Neon Animal / The Black Bullets / Dirty Ol' Crow Hot
Written by Central Electronic Brain     March 31, 2018    
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Neon Animal / The Black Bullets / Dirty Ol' Crow - Black Heart, London (UK) - 23 March 2018

This was such an energetic show with all three bands literally owning the stage! I don't quite remember seeing three young, relatively unknown bands displaying such high levels of stage craft and commanding audience attention in the way I saw tonight. The crowd were unusually responsive for a London audience, although it certainly helped that it was Friday and a lot of "rocket fuel" had undoubtedly been consumed, but there was an interchange of energy between crowd and bands that is certainly rare.

Openers Dirty Ol' Crow reminded me of a very young Skid Row. Their vocalist Vik was bursting with chutzpah and charisma, and all members of the band literally threw themselves at the audience in a sustained attack. Doing a mixture of covers (pretty decent versions of The Sex Pistols and Nazareth tracks) and original hi-energy Hard Rock numbers, Vik literally lost his shirt in the onslaught. Laying exhausted over the risers at the end of the show, they did a pretty convincing act of giving everything they had – they were certainly exciting to watch!

Fireworks - The Ultimate Magazine For Melodic Rock Music

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The Black Bullets were Motörhead loud and the vocals were a bit too much of a Punky shout for my taste. Nevertheless, their vocalist Billy T. has undoubted stage presence. Coming across as a combination of Scott Weiland and Josh Todd, he was extensively tattooed for a young person in a very "don't give a fuck" Rock 'n' Roll way and had a cocky assurance that seemed to literally surf the energy from the crowd. He was generous in pouring large amounts of Cloven Hoof into audience mouths, which is certainly a move designed to create rapport. Alice, the female bassist, reminded me a little of The Amorettes with her confident, smiley engagement and her kick ass posturing with her bass deep into the crowd. They were certainly difficult to contain in such a small space! If they can match the energy with memorable songs, they should go far!

By the time Neon Animal hit the stage, the place was too crowded for singer Mark Thorn to venture into the crowd and it was a very small stage for someone channelling the bastard love child of the New York Dolls and Mick Jagger. Inevitably, he spent huge amounts of time directly engaging inches away from the front row. Tonight belonged to Neon Animal given that it was the launch of their re-issued album with lyric booklet through Cargo Records. Only one hundred copies were made of the original album (of which I am a proud owner of one), but having completely sold out and impressed with live work, they have started to achieve recognition and a re-issue of the album was necessary by demand. The crowd were clearly among the hundred that already owned the album (or at least the MP3s!) as they all seemed to know the tracks and it was surprising to see such diehard devotion for such a new band.

Neon Animal Live

The slower tracks on the album like 'Spin' and 'Bedtime Stories' were rocked up and seemed faster live. Killer tracks 'Kiss Like Dynamite', 'Bring Back Rock 'N' Roll From The Dead' and 'I'm Killing Myself And Everyone Here Is Helping Me' were all in the set, and the combination of Thorn's irrepressible energy and Miguel Martin's blistering Rock 'n' Roll guitar were a formidable combination. Clothes were ripped off at the front and there was a heaving mass of pumping fists, sweaty bodies and a slightly dangerous, out of control vibe at the front that you get when a crowd starts to be more than the sum of its parts. Thorn thanked the crowd by saying they were the best he'd ever played with, a telling use of "with" and not "for" communicating the bond achieved between stage and pit tonight. I can easily believe he was telling the truth. There was a lot of Rock 'n' Roll magic around tonight and this was one gig I am not going to forget.

Review by Dawn Osborne, photo by Rachel Storm

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