Monday, 24 September 2018

Gig Review: Call Me Malcolm at New Cross Inn 20/9/18

September is turning into a bit of a gig marathon for Emma and myself. Twenty days into the month and we found ourselves on our way to our fifth gig in September. We were on our way back to the New Cross Inn for a night of brilliant ska punk presented by Be Sharp Promotions and headlined by Call Me Malcolm along with Millie Manders and The Shut Up, Tree House Fire, Just Say Nay and Matt of Popes Of Chillitown. Of course, all of this fun was put on by Be Sharp Promotions. Due to the slightly early start time we unfortunately missed Matt Popes but judging from his performance at Level Up back in July I'm sure it was a lot of fun.

We did however make it in time for Just Say Nay. The (on this occasion) eight piece are fast becoming one of my favourite bands in the UK ska punk scene thanks to their high energy performances and infectious nature. Beginning their set with the songs Mud Pie and Mr Plank Goes To Town, Just Say Nay gradually begin to get the early crowd moving along to their set. Of course, as the set progresses, more and more people begin to have a dance. Whether it's a full on skank or just swaying from side to side, it's impossible to not enjoy and be completely captivated by JSN. Frontman Jak's voice is as always on fine form and he is a very watchable performer. I need to see JSN on a bigger stage to see him have the room to really cut loose. Along with favourites such as Jiggy Bean and Bouncer, the band performed a new song that's set to be recorded for the band's upcoming debut album. They were planning on playing two new songs but unfortunately due to time restraints, their set had to be cut short so they finished the set with the always great fun Low Blow. Always truly wonderful to see Just Say Nay live.

Up next were Tree House Fire. I was really looking forward to seeing Tree House Fire full band again after being blown away by their (almost) acoustic set at Level Up Festival. The Welsh five piece have recently released a brand new EP titled Fool's Gold and I was looking forward to hearing some songs off of it for the very first time. I've always felt that Tree House Fire are at their very best live and of course this was no exception. From the opening track Push, Tree House Fire had the crowd moving along to their reggae sound. Playing old classics such as Dutty Girl and Mr Aggressor alongside newer tracks such as Fools Gold seemed to really please the New Cross crowd. It's really nice that a band can come from so far away and it feel like they're playing a hometown show. That's definitely the feeling at a Tree House Fire New Cross Inn show. Finishing up with Rock To The Rhythm, Tree House Fire showcased why they are so highly thought of in the UK's ska and reggae scene. If you haven't checked out Fool's Gold yet then you should as it's a fantastic EP.

The penultimate band of the night were Millie Manders and The Shut Up who were celebrating the release of their brand new EP, Shut Up. At this point of the evening sadly the night was running quite behind so Millie and the boys had to rush through their set. This didn't stop an excellent performance. Millie is one of the most charismatic performers in the scene and sings as well as all these pop stars that the radio forces down our throats. She is an exceptionally talented individual and along with her band, is well on the way to becoming a big name in the UK music world. Unfortunately The Shut Up's usual drummer was out of action with a hip injury so Jack from Popes Of Chillitown was drafted in to play the show. Not that you would have known, as the band played a brilliant set. Starting out with a track named Brave from the new EP before going into an older number named Bacchus, which is a really fun drinking song, did a great job in getting the crowd warmed up. From then on they had more and more of the crowd dancing along to many of the songs from previous EP Obsession Transgression including Teddy, in which Millie joined us in the crowd and had a bit of a sit down whilst singing the track. Interestingly they finished the set with the other three songs from the new EP. I thought this was a brave move that really paid off. The final song, One That Got Away, really stood out and is a track I'm looking forward to seeing live again. MMATSU are becoming a force to be reckoned with. Great songs, great live, great band.

What an amazing year Call Me Malcolm are having. They've released the best ska punk album in years and have been playing shows all over the country including Rebellion Festival and a show stealing performance at Level Up Festival. So you have to assume a headline show at the New Cross Inn was going to be yet another special moment and of course it was. We made our way down to the front ready to sing and dance the rest of our night away. It seemed that the rest of the New Cross Inn crowd were intent on doing the same. As soon as Malcolm opened with The Gentleman And The Onion, the room was in full voice. Even with stand in horn players, Lloyd from Easydread and Eve from Lead Shot Hazard, the band were on top form as they blasted through track after track from the amazing I Was Broken When You Got Here. After a few songs they brought out a very special guest in the form Bruce the Bunny who joined the crowd for some dancing. For the faced paced skate punk track Jacob Bruce initiated a big circle pit with the crowd gleefully bashing into each other. Next up was the more laid back Restore Factory Settings. Restore Factory Settings is such a great track to sing along to with a room full of your best friends. Then the crowd completely lost it with the next track Does My Offbeat Look Big On This. A real highlight for old school Malcolm fans. There was a fantastic moment of crowd participation when frontman Lucias got everyone to do an American sports hands in moment – I've never seen that at a gig before. Of course they finished with the banger All My Nameless Friends. This song is not just an ode to the New Cross ska punk scene but a track about how there are always people there to help you when you need it. This track finishes with a huge finale with some fantastic sing-along "whoa-oh's" (my throat is still sore from belting them out as loud as I could) that bring the crowd together in unison. It's probably been said to death already but the line "all my nameless best friends will be there" sums up the New Cross scene perfectly and it's always a pleasure to see such high quality bands in my favourite venue with so many of my favourite people.

This review wa written by Colin Clark. Photos by Emma Prew.

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