Album launch show for Rich Ragany & The Digressions you say?Camden Town you say? The Spangles, The Speedways and More Kicks on the same bill for less than a tenner? Fuck me sideways I’ll have some of that.
It might be dryruary or whatever you want to call it, people might be feeling the post-Christmas pinch and the weather might be a bit baltic outside but worry not this is the Black Heart and as we all know it’s like a Rock ‘n’ Roll sauna upstairs and tonight it didn’t disappoint again.
First up tonight, The Spangles. kicking off tonight’s proceedings with their first soiree into London Town and I think it’s fair to say that I can speak on behalf of those here present they certainly didn’t leave anything behind as they knocked out tune after tune from their rather spiffin’ debut album ‘Sweet FA’. With some quality cheeky banter and beaming smiles, the top tunes kept coming. It was the perfect way to get this show underway. In thirty sweaty minutes, they showed that Rock ‘n’ Roll is in good hands and songs like ‘The Only One’, ‘Dirty Pictures’ and ‘Hold My Hand’ ensured that we’re in safe hands and on this evidence this might be the first visit to the Capital but it won’t be the last time these three talented guys hit London and I’m sure on the evidence of their performance and the quality of the music The Spangles are a tasty proposition and they will undoubtedly go from strength to strength.
Next up were those power poppin’ rock ‘n’ rollers The Speedways. Off the back of their debut album, they’ve been getting some decent column inches for a stunning piece of crafted power pop that is ‘Just Another Regular Summer’. This was my first time seeing the band live and with a rougher edge to the songs and some played faster it seemed to add to what are already really good songs. I think it worked really well having Mauro Venegas on lead guitar to buffer off Matt and his style of playing and it added to the sound of the songs. The band looked and sounded superb again much like The Spangles you would be forgiven for thinking they’d been a band for years. ‘Seen Better Days’ reminded me of Stiv around the ‘Disconnected’ era and live without the keyboards and that rougher edge they really hit the spot. If you wanted to hear the definition of powerful pop songs then this was it. ‘In Common with You’ was better than the recorded version sped up and sounded really good. Playing the album pretty much in sequence up until they threw in a faultless rendition of ‘They Don’t Know’ yeah that’s right the Kirsty MacColl number Tonight The Speedways took ownership and totally nailed it. The second band down and another band with a rosy future and capable of great things. I only hope they make more music together as they have a rosy future on the strength of a performance like that. Excellent!
We reach the halfway point of tonight’s proceedings and up next is the three-piece pop melodies of More Kicks. They might not have made it to an album launch of their own yet but their debut three-track single was excellent and if that’s the shape of things to come then let’s get it on. There are no airs and graces on display tonight, no egos jostling for the top spot just good time, honest Rock ‘n’ Roll played by people who clearly love what they’re doing and who walk the walk as well as talk the talk. More Kicks have got it all to prove and right from the off seem intent on letting the punters see what they have in their locker and again like the previous two bands they didn’t disappoint.
After seeing their last performance that was with The Briefs up at the Lexington I thought they took this one up a notch and they seemed to wring out a little more energy which was a fantastic achievement for a band brimming with the stuff. Again, More Kicks blast out hook after hook and melody after catchy lyric with the likes of songs as strong as opener ‘Young Enough’ it seemed like no biggie to just plug in and play confident that the tunes will stand up on their own and like Ali walking to the centre of the ring and doing the Ali shuffle followed by a knock out blow More Kicks must know these songs are so strong? They’ve not just got the one outstanding tune but a whole bloody set of them. Songs like ‘What A Mess’ are just wonderful live so full of energy and life if you could bottle this you’d be loaded.
Sulli is a great frontman, so enthusiastic and full of good energy with songs like ‘Shes A Reaction’ they can slow things down (a little) so it’s not all crash bang wallop! but beauty in such strong melodies, as well as a little dash of chaos, makes for the perfect power pop. Exploding Hearts, Stiv doing his power pop or The Boys these are all lined into the DNA of More Kicks as much as the charm and style of The Fab Four or the Kinks. oh and they’ve got the tunes as well trust me. By the time they play ‘Blame It On The Satellite’ – they’ve got it all going on and tonight they might just have stolen the show so far. A magnificent performance and if you can catch them I urge you to do so because you’re in for a right treat. Oh, and after the next single release can we have that album please guys?
Right, How the fuck do you follow that? Well, I guess one way is to pump classic Rod the mod over the PA as your intro tape then head straight into the title track of that brand new album. That’s one way of keeping this train on track as this six-piece set off as they meant to go on – there was no time for mucking about there was music to play and the audience seemed intent on having the best of times as the Digressions seemed duly obliged to deliver. ‘That World’ was dispatched and the band seemed to settle back and just clicked from Gaff’s empathetic lead guitar breaks to Kit Swings searing vocals. Andy (Brook) knew when to fill in and when to ease back on the keyboards it was a delight to hear such an accomplished set delivered by such a talented band. The rhythm section of Simon and Ricky locked everything down which left the room for Rags to lead everyone down his ‘Story Highway’ as songs like ‘Lose With Me’ took on a life of their own and sounded huge.
‘Scotty Thompson’ had swagger and it must have been great for the band to hear people singing back on tracks like ‘Later Than It Is’ considering it has only been available to pledgers thus far but it seems people have really taken to this side of Rags music and it might be less of a good time party band that Role Models is but that doesn’t mean its not about a good time because this is the best of times folks, make no mistake. Hearing the fourth band tonight with a new record in hand and just available it was a real pleasure. Considering the quality on offer I think it’s staggering it’s in the Black Heart and not somewhere five times the size such has been the standard on show. (maybe next time)
There was just about time for a Digressions take on Tom Petty’s ‘Listen To Her Heart’ before a really great version of ‘Easy’ before they ended the set with a spectacular ‘Your Distance’. That was too quick the set just flew by but before the curtain was drawn on a brilliant nights entertainment ol’ Rags was on stage alone lapping up the applause from the audience as he led them through an impromptu ‘Born To Lose’. Johnny would have been proud of that one that’s for sure!
We came we saw we conquered – Four bands just kicked Camden’s backside make no mistake about that. Four bands that deserve fantastic futures and every column inch of praise for writing and performing music that matters and doing it to such high standards – Goodnight Black Heart it’s been emotional. But oh so good can we do it again sometime?
Rich Ragany & The Digressions is available Here
More Kicks available Here
The Speedways available Here
The Spangles available Here
Author: Dom Daley