The Amazing Snakeheads
First of two supports tonight : Jim Valentine. The rock ' n ' roll 4 - piece provide indie rock - vocal melodies in a jam with The Black keys riffs. Jim Valentine looking like a character from S.E Hinton's : The Outsiders: all hair greased back, rock n roll swagger, hip shaking, lip curling and dressed in black. I hear what sounds like a cover of Gene Vincent's - Be Bop A Lula . A great stage presence and attitude. Indie rock n roll and i like it.
At the other end of the musical spectrum is John Knox Sex Club. An intense, captivating live experience. The 6-piece barely manage to squeeze on to the intimate stage of The Caves. Lead man Sean Cumming head down, singing low in to his mic while the band slowly build up the momentum. Suddenly it kicks off , Cumming jumps off the stage in to the crowd chanting, preaching or maybe given a firm talk in song lyrics , like The National's Lead man at a Scottish National Party rally. He points, he stare's and eventually hugs those unfortunate to be in the front row. The set maybe three songs, more like a communion jam of passionate words, frantic playing, all members animated, at times with their back's to the audience and hypnotized by their leader, so are the audience, including BBC Scotland Presenter Vic Galloway.
The last time headliner's The Amazing Snakeheads played the old bricked venue of The Caves, they supported The Jim Jones Revue, a messy night i'm sure. Sadly i missed that opportunity but after buying the band's debut Amphetamine Ballads on vinyl ( i must add ) i was a fan and needed to witness the Glaswegian 3 - piece live.
Not even one minute on stage, lead man Dale Bradley is stripped to the waist, he grimaces at the audience and fires right in to Where is my Knife. He struts playing hard like a grandson of Angus Young. I'm a Vampire is next: Snarly vocal attack, filthy bass and dirty blues riff's.
Bass player William Coombe is drinking a substance from a coffee cup, at the end he swigs it back and salutes the audience. Through out the set he stares the crowd out and shares buckfast with a member of the packed audience
The last bit of deafening reverb of punk rock sounding Here it comes again ring's out and i'm sure i start to see the walls slowly crumble, during which the crowd at the front decide it's time to start a mosh pit, which doesn't quite make it to the next song. During Storm Bradley mounts the drums in true rock style, roaring out the vocals like a lion while staring at the drummer, commanding he play harder. The poor lad: He must have to rest his hands in ice afterwards.
With what i imagine is a nod to the alternative classic punk rockers Pixies: Losing My Mind's opening riff and Bradley screaming 'I'm losing my mind' could be their Where is my mind. The lovely Laura St Jude joins the band and takes the baton for lead vocalist for the next number bullfighter, her vocal style is not unlike a Altered Images lead lady Clare Grogan while swigging a wine bottle with Siouxsie Sioux.
Nightime with it's tremolo riff intro could easily be ripped from a Tarantino soundtrack, while being spliced with The Cramps vocal style. The lyrics "I don't come alive to the nightime " Bradley is not kidding: A one man force, he's suddenly off the stage and working his way through the audience, while still playing the guitar, respectful slaps are given as he passes by. Flatlining reminds me of The Birthday Party, no saxophone tonight ( on album version ) just raucous and raw sounding blues rock. Last number Memories Bradley sings ' Take her by both hands and shake her ' clearly he knows how to treat his women , joking of course but it suits his stage persona.
The crowd and me included leave fulfilled by the live experience, with music this filthy, you should be given a free hose down afterwards on leaving the venue. The band just wrapped up a short scottish tour and are off soon touring the UK and Europe promoting their new single. I urge you get down to a local sweat pit soon. One lucky punter below beats me to a set list.
I'm a bit nervous but i make my way upstairs for a quick chat with Dale Bradley. The softly spoken glaswegian sit's down and opens me a can of beer. Humble, polite lad who's happy to chat :
I ask about his last few tours supporting Jim Jones Vevue and Jack White:
Me: Did Jack teach you any new tricks on guitar? Dale: Nah! we taught him a few things. Never got to hang out with him but he's a nice guy, busy man, it's a major operation, a real eye opener for us, to see cat's like that play every night is impressive. For him to ask my band was a big thing for us.
Me: Any stories about being on the road with Jim Jones Vevue? Dale: Nah! Can't say man. It would be uncouth.
Me: You've played some great European venue's with Jack White, Amsterdam City Hall and Olympia in Paris, favorite? Dale: Paris definitely but i love La Cigale that we played before.
Me: How did you end up on domino label ? Dale: We were just doing our own thing in Glasgow, the crowds started getting bigger, everyone came back to see us. We were then approached by a record company to cut a record, we said "fuckin aye " Only thing we said after was we wanted to record it in Glasgow at Green Door Studio, which they let us do and make the album we wanted to make. I'm really proud of it.
Me: You've been all over the radio stations, have you been on american radio show's? Dale : Aye man and Mexico, though I don't really pay attention to all that. Me: I first heard you on Steve Lamacq show on BBC 6 Music? Dale: Yeah man, that was a while ago, he saw us play in London and asked us on. Me: Do you stay sober for radio appearances? Dale: ( Laughs ) No man, i can't remember us being on. It's bizarre for us to be on stuff like that. I don't remember where we've been.
Me: If you could tour with anyone living or dead? Dale: James Brown , he's a legend. I did get to see him before he was gone.
Me: If you could have one of your tunes used in any movie, which one? Dale: Fantasia , it scared the hell out of me as a kid ( Me: Disney movie and The Amazing Snakeheads sound track? That would be messed up )
Me: Dream T - In The Park Line up?
Dale: Friday: James Brown Saturday: Hank Williams Sunday: Leonard Cohen
Me: Hank Williams fan? Dale: Love all that man, grew up listening to his stuff.
Dale goes on to tell me how bands should do it the hard way, slogging it out, playing live and D.I Y style. He's shocked how far they have got and that people come out to see them. He used to suffer stage fright but worked hard for three years playing sweat pit's in Glasgow and a residency the band put on themselves gained confidence and changed his life. I ask a couple of less serious questions to finish:
Me: If you could go back in time to witness any gig ? Dale: Hank Williams
( Hank Williams Moanin ' The Blues Live )
Me: Got to ask, do you own a pair of snakeskin boots ? Dale ( Laugh's ) I should , shouldn't i?