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Dead Meadow, Bush Hall, London, May 26th 2010

May 30, 2010

So, from thirty quid for a disappointing evening with Hope Sandoval to ten quid for a thoroughly enjoyable evening with three good bands. That certainly put me in a better mood… Opening act Wolf People are signed to the excellent Jagjaguwar label (Black Mountain, The Besnard Lakes, Okkervil River and more), which is reason enough to make me check them out early in the evening, and I liked them – heavy folk-rockish elements beefed up by a big dollop of Sabbath, a smattering of Creedence and even a sprinkling of Golden Earring. I’ll certainly check them out again, at the End Of The Road Festival in September if not before.

Next on was Duke Garwood, a small-casual chap whose appearance belies the dark, weird swampy blues he plays. There’s a lot of Zappa and Beefheart, too, and it’s a heady mix, particularly accompanied by the fierce drumming of Paul May, a big man with a tiny drum-kit.

After a few squirts of dry ice, the trio of Dead Meadow took the stage and launched into their set, backed by a screening of their movie Three Kings. I’d first seen the band a couple of years ago at the Green Man Festival and nodded admiringly at their riff-drenched psychedelic style. To my ears, they sound even better now (despite Bush Hall’s so-so acoustics) and the guitar-playing is top-notch – lots of controlled feedback and wah-wah, and some great solos too.

For a trio, they make a surprising amount of heavy crunching noise, which probably explains the presence in the crowd of quite a number of rock-loving geezers my age and older. Dead Meadow do sound a lot like early Sabbath, so I suppose if you like that old-fashioned riff-based rock, where do you go to hear it these days? Still, we were outnumbered by the younger beardie indie folk-rock crowd, so there was no danger of there being a surfeit of denim, though the check shirt seems to be worn by everyone these days, young and old.

In addition to the fine music, what I could see of the movie looked entertaining, with that late 60s Californian heavy symbolism vibe to it. In fact, the three hooded characters of mystery, wandering through the landscape, reminded me of the hooded riders in Neil Young’s wonderfully bonkers movie Journey Through The Past – and there’s a lot in common between Dead Meadow’s music and Neil’s heavier Crazy Horse output in ’69 and ’70. Which gets a big thumbs up from me, naturally…

And here’s the Three Kings movie trailer for your consideration:

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