On a bitingly cold December night, at the point Kill Chaos take to the stage at Islington’s Relentless Garage, most have opted to stick to the comforting climes of the Wetherspoon’s around the corner, leaving the East Midlands trio playing to but a dedicated few early revellers. Fortunately, the band’s BritRock tropes go well with tonight’s general aura of nostalgia, and Jamie Lenman’s hand-picked tour support express gratitude at being able to play a venue the size of The Garage, an opportunity which they admit themselves they are normally rarely afforded. As on their freshly released full-length ’PromisesPromises’, their more melodic material such as set-closer ‘Crush’ does come off a lot better than their heavier side, though a good crunchy riff does go down well with the steadily gathering masses. (3.25/5)
Leeds noiseniks Castrovalva are next to take tonight’s stage, all clad in their own band t-shirts. If that heinous crime against gig ettiquette wasn’t enough to put you off, the music undoubtedly does the rest. It seems like bands that worship Mike Patton’s weirder projects (Fantomas, Mr Bungle) easily forget that he could pen a belting tune too, but coherent songwriting is forsaken here in favour of obstreperous obliqueness, along with some pale imitations of The Blood Brothers. Sure, they could pick worse bands to be heavily influenced by, and oddness in music is far from a crime, but Castrovalva’s set is an eminently forgettable one – if frontman Leemun Smith spent nearly as much time writing something musically compelling as he does bellowing at the audience tonight, they might be onto something. (2/5)
It’s left up to the man of the moment Jamie Lenman to subvert the torpor served up thus far, and boy, does he deliver. Despite having only been around for mere weeks, Jamie’s double-album ‘Muscle Memory’ has been fervently embraced by those in attendance – opening number ‘Shotgun House’ recieves a raucous reception (despite being quite a delicate folk/country ditty) and it’s immediately apparent that this crowd are ravenous to consume anything Lenman is offering from the palm of his hand. The set represents the two diverse, polarised discs of the aforementioned debut, with the burlesque cabaret swing of ‘Pretty Please’ (found on the ’Memory’ disc) found next to the rampant, viscious and brutal ‘One Of My Eyes Is A Clock’, a song as muscular as its “side” implies. The real treat of tonight’s set, especially for sad bastards like me who petulantly cling onto the past, is the presence of Reuben material in the set – Lenman’s former charges are represented in fine style, with ‘No One Wins The War’ and ‘Keep It To Yourself’’ igniting the moshpit and ‘Moving To Blackwater’ and ‘Good Luck’ providing two of tonight’s most emphatic singalongs.
Tonight’s show marks the last date on Lenman’s whirlwind tour of the UK, which is marked by Kill Chaos re-emerging in similar sartorial elegance to Jamie’s backing band, joining in with an acapella stomp-along and being presented with bottles of squeezy mayonnaise as tour memorabilia. It’s this…erm…“unique” sense of humour that makes Lenman such an engaging character to watch on stage, and while Jamie’s solo ventures may not gain him a huge audience outside of those that were already fans of his work with Reuben, rock music has certainly missed personalities like his. Lenman currently has no further plans to tour or record past this run of dates, but one hopes he’ll continue to create and entertain at his current rate, because this live show is something quite special indeed. (4.5/5)
Words by Ollie Connors