Camden, The Underworld
15th August 2013
A diverse bill makes a pleasant change in an era when promoters often seem frightened to take a chance to mix things up a bit – so a bill featuring Street Dogs, Filaments, Harrington Saints and Louise Distras sounds like a rare treat. Hannah McFaull went along to The Underworld for Louder Than War and loved them all.
Any gig the week after Rebellion is tough to drag yourself to, especially when all you want to do is lay in bed, eating things with a vitamin not alcohol content. But this line up at the Underworld saw a packed house to shake off those post festival blues and say goodbye to the Street Dogs and Harrington Saints as they come to the ends of the UK legs of their tours. More importantly, it was my last night in London before heading back to San Francisco, and what venue could be more fitting than one that I drank and pogoed in long before I was legally entitled to? We pulled the boots back on and headed to the Underworld.
This line up made me feel like a kid again for another reason. Four seemingly different crowds of fans came together, with a cross over big enough to make it work. I don’t remember the last time I saw a punk-folk songwriter from up North, an American Oi!/streetpunk band, a local establishment with a trombone and an internationally acclaimed punk and roll powerhouse all on one bill. It feels like there’s been too much of trying to appeal to one scene by promoters, and not enough mixing it up. This combination was perfect.
First on the stage was Louise Distras, who I interviewed for Louder Than War last year. Since then Louise has been finishing her debut album “Dreams from the Factory Floor”, which will be out in September 2013. She’s also been non stop touring, playing with Billy Bragg and TV Smith amongst many others and acclaimed sets at Glastonbury and Rebellion. And you can see why she’s been getting so much attention. For one woman and a guitar she makes an enormous sound.
Her songs themselves deal with big picture issues including workers’ rights, equality and violence, but do so with compassion and intellect. Stand out tracks were ‘Black and Blue’ and ‘The Hand You Hold’. Protest punk music is alive and kicking in this one-person whirlwind from Wakefield. I look forward to getting the album.
Next up were the Harrington Saints, from Alameda, California, who were on a self professed pub tour of the UK. This was their penultimate date before returning home and the boys were well up for it. Zipping across the stage, singer Darrel dropping to his knees and using the mic as a megaphone, the Saints’ live show is one to experience rather than describe. The songs are anthemic tunes with maximum opportunity for audience participation (at last an American band not scared of the word Oi!).
Spotting Mark from Booze and Glory in the crowd, Darrel pulled him up on stage to share the vocals for West Ham inspired ‘Claret and Blue’, an audience favorite in London which hasn’t fared as well in other regions of the country. ‘Bootstraps’ was dedicated to all the women in the crowd, which went down well in an audience with a surprisingly high number of my gender. If you missed the Harrington Saints on this UK tour, you’ll just have to do what the audience did at the Underworld and demand they return to the stage soon. Read my interview with them here.
Essex legends The Filaments were welcomed to the stage to keep the crowd dancing, which they did admirably, showcasing songs from their back catalogue and new album ‘Land of Lions’. I don’t think I’ve never not had fun at a Filaments gig. It’s basically impossible to watch a band having that much fun up there and not want to join in. Singer Jon Fawkes kept the banter going between songs just long enough for people to catch their breath before diving straight back into another song. Buy the new album if you haven’t already. You won’t regret it (just bug them into getting it on vinyl!).
There are very few bands who own a stage quite like the Street Dogs. With complete control, this well-oiled and much loved punk rock machine never fails to bring their A game when it comes to their live shows. Tonight was no exception. This was the first time many in the crowd had seen the latest line up, which now includes the Have Nots Matt Pruitt on lead guitar, plus Darkbuster frontman and Boston scene stalwart Lenny Lashley on rhythm guitar. Quick aside, if you haven’t listened to Lenny Lashley’s Gang of One EP or latest full length ‘Illuminator’, then I highly encourage you to do so.
Feeding from the energy bouncing off the crowd, who were themselves bouncing off each other and the walls, singer Mike McColgan whipped the audience into a hurricane of arms and legs, and at one point threw himself off the stage, never relinquishing his grip on the mic despite almost hitting the deck. ‘Not Without A Purpose…’ is always a highlight of their set for me and this crowd seemed to know every word. New singles released this year ‘Crooked Drunken Sons’ and ‘Rustbelt Nation’ also went down a treat and as they hadn’t been in the Rebellion set I saw, it was great to see them live. I spoke to the band about these songs for Louder Than War earlier this year.
At the end of the set, the Street Dogs drew from both their early recordings, belting out ‘Do Or Die’, and those of Darkbuster, with Mike sharing vocal duties with Lenny for ‘Skinhead’, prompting another huge singalong. As far as I’m concerned this is a solid line-up for the Street Dogs and I’m looking forward to seeing them again soon. All in all a great night, but my shout out goes to the promoter who took a chance on a seemingly mixed bill and had himself a blinding night by all accounts, including mine.
Louise Distras can be found at her website and on Facebook.
Harrington Saints are here and on Facebook.
The Filaments website is here and their Facebook page here.
Street Dogs can be found at their website and on Facebook.