With The Peacocks and The Brains
16 August 2013
Review by Jane Playdon
The Underworld in Camden is all set for a night of “psychobilly carnage” (says the poster outside) as the quiffs and killer heels come sweeping in to see The Brains, The Peacocks and The Creepshow. Judging by the general chatter, everyone is here to see The Creepshow’s “new” singer Kenda, who joined last year in July!
But that comes later, because first up is The Creepshow’s fellow Canadian label mates and gig buddies The Brains. Performing their last UK show of a tour in support of their new album The Monster Within, it is immediately obvious that the 3-piece psychobilly/Horror punk band are all technically brilliant.
Rene de la Muerte (vocalist/guitarist) has a strong melodic voice tinged with grit and plays with a slick precision and speed to rival many a thrash metal band; and Colin Irvine (double bass/backup vocals) and Pat Kadaver (drums/backup vocals) provide a tight rhythm section. Kadaver especially stands out as the all-singing drumming stick-twirling whizz, but this doesn’t always work in his favour because it means that everyone spots him drop the stick during the track ‘Devil in Disguise’!
The track in question is an upbeat, bass-slapping, harmonizing, grab a partner and whirl around the floor singalong, complete with monsters and madness – a description that could in fact apply to most of their set.
Unfortunately the set is plagued by sound problems, with several jarring bursts of feedback and shouted instructions to the sound guy. But they make the best of it, ending with stand-out number ‘You’re Dead’ from their 2009 self-titled album, with more killer guitar work from de la Muerte and some theatrically passionate dancing with the double bass by Irvine, who concludes the set with a flourish by balancing on top of his stringed dancing partner.
Next up is The Peacocks, a 3-piece from Switzerland who brings with them a sepia atmosphere of smokey clubs from the 50s.
Sharply dressed with immaculately coiffed hair, they exude a type of unpretentious cool as they deliver their rockabilly/punk sound with the panache of veteran performers (well, they have been going for over 20 years!).
‘Gimme More’ is a catchy upbeat number that gets the heads shaking and the fingers snapping, followed by ‘Somebody’s Gonna Get Their Head Kicked in Tonight’. Originally sung by Fleetwood Mac and then covered by The Rezillos, The Peacock’s version combines the energy of punk with a cool sinister tone, expressively delivered by vocalist/guitarist Hasu Langhart’s low-key effortless singing style.
His vocals are clear yet tinged with a gruffness that is perfect for the rockabilly standout track ‘I Don’t Care’ from their 2007 album Touch And Go.
His brother Simon Langhart is especially charismatic to watch as he rocks sharply around the stage with his double bass/partner, and even more so for the last track of the set, ‘Letter to the Censors’ from 1999’s In Without Knocking, a distinctly Motörhead-influenced number that sees him pull out some classic rock moves, including the windmill!
A circle pit is promptly formed as the band determinedly casts aside the incessant sound problems and play harder and with more energy than they’ve shown up until now, throwing in a few “Ois” and some “doowaps” in a humorous nod to their influences. This is a great tune to finish with, charging the atmosphere in readiness for the headliners and leaving a smile on my face.
Headline psychobilly act The Creepshow are in the fifth week of an European tour that will culminate in the Reading and Leeds festivals on 23th and 24th August, and are out “to show off their new and improved line up” and show folks that not too much has changed; according to their label; People Like You Records…and also, of course, to drum up interest in the new album, Life After Death, due for release next month.
New additions since last year are Matt “Pomade” on drums, Daniel Flamm on guitar and vocalist Kenda Legaspi; who is the third vocalist to front the band since they started in 2005 and has only done one London show since then.
The first two singers, Jen and Sarah Blackwood, are both sisters who sound very similar, so the band’s first three albums have a vocal consistency that Legaspi will need to work with and adapt as her own…no pressure there then.
With a twirl of the double bass by Sean “Sickboy” McNab, they’re off, starting with ‘Creatures of the Night’ from their 2006 album Sell Your Soul. Legaspi’s voice is strong and confident, and has the same smokey character as the previous two singers.
She puts her own imprint on the sound by placing subtly different emphases on the words, while still keeping close enough to her predecessors to keep the fans happy, and the audience obviously loves her.
Singing along, as the tiny supermodel-looking vocalist belts out ‘Keep Dreaming’ from 2010’s They All Fall Down, encouraging a pit to form and then moving into the audience to dance. She is making quite an impact, but then so are the other band members.
They all have fantastic stage presence, from the Reverend McGinty’s howling werewolf-type “oo-wa-oo” facial expressions as he pounds the keyboard, to über-cool Daniel Flamm’s killer guitar skills as he casually flirts with Legaspi, to drummer Sandro Sanchioni’s intricate solo during ‘Grave Diggers’ that gets one of the biggest cheers of the night. McNab demands and gets a pit, while McGinty demands that we all “get lucky!” Not sure how successful that one was.
They play two tracks from the new album: ‘Sinners and Saints’ that fans will be familiar with because it’s been released as a single, and ‘Devil’s Son’ which sounds darker than the more poppy single. But you can never tell with this band, as they marry dark lyrics with upbeat tunes and vice versa.
Playing tracks like ‘Cherry Hill’; a poppy number from their first album with the cheerful chorus “Oh what a night/I’m running out of time/trapped inside a nightmare/will I make it out alive?” While Legaspi’s singing this she’s climbing along the outside of the balcony that runs along the side of the stage and there’s only a couple of songs to go – doubly appropriate and very funny.
They conclude the set with ‘Rue Morgue Radio’, a charming ditty about an epidemic transmitted across the airwaves. Legaspi, not to be outdone by The Brains, also climbs up on the bass for a show-stopping finale.
Her tiny frame fits on it neatly…think she won that round.
‘Creatures of the Night’
‘Run for Your Life’
‘Zombies Ate Her Brain’
‘Get What’s Coming’
‘Sell Your Soul’
‘The Devil’s Son’
‘Buried Alive’ –
‘Dusk Til Dawn’
‘Sinners and Saints’
‘Psycho Ball & Chain’
‘Rue Morgue Radio’