The UKs ska punk scene has a fantastic knack of consistently churning out amazing ska punk bands. Over the years we've had the like of Capdown, Lightyear, King Prawn, Sonic Boom Six and [Spunge]. Another of those fantastic bands are Random Hand from Keighley who sadly announced they would be putting a halt on being a band for a while earlier this year. Thankfully not before one final album and tour. Wanting to make the most of seeing one of the finest live bands in the scene before they go away I have tickets to three of their final shows. This past Thursday was the first of the three, at the New Cross Inn in London. Here's what happened.
This would be my first time visiting the New Cross Inn and I have to say as soon as I walked in I knew that this would be a great venue for live music. The stage, whilst not being massive was a decent size and it was low so felt very inclusive. The floor area was also a decent size considering The New Cross Inn isn't a very large place. The first band up were The Popes Of Chillitown who recently released the excellent To The Moon (reviewed here). The Popes are without a doubt one of the most exciting new bands on the scene, their music and live performances giving out the kind of relentless energy very few bands can display. Despite the early start it was great to see the band put so much into their performance and they clearly just love performing together as a band. Excellent stuff.
Up next were Call Me Malcolm. I have to admit I hadn't ever listened to Call Me Malcolm before and kind of expected a Less Than Jake style of ska punk. I was quite wrong. The horn section was absolutely fantastic, really carrying the sound of the band forward. Like bands like Streetlight Manifesto the horns provided most of the melody to the songs rather than just added brass riffs throughout the track. Like the Popes Of Chillitown before them the energy of the set was immensely high, which is commendable when you consider just how warm the room was becoming. A highlight of the set was a brilliant cover of Metallica's Enter Sandman. Call Me Malcolm taken one of the biggest metal songs ever and turned it into one hell of a ska song. Definitely a band to keep an eye on.
Leeds based melodic skate punks The Human Project were the next band to take to the New Cross stage. I thought they probably had the hardest job of the three opening bands tonight. Being the only non ska band on the bill you might think it would be a bit of a fish out of water scenario but happily that wasn't the case at all. They played a set that was fast and furious with the intensity seemingly increasing with each song. The Human Project are a band that are so highly thought off in the punk scene and after finally seeing them live I can see why. Musically they were so tight and I loved that vocals were coming from everywhere. After finally seeing them live I understand fully what the fuss is all about and will make sure I pick up their CD very soon. You should as well.
Now it was time for Random Hand. Legends in the scene. As soon as front man Robin Leitch blasted out his first trombone riff the crowd was moving and it didn't stop until the very end of the night. At one point during the set I could actually feel the floor shaking beneath my feet such was the level of dancing. Impressive considering there was only about 100 people at the gig. This felt like a proper punk rock show, it was hot and sweaty and everyone was having the best time with a band that is so loved. The stage at New Cross was great for a punk rock show as well. It's lowness put the band on the same level as the crowd an makes the whole thing feel like a collaborative effort. This was my seventh time seeing Random Hand and I can't think of a time when they've been better, and they've always blown me away. Maybe because they know they won't be doing this much more for a long time but it felt like they really gave it the full beans on that stage. This made the crowd respond magnificently but there was one gentleman in particular I want to talk about. He was someone who clearly didn't know any of the bands that were playing the gig but he lost his bits to every single one of them. During Random Hands set he got on stage, stage dived and crowd surfed and looked as if he was having the best night of his life and that was fantastic to see. Random Hand played quite a varied set of classics and songs that I haven't heard them play in ages plus one brand new song which was a real hard hitting punk rock jam. It's the biggest shame that Random Hand will be taking the hiatus soon as they are the very best at what they do.
Now listening to A Man Like Jack McCall by Bangers