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'London, Highbury Corner, The Garage, 11 Feb 2017'   

-  Genre: 'Heavy Metal'

Our Rating:
This show was both a one-off sort of reunion, but when your last London show was Valentine's day in 2015 it's not really long enough for that. So maybe this is a farewell show before they pack up until its time for a real reunion tour in the twenties or thirties? Whatever else, it was certainly to celebrate the fact that they have been a band for 20 years!!

We got into the Garage to see that it's in the middle of its latest makeover. It's no longer sponsored by big caffeine, so there are no signs outside the club and inside they have redone the bar to make it look really cool and have gone back to having all the walls painted black once more. This time, it all comes without the asbestos ceiling of the good old days or the curtain in front of the stage.

Meansteed came on just after we arrived to roar through their set. They opened with a great Hard rock song about chasing you down and how they want to rock and they do exactly that. They then set out their stall perfectly on Boogie Sugar Boogie which had that proper old school boogie rock to get down and headbang to, with monster riffs and a great guitar solo from Alison Curry.

Chomp On nailed us with another heavy riff and the sort of groove Saxon would be proud of as Matt Dorkings sang about eating before they crushed us with what I think was Two Good Fists And a Death Wish. My notes seem to suggest the next song was Rap Boy For Love but that can't be right can it? Anyway, another steam roller riff and a band that know that sounding hard and heavy is all about having a good time while you rock.

Rolling Thunder kept up the pace and had more of Alison's shredding guitar pounding into our brains. Idiot Without A Cause was about as political as they get and it has a great riff in the vein of, say, Saxon meets Thin Lizzy. Stand And Deliver was not a cover of Adam & The Ants but another riff monster of a tune to bang our heads to.

They finished with Engage The Rage. When it got to the instrumental in the middle, it saw Matt go into the audience where Alison got on his shoulders and played her solo as Matt carried her to the back of the club and then he ran back to get his guitar back on while she continued her solo as she made her way back to the stage. Wow, it was a great way to end a really good set. As ever Meansteed was great fun.

After the break, during which time some of the fans seemed to be getting into a bit of a sploshing session with their beer,Jettblack then opened with Raining Rock. It came with a dynamic call and response workout to get an already up for it crowd really going nuts for them and it led straight into Broken Bones featuring a great solo from Jon Dow.

When It Comes To Loving was next after the first round of "thank you's" to all of us for showing up to see the band in the venue. I must have seen them in about a dozen times over the years. It sounded as tight and honed as ever and they were clearly enjoying themselves, especially Will Stapleton as he played his solo on the raised bit of the stage.

They then locked us all in the Prison Of Love so everyone could sing along. Then came Fooled By A Rose which was one of their first songs to stick in my head after the first time we saw them as an opening act at the Garage way back when. It still sounds great and has always been a live favourite.

Before they could play Motherfucker they had some technical issues and during the pause 3 quarters of the band gave us a verse or so of Heard It Through The Grapevine. The heads-down no nonsense rocking then continued with a meaty version of Motherfucker which broke down in the solo into a few bars of Paint It Black before they finished it off.

Tom Wright gave us another of his cheeky intros to In Between Lovers which I think was the song wherein the Sploshers went wild and drenched one of them with three or 4 beers to the consternation of any of us who saw it going on. Well Not Even Love could make sense of the Sploshing but it's still a fan favourite for certain.

While they kept up the banter thanking us all for our support over the years it was time for Disguises which was one of the songs that I don't remember hearing them play live that much. They then launched into Slip it On: a song guaranteed to have everyone singing along to it. They kept the party going with Get Your Hands Dirty which went down as well as it always has.

They then slowed things down and played Red Horizon, a song that I last saw them play at the acoustic show they did at the Vans Shop on Camden High street. It was as moody as they got all night. Then, to close the show and up the energy levels they finished with Two Hot Girls which made us all feel like they were leaving us in Bright sunshine despite being in a black room in the middle of winter.

Yes of course they got an encore. It gave them the opportunity to say more goodbyes before they launched into Holding so they could let us all know they had found the truth lurking in a tight riff and pounding drums. They brought proceedings to a close with Explode: a great, riotous way to finish things off and leave us hoping it won't be more than a decade or so before they return to rock our world.
  author: simonovitch

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