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Friday, 1 July 2011

Live Review - The Sonics - Ray Davies’ Meltdown, Southbank Centre London June 18th 2011

Photo: Steve Worrall

Considering The Sonics split in 1966 they left a legacy that has touched generations of garage rockers and it was a rare treat to catch the band live. They only got back together in 2007, fuelled mainly by mounting acclaim from artists such as The Cramps, Fuzztones, White Stripes and Black Keys.

Their influence is even more remarkable considering they released only a handful of original songs, but, hey, what original songs they are! Tracks such as ‘Shot Down’, ‘Cinderella’ and ‘Boss Hoss’ are all played tonight, burning with a visceral energy that would put younger bands to shame.

Tonight’s line-up consisted of original members Gerry Roslie on vocals and keyboards, surely one of the most underrated, raw and soulful singers in rock ’n’ roll, Rob Lind on sax and harp, takes centre stage and to his left founder member, and excellent guitarist, Larry Parypa. They are joined by powerful drummer Ricky Johnson and livewire bassist Freddie Dennis, who the crowd really warmed to with his energy and lung busting vocal contributions.

The band has just released a mini-album on The Sonics Recording Co called 8, and the new tracks performed tonight fitted in seamlessly with the set, ‘Cheap Shades’ and ‘Don’t Back Down’ were particularly memorable.

Their reclaiming of the classic ‘Have Love Will Travel’, probably the band’s signature, proved to be a highlight, but it was the opening chords of ‘Strychnine’ that spurred people to finally abandon their seats and rush to the front of the stage. The crowd went wild and the atmosphere lifted considerably. An awesome version of ‘Psycho’ ended the main set with Gerry Roslie still able to conjure up that awesome raw scream that could send Little Richard and Frank Black scuttling off to find earplugs.

The evening drew to a close with a rousing run through of their first ever single ‘The Witch’, it’s received by rapturous applause and the band leave the stage obviously touched by the warm reception. They deserve the acclaim, and it’s great to see them relishing the opportunity to play these songs to an eager new audience.

Steve Worrall

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