The Virginmarys have developed an almost cult-like devoted fan base. Likewise, for me (and subsequently my husband) they are a band who from the moment we heard them we bought everything they had done on CD (at least what we could get hold of) and have followed them religiously since. When we saw that they were playing in London close to hubby’s birthday, we immediately booked flights over from our home in Spain and re-lived some gig-going days that have been neglected way too much since moving to the sunshine.
As the newly painted Borderline started to swell, first on stage were The Hyena Kill. I didn’t know much about them, least of all that they were only formed of singer Steven Dobb and drummer Lorna Blundell. But blimey, what a sound they can make for a two-piece! Steven’s well-loved guitar screamed into life and Lorna smashed hard at the skins and cymbals as they gave us a taste of things to come for the night. It may have been the sound they had intended to create, but for me, the vocals were too far behind in the mix and that made them hard to make out over the super-distorted reverb-heavy guitar sound. Most of the vocals are passionately screamed but the clean parts could have been better defined in my humble opinion. Having said that, the duo gave more than 100% and that really came through in the performance and served as a great crowd warmer for our headliner.
With a quick set change and sound check we awaited the appearance of Ally, Danny and newbie Ross. Nina Simone’s “Feeling Good” is cool intro music and the stage door opened to rapturous applause.
Kicking things off with debut album King of Conflict’s “Dead Man’s Shoes” was a perfect way to get us all grinning from ear to ear at Ally’s captivating stage presence, Danny’s insane drumming and seeing Ross take charge of the bass and backing vocals as if he’d been there from day one.
We were standing close enough to peek at the set list but I didn’t want any spoilers. Part of the fun of seeing a band you love is the anticipation of hearing the opening riff of your favourite song and spotting the new ones. They didn’t disappoint as new track “Sweet Loretta (You Know Me Better)” went down a storm and jumping about to my personal favourite from Divides “Free to Do What Ever They Say” totally made my night.
Other highlights apart from marvelling at Danny’s unique stand-up stance and cymbal smashing energy was another big favourite, the blues-laden “Ends Don’t Mend” which was only a little hindered by an over-zealous fan trying to get on stage and being swiftly escorted off again (though we were all a bit miffed that security allowed him to stay in the mosh pit). Hearing another new track was also a real treat and I can’t wait to get them on the next release.
During the short departure from the stage for the classic rock encore, I leaned over to hubby to tell him the track I had guessed would be the encore. My correct guess of “Motherless Land” was unleashed on the crowd who were in no way ready to go home yet. With references to the current turbulent political times, Ally then introduced our final treat “Bang Bang Bang” to which we devotees suitably jumped about and sang our hearts out.
It was a brilliantly loud and energetic gig and I know I wasn’t the only one who didn’t want the night to end.