5th July 2018
Review and Photography by Ryan Whitwell / Shotison
On arrival rockabilly and soul music greeted us as we arrived at The O2 Islington Academy who began taking in rock and rollers eager to see The Reverend Horton Heat do their thing tonight.
Vince Ray’s Loser Machine was the opening act for the evening with some classic sounding rockabilly tracks. The two-piece had a great vibe with jangling honky-tonk guitar tones, with the occasional wiggling of the hollow body Gretsch’s tremolo arm for even more wobble. Along with some infectious beats from the drummer with a nice deep tom the band made foot tapping in the photo pit all too easy.
Teenage werewolf is a great number, probably my favourite of the set, verging on a more bluesy style rock and roll that I’m a fan of.
They also played their latest single, Black Shadow. It’s an instrumental number and I liked it a lot. It’s got more of a psychobilly edge and felt a touch more intense than the rest of the set. Something to get the hips moving!
The set kept upping the ante with gradual increases in tempo and the quicker it got, the more the crowd seemed to get into it. A good cover of Who Do You Love before the final song, Ain’t Got No Skull.
During a little singalong to “I hear you Knocking” during the wait for the main event I realised how packed the room had gotten. Lots of 50’s style dresses and work shirts dotted around the venue.
Straight in with some bass slapping and Gretsch picking rock and roll from the Texas-based group.
Psychobilly Freakout saw some nice little interludes with the newer members on the keys and drums getting some solos, almost like an introduction as if to say “Yeah, this is what we do, and we know how to do it properly”.
Nice selection of that steady rock and roll with a couple of really smooth soulful tracks like Don’t Let Go of Me (that warm electric organ came really lifts that number). I’m not an avid follower of the band, so it was, nice to hear a range of tracks from their back catalogue.
Something a bit different for me as frontman spoke for a fair few minutes including a very nice shout out to support act Vince Ray, an icon of the genre, and also a dig at The Horton Heat’s drummer’s degree in Jazz drumming. There was a great intro for keys player, Matt Jordan, and a nice reminder of the importance of piano in the history of Rock and Roll.
“That’s all the people on stage I want to talk about” promoted cheers for Jimbo to get a mention, he seems pretty popular. So we were treated to an anecdote about an impromptu gig in Seattle featuring Jimbo slicing his finger on a broken string and flinging blood on the front row. Obviously, after all that, they had to play the Jimbo song, with the crowd joining in enthusiastically to shout J I M B O at every opportunity.
Then a bit of a Chick Berry with Jimbo and frontman swapping instruments. Turns out Jimbo is pretty handy with 6 strings as well as four.
‘Spend a Night in the Box’ was one of my favourites of the night, had a great jive rhythm with lots of juicy guitar solos and some big heavy drums at times.
I retreated to the back for the last few so u could nip out and beat the rush.
There was a bit more room too which meant more dancing and bopping to Galaxy 500 before a tribute to Lemmy Kilmister. Another short story, this time about the band working with Lemmy. In short, the band wanted to do Ace of Spades, because “that’s what fans will want”. Lemmy told them “don’t give them what they want, give them what they need”.
So Ace of Spades (Horton Heat style) waw how we ended the night. Great stuff. No surprises that there was a lot of cheering for an encore. But at 10.35 I am pretty sure there was a curfew.
I was wrong, as the band came back on for a few more. Which isn’t surprising with the amount of noise being made by fans. We were treated to a big ol’drum solo first before the rest of the band joined for It’s Martini Time. A great little number to give the dancing shoes a workout before heading home.
Baddest of the Bad
Big Little Baby
Hog Tyin’ Woman
Don’t Let Go of Me
Lonesome Train Whistle
Big Red Rocket of Love
Ride Before the Fall
Whole New Life
Bales of Cocaine
Spend a Night in the Box
Hate to See You Cry
Let me Teach You How to Eat
Ace of Spades (Motorhead Cover)
It’s Martini Time