Live Music + Gig Reviews

The Burn @ Cargo, London

28 May 2002

Cargo’s railway arches and minimalist chic are the setting for the third night of The Burn’s UK tour. These five Blackburn lads are an enigma whose medley of personalities and looks mirror the diversity and range of their music with something for everyone, ranging from bluesy rock, folky love songs and hedonistic trance-like anthems.

Dry ice and five shadowy figures open the set with The Cove. Lee’s shimmery cymbal opener is followed by a soft rock drum beat. The skillful guitar arrangement is immediately evident as is these lads’ ability to produce a wide harmonic range. It is easy to lose yourself in the moment whilst trying frantically to establish which sound is coming from whom. More will be revealed as they say, though split second recollections of Dogs (Pink Floyd) are elbowed out by the immense power of these slightly retro though refreshingly unfamiliar rocky riffs.

Enlightening has Danny’s acoustic intro over a heavy drum sound, while the extra face on spellbinding steel-stringed classical is Luko, a mate from Blackburn who has also contributed to the album (due in September). Luko’s attention-stealing classical guitar sound is merged with the warming compatibility of the two vocalists Mick and Danny. Mick’s intense and slightly more penetrating vocal merges with Danny’s relaxed, smooth pitch. Rod’s sliding rhythm guitar, bassist Jay’s steady presence and Lee’s youthful drumming present a contradictory picture of maturity and raw unrivalled talent.

Fight The Fire is a dance floor filler, an exciting boogie beat where bassist Jay comes into his own with funky ’70s riffs, and Danny’s intricate lead guitar and Mick’s punchy vocals ad gusto. This is disco meets Happy Mondays, strobe-fuelled madness at the extreme.

The Smiling Face, the new single written only recently in Danny’s bedroom, is a bluesy rock number which shines a well-deserved light on Rod’s wistful harmonica. Mick is almost Jagger-like in his vocal and in his performance whilst Danny holds his own gentle vocal then lets rip into his now recognisable bluesy licks.

Drunken Fool is another genre altogether, a love song, with a background possibly in folk. More potent harmonica redolent of another old master, Neil Young, is the backbone to a chorus which kicks in with precision drumming, Mick’s acoustic guitar and again young Danny on vocal. Whilst Danny is certainly no vocal marvel, what he lacks in strength in this area, he more than makes up for in commitment and songwriting ability.

Facing The Music, the band’s first released single, is rock’n’roll with a twist. Jay’s lonesome bass and Luko’s intricate and Mediterranean classical string plucks bewitch us whilst Mick and Danny’s vocals make for more of the boundary-busting sound which even livens the appreciative though quiet London crowd.

Steel Kneel is the crowd pleaser of the night, the track which has inspired intrigue and excitement amongst the already established Burn fan base. This bass heavy hypnotic guitar groove is tinged with darkness and acquaints us with drummer Lee Walsh’s vocals. A haunting and melodic anthem performed amidst more smoky dry ice evokes an almost spiritual feeling but with a voodooesque edginess.

Calling All is more hardcore, with an up-tempo neo-rockabilly guitar flavour to the insane and frantic strumming of all four guitarists. Mick and Danny’s singing, this time endorsed by the backing of Lee’s vocal give us a stomper, a floor filler to the max.

Danny’s outstanding screaming guitar leads a heavy drum beat into Sunstroke the last track of the evening. An action-packed 12 minutes of energy charged ’60s retro rock licks combined with the club ambience and sound of ’88. Thumping drum beats and guitar harmonies once again so perfect, this sound evokes euphoric recall of both those times, together with wanting to hear more.

The Burn are ablaze, the passion and unity of these northern souls is simple and undisguised. Their musical styles are endless and unrestrained, contemporary with elements of retro. They are making a significant imprint on our culture already and have something for everyone who has a genuine appreciation of musicianship and ideas.

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More on The Burn
Interview: The Burn
The Burn @ Cargo, London