Back at the start of 2020, I began what I hoped would be a big gigging year with Collateral at a packed Cavern. It was also promising to be a breakthrough year for the Kent rockers whose first full-length album was about to be released and backed with extensive touring. Well, we know how all that turned out!
Owner Noel Nevin has valiantly kept gigs on, when allowed, where others closed their doors. So after seeing enjoyable unplugged and seated shows from Jim Kirkpatrick and Spike, it was fitting that my first full-on show here since restrictions lifted should be to see Collateral again.
There were some differences though, the crowd a little smaller and more comfortable, and the band expanded from four to six members. I did wonder how they would all fit on the cramped stage and the answer was they didn’t, as keyboard player Rob Fenning was positioned a few feet off stage in a spot usually occupied by punters or the merchandise stall.
As Noel introduced the band, there was anticipation in the air as singer Angelo Tristan made his way down the steps from behind the stage, in particular from those of us who saw his pink snakeskin jacket at the Nozfest festival the previous weekend. On this occasion though he was sporting a conservative, by his standards, black leather jacket, as the band tore into the opening numbers from their album, ‘Mr Big Shot’ and ‘Promiseland’.
Both were storming hard hitting rockers, but actually of the type that only forms a minority of their repertoire, whereas ‘Going with The Wind’ showed a more melodic sensibility with Angelo’s acoustic guitar combining well with Todd Winger’s electric solos.
‘Won’t Stop Me Dreaming’ was for me a relatively weak link as Angelo’s voice appeared bit thin over a busy almost power pop like backing. However ‘Can’t Hold Me Down’, written during the pandemic, was very impressive and the first where Rob’s keyboards were at all prominent.
‘Angels Crying’ had a brilliant melodic hook and was followed by ‘Just Waiting for You’, another interesting combination as the type of semi-ballad that were staples of early 2000’s American rock radio in the hands of bands like The Calling and Hoobastank, only for Todd to cut loose with a superb extended solo, harking back to an older tradition.
It was significant that Angelo admitted that this was a show for them to relax and have fun compared to the tightly organised appearances at festivals and the like, which showed in plenty of larking about, notably when he was distracted while singing ‘About This Boy’. Referring to this as a home town gig did rather stretch geography though!
Whereas that January 2020 set was padded out with covers, this one, which included their complete recorded works to date, had room for just one- ‘Livin’ On A Prayer’. It was fitting given their unquestioned Bon Jovi influences, and though I would have preferred something less overplayed it did the job in getting various crowd members up and dancing.
Indeed ‘In It For Love’ also calls to mind the New Jersey legends but, preceded by a solo slot from Todd, it was surprisingly rocky, and their signature song ‘Midnight Queen’ had people singing along. Like most of their lighter material it was a glorious mix of Lost Highway-era Jovi, Tyketto, Mitch Malloy and Keith Urban, which in a more favourable climate would be made for radio stations or arenas.
The same is true of ‘Get Back To You’, a mid-tempo semi ballad with some quite magnificent melodies which is rarely in the live set and which I’d almost forgotten. But the varied nature of Collateral’s material is a quality too easily overlooked, demonstrated by the fact that the two were sandwiched by the hard driving, gritty ‘Merry Go Round’.
There was a single ‘encore’ (as the band never actually left the stage) with a more rough and ragged and fun ‘Lullaby’, Todd walking through the crowd and plenty of participation as the song was extended.
At this stage of their career, Collateral don’t have to play venues this small, but the fact they chose to perform this gig reflects credit on both parties, and the reward was an excellent and unvarnished show from a band deservedly going places.
Review and photos by Andy Nathan
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