Archive for December, 2018

Bullets & Octane @ The Underworld

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15th February 2018

It has been a while since we were standing at The Worlds End. Whist the incredibly loud metal music streaming over the PA hasn’t changed, the decor certainly had. No longer a rustic old man boozer, it’s had somewhat of a hipster makeover which has given the main bar a lift. Similarly its subterranean darker sibling venue Underworld has also had a lick of paint. Premium beer added and years of accumulated sweat wiped clear away means its more welcoming for those without long hair and black jackets.

That aside, back to tonight’s lineup and having missed Hell’s Addiction, we rolled downstairs to catch Dead Man’s Whiskey. They kicked off our night of rock and roll rather brightly with a fairly good impersonation of a youthful Black Stone Cherry. Full of southern rock-isms despite their obvious britishness, they played their riffs hard and their melodies harder. Simple yet impactful song structures which showcases their knack for a catchy chorus. Their front-man with his low powerful boom was really impressive as he channeled his inner Chris Robertson (Black Stone Cherry). Promising set from a band on their way up.

Dead Man’s Whiskey

It’s been a while coming. Almost 10 years of relative inactivity and at least one cancelled London show have passed since the punk inspired hard rockers Bullets & Octane toured in the UK.

Bullets & Octane

This was not a fact overlooked by their wildly enigmatic frontman Gene Louis when he quipped, “You never know what your gonna get at a Bullets & Octane show. For starters you never know if we’re gonna turn up at all.” Many years of stagecraft were evident here as he continued in his intimate style, making jokes, drinking beer, taking/giving heckles and conversing one on one with the crowd all evening long.

Gene Louis

Unbeknownst to us, they actually had new new material to promote as their first worldwide LP “Waking Up Dead” dropped later in May. These songs rang out with familiarity with more of a hard riff and big chorus combo focus, than pedal to the floor punk infused velocity. It bodes well for the release if on first listen, your already singing and hopping along.

B&O’s back catalogue is a rather shallow in quantity, despite their enduring longevity (enabled by rotating cast members). It did however mean that every one of their best songs got some airplay tonight. The La-De-Dah’ing pop rock crossover “Pirates”, thrash-tastic “I Ain’t Your Saviour”, beer-swilling party tune “Song For The Underdog” and their hard rock classic “My Disease”.

It was all over too soon, but certainly they showed why they are such good value to come and watch. 100% commitment, leaving everything out there on stage every night living and breathing rock and roll hopes, struggles and dreams.

Extreme @ Brixton Academy

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20th December 2017

A post Christmas meetup of the DiR.net faithful congregated back in Brixton for a blast from the past, funk filled, 80’s rock show. We jumped at the chase to witness Extreme, the finest funk metal crossover band and their talismanic six string slinging legend Nuno Bettencourt.

But up first was a lesser known funk/rock band from the 80’s, Dan Reed Network. They played a rather generic form of pop rock that fits nicely into non-offensive electro tilted 80’s radio fodder or the soundtrack to an overly produced day-glo exercise video. Crude comparisons aside, their vocalist (the erstwhile Dan Reed) was seemingly out of kilter with the band, with his rockstar vision of his eponymous group was way above reality. Melodies as you’d expect of the style were strong and ever-present throughout each song, as were the big chorus build-ups. But when it was all played at such a plodding pace it was merely lacklustre, mediocre at best.

Dan Reed Network

Looking round the crowd this evening, the pleasant mix of middle ages metal heads, youthful pop bangers and old school rockers showed the broad appeal of this lesser known but fantastic band from the 80’s Metal scene who stood apart on merits (not just good looks and hair). Extreme!!!

Extreme

Immediately they showed their flair for melody within the opening bars of the show, as Nuno kick started a night of goddamn funky  guitar heroics. Now when the bassline for “Get The Funk Out” kicked in early doors, it was clear they were intending on focusing on their hits. 4 minutes of boogieing and wah-washed guitaring later the crowd were well and truly warmed, vocal chords and all. We continues in obscure, hit, obscure sequencing covering ballads “Hole Hearted”, unhinged rocker “Decandence Dance”, and even more phone waving ballads “Rest In Peace” and “Stop The World”.

Overall they were tight and had heaps of chemistry on stage, however their vocalist Gary Cherone lacked power (sometimes tunefulness) and potential to pierce the wall of sound coming from behind him. This took a little of the edge sheen of this polished performance, but for me the true star of the night was always going to be Nuno Bettencourt.

Nuno Bettencourt

His furiously fast, neo-classical, overtly tuneful and technically mesmerizing fretwork was an absolute honour to witness. He was given centre stage repeatedly on stunning solo’s and entire instrumental tracks that send shivers of excitement down spines. The best being “Midnight Express” a super fast acoustic strummer, the shred masterpiece “Flight Of The Wounded Bumble Bee” and of course Mozart’s “Rondo Alla Turca” sampling classic “Play With Me”.

In summary, a fantastic night of sing-a-longs, funk-a-delia and true guitar greatness.

Oh, and in case you were wondering. Yes they did play their other song too…what was its name again? Something about some Words (or am I thinking of Boyzone or the BeeGees?).

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