The long and intriguing history of Leafhound is now entering a new chapter. Their sole 1971 album, released after the band had already split, has subsequently become a cult classic especially among the stoner rock community, with original vinyl copies going for £6000!
In more recent years, in the mid 2000s singer Peter French put together a new line up with some extremely able younger musicians, who I’ve been privileged to see many times. They released an excellent album ‘Unleashed’ but incredibly that was nearly 15 years ago. With band members gradually moving on, only a live album since and infrequent shows, I will confess that I was losing interest and wondering whether the band had run its natural course.
However when word reached me that they would be playing some new songs, my interest was freshly piqued by this gig at one of Pete’s haunts, the Eel Pie Club at the Cabbage Patch- ironically only weeks after I had seen him here fronting the resurrected Atomic Rooster.
They opened with ‘Sad Road To The Sea’ which flowered into a spectacular jam in which all three musicians identifiably showed their paces, but notably bassist Peter Herbert, whose stage movements were a talking point as he rocked back and forth and essayed some spectacular if rather risky leaps and high kicks.
‘105 Degrees’ saw the first chance to shine for new(ish) guitarist Tim Smith with its wah-wah solo and the first surprise of the night came in Pete playing a song from his Cactus days, ‘Bad Stuff’, which very much had the spirit of early seventies American hard rock.
My pre-gig fears that the Unelashed stuff would now be eased aside were unfounded with the dry and bluesy ‘Nickels and Dimes’, a tad slower than the recorded version, and the ‘Man With The Moon In Him’. Pete sounded rather like UFO’s Phil Mogg on the verse while the solo gave Tom a chance to burn up and down his racing green-coloured Les Paul in faster fashion.
I was always a big fan of his predecessor Luke Rayner’s fluid, languid style but Tom combined this soul with a harder edge to his playing. ‘Overtime’ was another given a new lease of life by the new band’s sharper edge, as was ‘Barricades’ in the second set.
However they went into the break with the moment we had been waiting for in the first public airing of a new song, ‘Burn The House Down’, a storming straight-ahead rocker with a big riff and strong hook on the chorus that could have come from the late seventies or early eighties works of UFO, Riot or Y and T. It made nothing less than a stunning impact.
They kicked off the second half of the set with the other two new numbers. ‘Hold Back The Night’ was in a similar style, though not quite as impressive while ‘Cinderella’ was a more adventurous proposition with its bluesy riff, Pete straining his voice to the limit and an interesting Eastern sounding guitar pattern over the chorus.
The Atomic Rooster songs they used to play have now naturally been dropped but until now ‘Growers of Mushroom’ had been unexpectedly marginal. That was rectified with the title track with Pete’s anecdote dispelling some of the myths about the meaning it has taken on – it featured some spectacular jamming between the trio of musicians either side of a drum solo from his son Dominic.
‘With A Minute To Go’ was a change of pace with a more laid back and almost psychedelic feel while still boasting a nice guitar solo, but then came the moment I had waited for, to see how Tom would put his spin on the massive riff that is ‘Freelance Fiend’ and he and indeed the band did not disappoint.
Similarly, on the encore, the ‘Crossroads’ influenced ‘Too Many Rock n Roll Times’, always a live favourite was given fresh life and heaviness. Peter himself seemed reinvigorated by the presence of fresh blood and showed himself to be one of the few of his contemporaries who is singing as well as ever. After this show, I’m eagerly awaiting the results in the studio of this third act of the Leafhound story.
Review and photos by Andy Nathan
The latest Josh Taerk live session was streamed on Sunday 26 September. This marked the start of a new monthly series. Josh’s next session is Sunday 31 October.
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 26 September 2021 and includes the Top 10 albums at www.getreadytorock.com for that week.
UK Blues Broadcaster of the Year (2020 and 2021 Finalist) 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 28 September 2021.
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Featured Albums w/c 18 October 2021 (Mon-Fri)
09:00-12:00 TAO Prophecy (Tarot Label Media)
12:00-13:00 LEVERAGE Above The Beyond (Frontiers)
14:00-16:00 JOE TILSTON Tightrope (Our Records)
Power Plays w/c 18 October 2021 (Mon-Fri)
ABOVE SNAKES Nothing To Lose (indie)
FRANKIE AND THE WITCH FINGERS Cookin’ (Greenway Records)
LEADFINGER The Fall Of Rome (Golden Robot)
FEMEGADES Stealing Numbers (Regent Street Records)
TIGERSIDE Any Contact (indie)
INDYA Love Like Champagne (indie)
EDGE OF DESTINY Forsaken (indie)
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