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Wolfmother, Brixton Academy, January 21st 2010

January 22, 2010

Aussie rockers Wolfmother first appeared on my radar last October when I saw them play at Neil Young’s Bridge School Benefit shows in California. As is the Bridge way, they played with acoustic instruments and I smiled as they trotted out a set of pastiche Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin riffs. What’s more, the big-haired vocalist even sounds like Robert Plant at his shriekiest. Neil Young clearly liked them, as he could be seen toe-tapping energetically stage-left (see the dodgy video below).

I realise that they play louder and electric normally and discovered that my teenage son likes them, so we headed off to Brixton expecting an evening of raawwwk. Support band the Black Angels (who I saw a couple of years ago and enjoyed) have a nice line in fuzzy, driving West Coast psychedelic 60s garage, but the appalling sound in the Academy nearly ruined their set entirely.

Why do bands tolerate such atrocious sound? I appreciate that the sound man is there to make the headliners sound good (but even Wolfmother were audibly unbalanced and boomy), but there’s no need to make the support almost unlistenable. In all my years of going to the Academy, only Neil Young has managed to get good sound out of it – and that’s because he ships in all his own crew and spends painstaking hours soundchecking.

Anyway, Wolfmother came on and did their thing. It’s all very entertaining if too play-by-numbers for my liking, but the crowd lapped it up. About half of them seemed to be expat Aussies who were getting extremely drunk. My gig buddy The Suit said tartly that Aussies in London will go and see any Aussie band, even if they don’t like or know the music. Which might be true, and there was certainly a lot of shouting at each other and spilling of drinks going on.

My son thoroughly enjoyed it in the moshpit until he realised that he’d been pickpocketed (through a zipped pocket). It turns out that gangs have been targeting big venues (particularly the Academy) and pickpocketing en masse. It would be nice if the venue could put up a big sign to that effect, but I guess they don’t want to harm their ‘reputation’. Bummer.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Astral Weekes permalink
    January 22, 2010 5:42 pm

    Ah well … you should have a chance to recover with the folkies at The Roundhouse tonight 🙂

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