“We are three brothers on a quest to save the world from false rock”. So reads the rather bold claim on Radkey’s Twitter page. Hell, it's not just 'false rock' that the world needs saving from these days so let’s hope they deliver eh?
First up Lyger, which is a half tiger and half lion isn’t it? I like the idea of cross breeding shit, I’ve always thought a giraffe kangaroo mash up would be fun (a girafferoo perhaps), although no doubt the Danes would swiftly hack it to death...if they could catch it of course. Anyway Lyger the band is a London three piece who - rather remarkably considering how tight they were tonight - played their first live show just three short months ago.
Their QOTSA / Foo Fighters-ish debut single Stroke is a pretty fine calling card for their sound, that of heads down fuzz rock with its eyes on arenadom. Elsewhere there’s a touch of Pumpkins’ style nihilistic grunge that should go down a storm with depressed teens...and middle aged men everywhere. That’ll be me then. Promising.
Next up Turbogeist. Okay let’s get this out of the way first...even if addressing the subject might annoy the bejesus out of them...their lead singer Jimmy is none other than Mick Jagger’s son. Aside from a vague physical similarity that’s pretty much where the link ends. Turbogeist have been variously labelled as ‘thrash rock’, ‘punk rock’ and ‘grunge garage’, quite what Jagger Snr makes of it all hasn’t yet been reported. It was great to see Jagger Jnr up front dancing like a demon during Lyger’s set though and full marks for the Scando/Germanic accent he put on during the introduction to his own band’s opening number. Clearly this ain’t a vanity project and Jagger’s not even the star of the show...actually that accolade probably goes to the drummer who during the course of the set managed to almost poke out one of his own eyes, totally destroy a set of drum sticks and then eat the remaining shards of wood. Now that’s rock ‘n’ roll. Bloody good he was too. Truly great rock drummers are all too rare, this dude’s priceless. Jagger shares vocal duties with a bloke who bears a passing resemblance to Keef back in the day. Purely coincidental I’m sure. Ahem. Of course they sound as much like The Stones as One Direction sounds like Iggy and the Stooges. Musically there’s a touch of Sham 69, Angelic Upstarts and Cockney Rejects in there, albeit with a little bit more of a glam edge best heard on recent single Alien Girl. “Thanks for coming out on a Monday night, I know ‘ow ‘ard it is” acknowledged Jagger. Somehow knowing his old man’s notorious caution with cash you sort of believe him.
Set highlight and single Mermaid’s Revenge is perhaps their most inventive moment to date, managing as it does to mash together sea shanty, screamcore, emo and heavy rock. A neat trick if you can pull it off...and they do. A suitably raucous cover of The Wipers’ Up Front no doubt bought a tear or two to some of the older crowd. Okay, so his old man may roll but JJ and co rock.
When the Radke brothers (hence the band’s name Radkey I guess) were born in the mid to late 90s (yep, the youngest member’s only 16 or so...good grief I have boxer shorts older than that) the various groups that clearly influence them (MC5, Stooges, Motorhead) were already well into their third or fourth decade of fame. Of course to the band all this shit still sounds new and fresh, bless ‘em, hence one of the most joyful and energetic performances I’ve seen for some time. Kicking off (and that’s a pretty apt description) with Out Here In My Head...a ferocious 100mph blast of primal punk...the band starts the show the way most groups would finish, giving it everything they’ve got. Like a man possessed Isaiah spends most of the show wrestling with his instrument (steady ladies), a twisting, jerking blur of bass whilst brother Dee alternates between a surprisingly deep vocal and some truly larynx shredding screams. Dee can play a mean guitar too. Perhaps contrary to the punk ethos there are some complex riffs in there and if the odd homage to Hendrix creeps in to some of his stage moves it’s not entirely unjustified. This kid is how old? 17? 18? Hmmmm...imagine what he’ll be like in his mid 20s. At the back drummer Solomon somehow keeps pace with the mayhem seemingly without breaking into a sweat. Oh what it is to be young.
In common with many gigs it took a tune or two to coax some of the crowd right to the front but the band’s got an answer to that via their track Come A Little Closer with its ‘Na na na na na” vocal hook drawing in the stragglers. It doesn’t take a huge leap of imagination to see this stuff going down a storm during the festivals. “This track’s called Pretty Things” explained Isaiah “Got flashed in Kansas before playing this song...first pair of boobies I eva saw”. Who says rock ‘n’ roll doesn’t pay anymore eh?
The goth punk of Feed My Brain gave way to one of the band’s crowning glories to date, Start Freaking Out, three minutes of frantic full on mayhem designed purely to get you to bang your head clean off its shoulders. One bloke did just that. It’s probably still lying there under the stage right now.
It came a close second to Romance Dawn though, a deceptively simple but actually bloody smart punk blues number that’s insanely addictive. Face to face and almost on their knees Dee and Isaiah trade licks as the crowd at the front go suitably mental. With no stage door to exit from the band hides behind speaker stacks and drums as calls for an encore build. This they duly repay with an explosive cover of another of their inspirations Misfits’ Last Caress. A-ma-zing.
Radkey is already a great band and this was a truly groin moisteningly great show. Sure they wear their influences on their sleeves but most importantly they wear them well. What’s even more exciting though is what these dudes will go on to do and sound like in the coming years. The world’s been waiting for another really great rock band for some time now. Could Radkey actually be it...?