Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell / Leaf Hound
Headlining tonight are Leaf Hound – or more accurately, Pete French and three other blokes – playing the album Growers of Mushroom in its entirety to mark the 40th anniversary. While some seem to rate this LP as a monstrous Led Zeppelin-beater I’ve never quite understood the legend that’s built up around it. With the band playing a note perfect though rather sterile and soul-less version of that particular platter, my thoughts inevitably turn more to tonight’s opening act.
Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell look and sound like they were cryogenically frozen in 1971 and have recently been defrosted in order to terrorize modern rock crowds. Channelling the kind of artifice-free proto-metal played by the likes of Budgie, Buffalo or Dust, they share an enviable on-stage chemistry that the headliners tonight dismally fail to replicate. ASCS lay down a slew of songs that are soon to feature on their debut album with a raucous fuck-you attitude augmented by Flying Vs and outrageous facial hair. Tracks like ‘Cursed Earth’ showcase how heavily fuzzed and fucked up rock can still be essential, with its fire-breathing riffery and solos like knife wounds in their brutality. Their occasional onstage larking never overshadows their obvious sonic telepathy or burning passion of the performance.
ASCS give a storming rendition of Buffalo’s ‘Bean Stew’ to close their set, which, compared to Leaf Hound’s version of ‘Freelance Fiend’ twenty minutes later, perfectly sums the evening up. To wit: technical precision and polished competence means nothing when put up against blood and guts spilled out on the stage from a band that still gives a shit about rock ‘n’ roll. The younger men take the prize this time.