It seems to me that these days I'm either down in Hoxton...or up the Holloway Road. Tonight it's the turn of Holloway Road to feel the tread of my impeccably pointy boots. Here we are at the rock 'n' roll watering hole known as The Gaff, which tonight hosts a selection of rock noisemakers of varying stripes.
The first of these noisemakers is currently prowling the venue in a state of undress, while mad beatz and loud guitar batter the background. This, it turns out, is Global Noise Attack, a name that suggests - if the band's rattling industrio-rampage hadn't already dropped a clue - that we're not exactly in the easy listening zone. Minimilism rules around here, it seems. The band comprises two blokes and a backing track: one thrashes at a Flying V guitar, everything resolutely turned up to eleven, while the other prowls the audience wearing leather chaps and a manic grin - and very little else. Hmmm, tasteful.
we nail down the music? Well, try this: no-frills nineties industrial.
Global Noise Attack's musical roots seem to be in that post-'Jesus Built
My Hot Rod' era - say, from 1992 onwards - where the mash-up of technology
and loud guitars suddenly became The Thing. In Global Noise Attack's world,
that mash-up is obviously still The Thing, and what the hell - it's a
effective racket, even if it does sound very much of its time now.
We shall wrench the musical pointer of tonights gig in a very different direction now. On their MySpace page, the Memphis Mafia Band portray themselves as a collection of good ol' boys playing - in their words - 'Kentucky fried southern boogie'. But, curiously, there's nothing particularly southern, or fried, or even boogie-ish about the band's set tonight. I was expecting North London's answer to Little Feat, but I get a perfectly competent - and frankly rather characterless - collection of pub-rockers, playing that could-be-anyone brand of any-old-rock that you can hear in the back rooms of British boozers any night of the week, up and down the land.
The bassist essays a few fancy runs, fingers dancing all over his fretboard - I suspect, in band discussions, he's the one who advocates pushing things in a prog direction - while his colleagues chug away like a reliable old diesel engine. The band seem to be having a whole bunch of fun on stage, but the applause at the end of the set is muted to the point of non-existence. Kentucky fried boogie? More like a bargain bucket.
It's rather a relief when Devilish Presley get on the stage, unfurl their flag, and plug in their hardware, because now the needle on the rock-o-meter will surely rise into the red zone. Devilish Presley are a counter-intuitive thing: a full-on rock 'n' roll band with a beat box where the drumnmer would normally be. Traditionalists would perhaps assert that you can't rock out to a drum program, but I'm sure Devilish Presley would give those traditionalists a long, hard, stare and assert just as vehemently that you bloody well can.
The genius of the band is that it's all kept simple. The rhythm is a stripped-down backbeat, the bass a low-end kickabout, the guitar a glam-rock rampage over the top. Guitarist Johnny Navarro's vocals are a rock 'n' roll hog-call, Bassist Jacqui Vixen gives it the authentic punk rock shriek. And that's all you need, really, innit?
The first rule of rock 'n' roll should be: strip away the excess baggage. Devilish Presley have done just that, and the result is as effective as a clip round the ear. The audience becomes animated for the first time tonight, as the band give us an unceremonious stomp through the Devilish Presley songbook. 'Trucks' bashes about like a sudden outbreak of moshing in the local transport cafe, 'Black Leather Jesus' is practically a whole new religious cult in 4/4 time. That old rock 'n' roll monster still knows how to throw a party, and Devilish Presley give us a good 'un on the Holloway Road tonight.
For more photos from this gig, find Devilish Presley by name here.