Fireworks

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Ugly Kid Joe / Phil Campbell and the Bastard Sons / Yellowcake http://www.rocktopia.co.uk/media/reviews/photos/thumbnail/200x200s/3a/e2/93/Ugly-Kid-Joe-Live-thumb-5-1528402939.jpg

Added by Central Electronic Brain     June 07, 2018    
 
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Ugly Kid Joe / Phil Campbell and the Bastard Sons / Yellowcake - O2 Academy 2, Manchester (UK) - 17 April 2018

A funny one is this. The venue is pretty full for a gig that's from a band who haven't produced anything new since 2015; before that there was an EP in 2012 and before that it was the glory days of their first flush. This is essentially a heritage thing, but there's nothing wrong with that when it's done with humour and bonhomie; for the most part, this is.

First up is Yellowcake, a hard-pumping, crunchy Rock sound with a recognisable vocalist; oh yes, it's Whitfield Crane fronting the Ugly Kid Joe main-man's other band. He tells us this is their first ever gig, but you'd never know. He seems to be delighted with his new bandmates, clowning around and when they settle into a nice groove, the melodies among the banging make his certainty about them deserving.

Phil Campbell and those Bastard Sons are in possession of a fine album called 'Age Of Absurdity' and they are stunning tonight. Phil Campbell keeps the mystique by staying stage right some distance from the others, flicking the middle finger and stepping forward to peel off lovely licks. However, in early Ian Gillan resembling, huge-voice possessing front-man Neil Starr, they have a huge talent; he doesn't do much, but as he shakes his hair and pulls the mic back and forth, the seventies are brought to mind.

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They are actually on the border of danceable Heavy Rock tonight with the mix full of bottom end, 'Big Mouth' is ready to run from the off, 'Take Aim' is surprisingly melodic and when Starr plays with the crowd and spits us effortlessly for the completion in 'Get On Your Knees', we know this is something special. Forgetting the ill-advised but must be done 'Ace Of Spades' play through, they can be sure they've done themselves all sorts of good.

Soon after, the crowd are revving up for Ugly Kid Joe and they aren't disappointed for one moment with tonight's greatest hits/song remembrance set. 'Neighbor' kicks off well and the crowd sing every word, this is a celebration of songs like 'No One Survives', 'Devil's Playground' and 'Funky Fresh Country Club', and the band are mostly up for it, particularly bassist Cordell Clarke who seems delighted to be here. I do say mostly though. Not having seen Ugly Kid Joe before, it may just be a usual stage persona, but Whitfield doesn't look like he's always engaging, but the crowd sing along constantly regardless and this is what it's about tonight, reliving that time.

It could be called cynical if the faces weren't so full of joy and let's not forget that this was the 25th anniversary of 'America's Least Wanted', so that sharpens those memories. Ugly? Not at all, beautiful more like.

Steve Swift

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