Live Music + Gig Reviews

The Amazing Snakeheads @ Electric Ballroom, London

23 October 2014

The Amazing Snakeheads It’s lucky The Amazing Snakeheads are good. Otherwise that name would be pretty awkward. But, they really are, so it really isn’t. Halfway through tonight lead singer Dale Barclay proclaims, in his broad Scottish twang, “We are the Amazing fucking Snakeheads from Glasgow” and there is absolutely no part of that sentence that’s worth disagreeing with.

Which is also good, as Barclay does not have the look of a man you should be disagreeing with. At one point a lone voice cries out “Give us some Bucky!” Barclay looks up from the bottle of Buckfast he’s swigging from and shoots back, “It’s not fucking Christmas son,” and that is the end of that conversation.

So on he strides, removing his coat to reveal a bare chest. He then drops onto his haunches and begins to play. After a fashion, anyway. It’s little more than single, clanging notes to begin, torn from the neck with a viciousness that makes your eyes water. Next to him, is newly restored bassist William Coombe, who plays the insouciant totem for Barclay’s unhinged spirit to bounce off. Those stabs of guitar and the wandering bassline become the set opening Flatlining, and the tone is set.

They are a visceral live act. Not entirely revolutionary; their take on the seedier end of blues and garage rock is not exactly new. But from the moment they start to the moment they end they are as menacing and uncompromising act as you could wish to see. It isn’t the parts, you see, it’s the assembly.

Plus, Barclay is a sight to behold. He roams about the stage, throwing his hands apart, grimacing, eyeing up the crowd with a gladiatorial look in his eyes. Are we not entertained? Are we not? We are. Where Is My Knife is gothic and heavy with atmosphere, delivered with a curled lip and a murderous look. Barclay’s declarations to “forget the rest now I’m your daddy” not really rich with paternal instinct.

Here It Comes Again is frenzied, some blood-crazed refugee from a rockabilly nightmare, little more than the title of the song and jangled riff delivered with increasing ferocity. Every Guy Wants To Be Her Baby is restrained, sultry and strangely jazzy, while new single Can’t Let You Go is a scorching beast that drips with malevolent romance.

There is often mention of bands restoring your faith. The Amazing Snakeheads are one of those bands. If you count restorative as being held up by the lapels and asked “you got faith again, mate?” in a tone of voice that suggests a negative response will result in a loss of feeling, consciousness and possibly teeth.

The Amazing Snakeheads. Clue is most certainly in the name.

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