The Amazing Snakeheads – Electric Ballroom (23 October 2014)

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When I first heard The Amazing Snakeheads‘ cracking debut single Testifying Time my first thought was “right, so who’s this?” In the assumption they would be someone I knew from some previous incarnation. It seems not. They are neither some punk kids gone hipster or a studied exercise in form.

If you’re not familiar, they play a kinda swampy garage thing with Screaming J Nesbitt vocals over the top. Like SAHB does The Cramps. Or Rumble. With vocals. The aural aggression backed up by lyrics peppered with (often sexually) violent imagery. There is a real sense of violence and danger to the band. Frontman, and focal point of the band, Dale Barclay (Dale? in Glasgow?) is all shirt-aff and sovvies. Gurning and gobbing and goading the audience. Buckfast gets ceremonially passed around the band. Thankfully, a peppering of vampire references and an inability to keep a straight face diffuses the palpable sense of menace. (I keep thinking about the fact Sean Penn played Spanky in the Slab Boys.)

Been wanting to see these guys for some time. The album release tour date down here sold out before it was announced and had tickets changing hands for the price of a small country. Their RSD appearance at Rough Trade was so over-subscribed there’s tell of a near riot on Brick Lane. I did manage to get to them at the Wickerman this year. And, they were great. The niggles about debut album Amphetamine Ballads put to bed when confronted with the sheer raw live energy.

They take to this bigger stage with all the swagger you’d expect. Playing it like they’re headlining Che Stadium. And, they pull it off with style. For a while. And, then those niggles about the album start to resurface. And, magnified in this venue, they just loom larger (by definition, I guess). Did they not do this one already? There’s little in the way of variation or melody in this. It should be short visceral fun. I find myself thinking they’re not ready for a venue this size (it is half empty). But, a sweatbox would only have served to mask their failings. However, maybe at this point in their career that’s what they need.

Still, looking forward to what they do next. And, will be there next time they play.


Written by Tony Kiernan

24 October 2014 at 5:38 pm

Posted in Gigs, London, Music

One Response

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  1. […] The Amazing Snakeheads, who I caught at the Wickerman (in other news, I was back at Wickerman!!), and thoroughly enjoyed, were pretty new. Picked up their album Amphetamine Ballads. It’s entertaining. But, like everything about the band, just not quite enough of something. They’re neither proper gang scary enough, not cartoon rocking enough. Still good, though. Seeing them again in bigger shinier venues, you kind of suspect where they might be going. It’s fun for someone young and Scottish to be doing something at least a bit novel. […]

    2014 |

    01 January 2015 at 12:35 am

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