Camden Electric Ballroom – Feb 18th 2013
Words and Photos: Steve Fletcher
As London venues go, the Electric Ballroom in Camden is something of a phenomenon, and veritable tardis. A tiny terraced frontage opens out into a large bar area and stage surrounded by various access points to upper terraces and further bar areas and dance floors. The vibe outside is of great anticipation as a long line of fans have already assembled down the high street ready for doors open. We grab the first of many beers on the night and park stage right for opening act Logan (6). Instantly a hard rock riff kicks in alongside a widdling solo and on strides the lead singer to begin what turns out to be a not too shabby handful of chunky rock work outs that are so damn cliched its hard to believe this five piece are from Scotland. Still, the riffs are thunderous, the drummer looks about 12 but damn does he smack those tubs! The songs aren’t bad and come set closer ‘When I Get Down’ we’re left reflecting on a grossly enjoyable opening 30 minutes. Highly praised new British Rock act Heavens Basement (8) already have a reputation for highly energitc shows and tonight appears to be no exception. Opening up with ‘Welcome Home’, the first track from stonking debut Filthy Empire, lead vocalist Aaron Buchanan lets everyone know what they’re in for by belting out a layrinx shredding scream; all fists in the air, foot up on the amps and swinging hair, it’s a great start. Man that boy’s got lungs!! First single ‘Fire, Fire’ is swiftly followed by ‘I Am Electric’, both riding fiersome riffs and shredding solos; Buchanan’s on stage antics reminiscent of a young Sebastian Bach in all his glory. It sides on acceptably preposterous and is actually hilarious in a modern context. The riffs keep coming thick and fast with some fluid fretwork and a tightness as a grou that belies their years. They have been together for nearly 5 years but touring a debut, you expect a bit of inexperience to creep in to the performance. Not for these boys and as they close out with Buchanan helping out on cymbal duty we’re left drowning in the fact that these boys have a hell of a lot to offer; headline shows await.
Its another 45 minuted before ex Creed and Alter Bridge six stringer Mark Tremonti (8) takes to the stage, but wastes no time at all in roaring into album opener ‘Leave It Alone’ . The acoustics in the Ballroom are great but again, does it need to be loud to the point of sheer distortion across the instrumentation? Vocally it’s occassionally lost but there’s no doubting Tremonti’s talent and craft as a guitarist. Grinding riffs and powerhouse double kicks shake the foundations before the album title track has the crowd singing along in rapturous adulation, not for the first time. ‘So You’re Afraid’ plays perfectly to Tremonti’s innate strengths as a showman and rockstar, (voted the fourth greatest heavy metal guitarist by Total Magazine) as he launches into fan favourite ‘The Things I’ve Seen’. We’re half way through before band introductions and none other than Wolfgang Van Halen on bass who replaced Brian Marshall last year. Some more than healthy B-sides are sandwiched by the huge ‘Wish You Well’ and ‘Brains'; where in the former he requests an all encompassing circle pit. He doesn’t get one but it so deserved it; wonderfully malevolent. The so called ‘ballads’ unfurl into equally abrasive rock cuts and the encore is killer; complete with some sinister picks and a good ol’ thrash from hell. An almost complete performance then and one which will be remembered by the bands dedication to joining everyone at the merch stand to sign any purchases made. Some say he’s a model rockstar and on the evidence of tonight, this is how one should conduct oneself. Watch and learn kids.