right, the only frustration was that Angelo’s vocals struggled to make themselves heard somewhat. However his force of his magnetic personality ensured that it barely hindered enjoyment of the performance.
With an hour and a half set to play with, they moved in a couple of different directions – one was covers, so an ‘Eruption’ like solo slot by Todd was followed, thankfully not by a modern day Dave Lee Roth impression, but ‘Sharp Dressed Man’. Personally I found it a bit pointless but the reaction of a crowd up for a Friday might party made mine a minority view.
The other change was an increasingly rare opportunity to hear songs from their ‘Four Shots EP’, including ‘Just Waiting For You’ which was probably my highlight of the set. It started as an acoustic driven ballad – indeed I was drawing comparisons with David Gray’s ‘Babylon’- but picked up pace before kicking into a higher gear altogether with a superb extended solo from Todd on his Jackson, one of the eighties shredders guitars of choice.
Covers of ‘Wanted Dead Or Alive’ and ‘Rocking In The Free World’ were excellent choices to showcase the acoustic/electric guitar combo, while as confirmed Bon Jovi fans who indeed performed on Jon Bon Jovi’s ‘Runaway To Paradise’ cruise, it was perhaps no surprise that ‘Mr BigShot’ was followed by another crowd-pleasing BJ cover in ‘You Give Love A Bad Name’, before they encored with another recent single in the Trade Description Act failing ‘Lullaby’.
Full credit to Collateral for putting in the hard yards and playing small gigs like this: indeed they are booked to play further shows at the Cavern – incidentally, easily accessible by regular late trains – in between tours with the likes of Jared James Nichols and HEAT. However I would wager that by the end of the year they will be headlining much bigger places.
Review and photos by Andy Nathan
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