EIGHT ROUNDS RAPID + DEALING WITH DAMAGE + THE CHARLEMAGNES – HOPE & ANCHOR, ISLINGTON, LONDON 12.3.22
I’d previously seen Eight Rounds Rapid supporting Wilko Johnson, and also The Godfathers, but this is the first time that I’ve seen them as a headline act. They have an extensive supporting bill here at the Hope & Anchor, the first act from which is Cassie Fox, who performs solo with an electric guitar. Unfortunately I only catch the last song of her set, which I can only describe as visceral.
Next up are The Charlemagnes, who are purveyors of skilful and exciting late 1970s new-wave influenced rock. Their material is very sharp and they have a good sense of dynamics. Their performance is taken to another level by some very atmospheric psych guitar effects. It isn’t over-egging the omelette to say that they are really rather superb.
Check out The Charlemagnes on Bandcamp.
Dealing With Damage follows on with their punchy 21st Century punk. Songs such as ‘We Make Bombs To Feel Safe’ seem far too relevant today. From a muso point of view, I’m pretty sure that the performance of this song is the only time that I’ve seen anyone finger-picking a Les Paul Junior. ‘Stop Everything’ is fast and furious, whilst ‘Write It Down’ is about articulating a feeling. Meanwhile ‘John’s Gone’ is a moving tribute to the late producer John Hannon. They finish with ‘Grey-Eyed Athena’, which is a cover by the band Senator Flux.
Find out more at dealingwithdamage.com
Eight Rounds Rapid take the stage with the minimum of fuss. Singer David Alexander and drummer Lee Watkins are dressed in suits with white shirts and black ties, looking like they could be associates of the Kray twins. Guitarist Simon Johnson and bassist Jules Cooper are more casual. They quickly cut into ‘Bully Boy’ from their second album ‘Objet D’Art’. I’m pleased to see that their biting old-school R’n’B remains razor sharp. David Alexander seems to be concentrating on melody a little more, rather than his previously largely deadpan approach. To be honest, I’m not entirely sure which I prefer. David dedicates tonight’s set to the late John Hannon, and appears visibly upset.
The parallels between Eight Rounds Rapid and Dr. Feelgood seem more apparent tonight than they have previously. However, Feelgood remain one of a few influences, rather than it being a case of ERR aping Feelgood’s work.
A few months after I last saw them, supporting The Godfathers at Guildford Suburbs in February 2020, they released a new album called ‘Love Your Work’. We get four songs from the (relatively) new album: ‘Love Don’t’, ‘Eating’, ‘Onesie’ and ‘Tricks’. There seems to have been a greater emphasis on melody than hitherto. Not that their older songs lack melody.
There is an air of barely concealed menace about Eight Rounds Rapid live. You frequently get the impression that it could kick off, but quite how or why is never clear. I think that this is called ‘attitude’, and it is very rock ‘n’ roll.
The set list tends to lean in favour of the band’s older material, with favourites such as ‘My Mate’, ‘Steve’, ‘Talent’, and ‘Like It’ well to the fore. I’m surprised that Eight Rounds Rapid aren’t better known. They’re a thrilling live band with material to match. I simply can’t recommend them enough, especially to the lucky people of Brighton, who have the opportunity to catch them live at The Pipeline (courtesy of Garageland promoters) on Friday March 25th. Also on the bill are SKiNNY MiLK and Bad Girlfriend. Grab your tickets HERE and get along there!!!
Eight Rounds Rapid setlist:
‘Mr. Pharmacist’ (Fall cover)
Find out more at www.eightroundsrapid.com