Gig Review: Bloodywood / Armada of Secrets / Derange – Islington O2 Academy2, London (27th July 2019)

It’s not often I’ll travel to London for a gig… and in fairness I didn’t for this one. I was already planning on a couple of days in London on the way to Wacken when our Photo Editor, Katie, told me about this band called Bloodywood that were playing while I was in town. I duly checked them out on YouTube and, like many other people, was utterly blown away by what I saw and heard.

Derange (c) Katie Frost
Derange (c) Katie Frost

So I found myself upstairs in the “cosy” Islington Academy 2, awaiting local openers Derange to get things going. They play, we were told, “sass rock” which is rock. With added sass. In case you couldn’t figure that out. Lead singer Cat did her best with the rapidly-filling venue and did get some people to cheer and sing back to the band during their 30 minute set.

I’m not sure what sass rock is meant to be, but it came across a bit post-metally with a little more bass twang. The band members were all very accomplished, but aside from Cat (who only had a microphone to worry about) I feel they were a little restrained by the confines of the dinky stage.

They got a decent cheer at the end. Not my kind of thing, but I feel they left the stage with more fans than they had to start with.

Armada of Secrets (c) Katie Frost
Armada of Secrets (c) Katie Frost

Next up were Armada of Secrets who were instantly a little different by being a three-piece with no guitar. Instead we had a singer, a drummer and a bassist… and it worked. My only real quibble was that the vocals were a little low, which is a shame as Caroline has an incredible voice, one I’m sure has far more power than we were allowed to bear witness to.

If I was to put a badge on them, I’d go for “rock n’ soul”. A fun band to watch despite, again, the music not quite being to my taste. I’m happy to be in the minority, though. They’d definitely brought some fans with them!

Bloodywood (c) Katie Frost
Bloodywood (c) Katie Frost

The one we’d all been waiting for, though, were six geezers from New Delhi mashing up rap, metal and Indian folk tones into the wonderful, rhythmic noise that we expect from Bloodywood. They walked on stage to a rapturous welcome, and during their set they ensured that not only were they all introduced but that credit was given to their sound tech, manager and merch staff. Nice guys!

Musically, they were superb. This was one of those “I was there” moments, their first visit to London at the end of their first tour outside of India, as they head for the stages at Wacken. You could tell by looking at them (and chatting to them very briefly earlier in the day) that they are on cloud nine, and probably still wondering how they got there so quickly.

They belted through an hour-long set, some songs featuring one singer, some including new member Raoul with rap vocal stylings. Between-song chatter was superb also, full of charisma and pulling the audience together. This is a band that wants to celebrate diversity and togetherness, and to stick the middle finger up to the likes of hatred and depression. And on top of that, they play bloody awesome music!

Bloodywood (c) Katie Frost
Bloodywood (c) Katie Frost

If there was a downside to the set it was the aforementioned Katie having conniptions trying to get decent photos when the venue only supplied two dim backlights and two weak spots. At one point, the band asked their sound guy to turn on all the lights… but he didn’t know how to on the venue’s kit. Full marks to Armada’s bassist who wandered to the lighting desk, stared at it for a couple of seconds, shrugged and shoved all the sliders to eleven. Crude, but effective (and blinding) until he fiddled with it and made things a little more bearable for the band to get a crowd photo at the end. Truly rock and roll!

It’s been a long time since I saw a crowd at a small show go so completely and utterly mental as I witnessed tonight in London. I have heard similar reports from other gigs and it’s no surprise. Bloodywood have what it takes, and to top it off they’re nice guys who deserve what they’re getting right now.

They did say that they’re already ready to head home, turn around and come back again. All I can say is they’ll need bigger venues… And a Scottish date or two!

Photos by Katie Frost Photography

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July 22, 2020 8:52 PM

[…] couple of years put paid to that crap. Dates across the UK and Europe, 15 out of 20 sold out shows (like the London one) and a festival run including a highlight performance at Wacken showed that Bloodywood are capable […]