Even having the singer of the headline act performing as the opener didn’t drag a huge number of people into the Garage as doors opened, which is a shame – for the punters. Yellowcake turned out to be a revelation, very much a metal act, with influences from groove to doom in their sound. One or two little twinkles reminded me of Ugly Kid Joe, but on the whole this was a different beast entirely.
Generally quite heavy sounding, the opening song had Crane channeling his inner Ozzy while his co-founder, Jeff Curan who he discovered in Australia, ground out the riffs on guitar. They were genuinely entertaining and way more than a vanity project. Yellowcake are a band I would definitely check out again. A shame the name makes me think of the little disinfectant block you find in the urinals, but hey.
We went from metal to hard rock with Phil Campbell and the Bastard Sons as the Motörhead legend and his progeny took the main support slot by storm. Fronted by the only non-family-member, Neil Starr, the band kept the crowd rocking for around 45 minutes with tracks from their latest album (The Age of Absurdity), a couple of older numbers and a cover or two.
They opened with “Big Mouth” and Campbell Sr. took to standing stage right with a big grin on his face and a stick of gum in his mouth. Playing it ridiculously cool, he let the rest of the band do all the hard work as he effortlessly threw lead sections and solos around with the ease with which I tie my shoelaces (on a good day).
Frontman Starr did a good job, though I found his vocals sometimes vanished if he wasn’t belting them out. For instance, on “Born to Raise Hell”, I could barely hear him during the first verse. It wasn’t until the chorus came in that I could make him out at all. Incidentally, why didn’t they get Crane out for this one? Or for that matter fly Ice-T in? They’d buddied with Motörhead to cover the song for Airheads back in the day, after all.
He did know how to work the crowd, though. During “Get On Your Knees”, the crowd was divided into a middle-finger-raising shout-off (which we won, don’t listen to a word our Music Editor and his “stage right” team may tell you), and his pro-sheep-shagging comments went down well. I do feel it took him a little time to get warmed up, but that could have been down to the sound issues.
Phil Campbell left the stage as he entered it. Oozing confidence, calmness and with that grin firmly in place. Legend. And one with a bunch of kids he can be proud of.
Ugly Kid Joe released their seminal America’s Least Wanted 25 whole years ago which makes me feel old. Older still when you you see that Whitfield Crane is in far better shape than me, despite being five years older. The git.
Set-wise we got almost the entire of America’s Least Wanted including the obvious tracks which were also on As Ugly As They Wanna Be. Stairway To Hell and Menace to Sobriety both got a decent look-in, but this was the debut album’s night and rightly so. The song choices were perfect, but I did feel that Crane’s vocals got lost in the mix a little – a shame as they’d been spot on during the opening Yellowcake set.
Slight sound issues aside, this was a superb show. Twenty tracks, ninety minutes, audience interaction from moments into the first track and a good time had by all. The group was made up of what most would reckon the “classic” lineup, and all got a chance to shine – Cordell Crockett more literally than others, but how he could perform a whole set in a raincoat is anyone’s guess.
While drummer Shannon Larkin – never content with hitting a drum if he could batter the living hell out of it instead – went from clothed to topless to only wearing underpants by the tail end of the gig, both guitarists were put in the limelight at various points. Eichstadt took lead vocals, as per the album, for the wonderful “Mr Recordman” which built up beautifully with the whole band joining in at the end.
For Fortman, Crane promised us something “just for your town” and going by the setlist from Manchester the night before, this was actually the case as it doesn’t look like they got “Cloudy Skies” and we did. Again, the focus was on the guitarist as he more or less duetted with Crane on vocals before the song ended on a wonderful high.
The crowd response was great, including from a young girl (Holly, I believe her name was) who looked about eight years old and who had been brought by her mum and dad. I hope she enjoyed the show as much as her parent seemed to! We even had a couple of crowdsurfers… literally a couple. One lady and a chap who weighed about half as much again as she did and who wasn’t quite as easy to get over the barrier. Both were dealt with well by the crew, and both received a high five or handshake from Crane as they were escorted to the side. In a nice gesture, the final track (“Everything About You” – what else?) was dedicated to a couple at the front who’d borne the brunt of the surfers’ battering.
Overall, another great night’s entertainment from bands old and new. Oh, and Phil Campbell’s mob will be back on the road in November. I believe that’s being announced very shortly!
Photos by Coops Gig Photography