There’s nothing better than the feeling of the sticky floor of your favourite local live music venue on a rainy Sunday evening, but just like the time just under a year ago when I first encountered tonight’s headliners live, I regret to say that once again the Covid social media warriors who swore they’d be at every gig if a venue would be brave enough to open during lockdown. appear conspicuous by their absence, I bet they’re probably all at home too busy posting about the national alert signal they didn’t want to go off on their mobile just a few hours earlier.

Ho hum, still those of us who are in da house, and I see quite a few new faces amongst those parting with their £8 (yup you can still do gigs for under a tenner folks) at the door, are in for a right rollicking night of live music make no mistake, and I can think of no netter way than starting things off than 30 odd minutes in the company of Chepstow based punk rockers Bottlekids.

Having not seen the trio live in quite a while it’s interesting to see (and hear) they’ve not only added a feisty cover of 3 Colours Red’s ‘Mental Blocks’ to their set, but also (to my ears at least) moved ever so slightly away from the more pop/punk edge or their earlier sound into a harder more aggressive direction. There’s still plenty of hooks and “woah ohs” to enjoy, but the band themselves appear have really grown as songwriters via their 2022 ‘Zilch!’ EP pushing the needles well and truly into the red and live they really are one hell of crack unit. Bottlekids really have been beavering away on the live front recently, playing gigs right across the country, and with plenty more shows on the itinerary for the rest of 2023, make sure you get out and support them, because as we all know, it’s always nice to discover a great new band you’ve never seen before (or in this case, not in a good while).

Which is exactly how I discovered tonight’s headliners, Californian R&B surf stompers The Atom Age. Sauntering in off the street eleven months earlier half realising a band I’d heard via a YouTube video a friend had sent me were playing Le Pub and then immediately being blown away, tonight, is going to be my first proper encounter with the 12 legged rock ‘n’ roll monster, as this time around I come prepared with a knowledge of the band’s back catalogue, but will it prove to be just as impressive as that initial encounter?

Well, it takes just a few seconds of opener ‘Honeybees’ to answer that question. Shake, rattle and rolling the always impressive Le Pub sound system The Atom Age launch themselves into action like an MC5 shaped musical torpedo and they aren’t about to miss the target. We, the audience. It’s fascinating to watch six musicians so seemingly different (visually at least) gel into such a formidable live force. From the Wilko Johnson meets Howlin’ Pelle Almqvist antics of singer/guitarist Peter Niven, to the Pål Pot Pamparius of the farfisa Fred Brott, there is an explosive edge to the band that is only balanced out by the uber cool saxophone licks of Brendan Frye and (and I’m still chuckling at the one) the young Jack Jarvis charms of anchor-man MC guitarist/singer Ryan Perras. Add to this the substantial bottom end powerhouse drummer Fat Tim and bassist Kevin Mohn and you have a band able to level audiences and venues in equal measure.

Set list wise the band are (perhaps understandably) still out on the road promoting their Covid impacted 2019 album ‘Cry ‘Til You Die’ (available tonight for just £10 on vinyl and £5 on CD folks…are you listening The Bronx?) as though it is a new record, and there are some actual newer tunes like ‘Til We’re Shakin’, a track custom made for any upcoming Tarantino soundtrack, plus the frantic BRMC-like set closer ‘I Was A Rock ‘N’ Roll Narcissist’ that indicate the future does indeed sound great for The Atom Age.

Of the older Atom Age tunes aired tonight it’s still ‘I Hypnotize’ that flicks all the switches for yours truly, the tune sounding not unlike an unreleased cut from ‘RFTC’ era Rock From The Crypt, and who couldn’t love that?

Elsewhere the aforementioned ‘Cry ‘Til You Die’ album gets represented by its soulful and sassy opener ‘Love Is A Numbers Game’, the strutting ‘Walk Through Walls’ and perhaps that record’s best cut, the glorious beetle crusher stomp of ‘Never Looking’ with its divine “woo-oo” vocal breakdown, all delivered to absolute perfection.

And if its something from the Blag Dahlia co-produced ‘Hot Shame’ album (also available for just £10 on vinyl and £5 on CD folks) you are looking for, then there’s the Hives on steroids blitz that is ‘It’s A Mess’ plus the album’s equally excellent title track for you to shake your Sunday night tail feather to.

The only downer for me tonight was it was all over way too soon. The Atom Age really are a very special band indeed, flying just under the punk rock cool radar (which at the moment seems to be distracted by any band coming out of Australia) but just the same delivering total annihilation wherever they play.

Catch The Atom Age wherever you can… they are incredible!  

Author: Johnny Hayward

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