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Punk ClubCold In Berlin
Punk Club @ Hope & Anchor, London
Friday May 4 2012



They might be calling tonight's shindig Punk Club, but it's been a good few years since the Grope & Wanker was a scruffy old punk boozer with bands in the basement. The Stranglers, the Specials, even U2 - they all played here, while upstairs in the bar a cross-section of London's rock 'n' roll reprobates got extravagantly pissed. I should know. I was one of them.

These days, things are much more respectable. The bar has been meticulously decorated in trendy earth tones. It's become a popular watering hole for the upwardly mobile professionals who've discovered Islington's elegant terraces over the last couple of decades. Nobody calls it the Grope & Wanker any more. But there are still bands in the basement, so lets get down there and see if Punk Club can recapture some of the old mess and noise.

I remember Angelbomb - vaguely. Some years ago they used to pop up in support slots with various cyber-industrial type bands. They bummed around the circuit for a while before vanishing into the 'Where Are They Now?' file. Well, they're back, it seems, and doing their punky-electronix thing like the last decade didn't happen.

It's all good crashy-shouty stuff, although at the risk of being churlish I can see why Angelbomb didn't make it big (or, frankly, even medium sized) first time round. For all their attitude and noize, there's not much that is memorable about Angelbomb. Even in the crashy-shouty cyberpunk zone, it helps to have a tune or two you can whistle.

Or, at the very least, a punch-the-air chorus that sticks in your brain and gives you a hook on which to hang the memory of the gig, when you're on the bus home afterwards. Angelbomb kick up a good old industrial strength ruckus for the 30 minutes or so that they're on stage, but beyond that, it gets fuzzy. That's the thing about Angelbomb. You remember them - vaguely.


Now here's Cold In Berlin to provide a masterclass in how it should be done. Shoehorned onto the Hope & Anchor's compact and bijou stage, the band's habitual intensity is enhanced. It's as if Cold In Berlin expand to fill the entire room, with their bristling, unyeilding, here-we-come-ready-or-not demeanour going before them like an advance guard sent out to prepare the territory before the tanks roll in.

And then the tanks roll in. Cold In Berlin's wired, wound-up sound is a mighty thing in this minimalist basement. The drumbeats cannon of the bare-brick walls. The bass is a throbbing headache. The guitar is an angry cat, slashing out at you with its claws.

Cold In BerlinAnd, up front, in the audience, in your face, everywhere at once, vocalist My is a precision-controlled frenzy of flapping black clothes, gimlet-eyed stares, and that angst-soaked caterwaul of a vocal. In these cramped surroundings, it's as if audience and band are jumbled together in one glorious melee.

The set is stuffed with new songs - there's a new album on the way, and Cold In Berlin are pushing forward. 'And The Darkness Bangs' is a roaring melodrama. Counter-intuitively, 'And Yet' (Cold In Berlin like to start their song titles with 'And') is a slow 'n' low guitar-grind, almost bluesey in a way.

Still firmly rooted in post-punk, Cold In Berlin are now edging ever so slightly closer to The Rock, and it rather suits them. But it's when 'No White Horse' explodes off the starting line that the band really drop the bomb. This is Cold In Berlin doing what they do best: racking up the tension and then letting it all go in a sudden, exhilarating burst. Here in the Grope & Wanker's basement, we certainly achieved orgasm tonight.


Cold In Berlin: Website | MySpace | Facebook

Angelbomb: MySpace | Facebook




For more photos from this gig, find Cold In Berlin by name here.
Find a Cold In Berlin album review here. Find a Cold In Berlin interview here.
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