The Carnabys @Barfly 21/01/16
The Carnabys at Barfly; don’t mind if I do. I tried to remember where I’d seen them before. Well, it was a while ago at Hard Rock Calling in 2013, but we hadn’t crossed paths since; time to put that right. Before the main event, Hoodoo Daze put in a good shift with a blend of psychedelia and big guitar riffs harking back to early Pink Floyd at times and a bass player who threw some serious Peter Hook shapes. Good response, but you could feel the anticipation ratcheting up as The Carnabys prepared to launch into their set. The audience at the front of the stage was buzzing even before the band finished their last minute tuning checks and launched into “Great Dane in the Graveyard”.
It all went a bit chicken oriental after that with a mass of bodies jumping up and down in front of the stage as the band locked in to the pulse, with drums, bass and guitars meshing perfectly at breakneck speed before Jack Mercer’s powerful vocals soared in over the wall of sound. And that’s just the first thirty seconds. The set was a mix of songs from “No Money on the Moon” (including “Breathing”, Is That My Baby”, “Come Over, Come Stay”, “SNIKS” and “Where I’d Rather Be”) and the upcoming 2016 album (including “Great Dane…”, “Elizabeth” and “Peaches and Bleach”) and the almost obligatory Bowie tribute, a rip-roaring version of “The Jean Genie”.
There’s a certain retro feel to this band; you can draw a straight line back in time through The Carnabys and The Jam and to The Who. The all have the same energy, good tunes, great playing and a definite London vibe and attitude. There’s a bit of rock in and some late seventies power pop, but the mix of melodic bass lines, two guitars and some frantic, almost Moon-like, drumming creates the kind of excitement I thought had died out after Two Tone. They’ve got the tunes, the stories, the ability and the moxie; let’s see what 2016 brings.
And just a word of consolation to Dana Immanuel and the Stolen Band (or three-quarters of it) who should have played before The Carnabys but were reshuffled to the late slot. They should have been playing to a full house, but lost out when the venue almost emptied after The Carnabys finished their set. Shame really, because Dana’s a great songwriter and the band was on good form.
The new album from The Carnabys is scheduled for release later this year.