London: Underworld – 19 March 2017
As they innocently walked on stage, Emperors Of The Wasteland surprised the crowd with an explosive "Let's go" before they unleashed a wall of sound. They have also brought some fans and there was plenty of head-banging at the front from the off. This was fast-paced Hard Rock and their guitarist was seriously talented, which certainly helped. At times, they sounded a bit Funky and (recent) Lynch Mob-esque whilst there was also a touch of Nu Metal in the mix too. They received a great reaction and made an effort with their moves on stage which kept up the interest. All in all, not bad for a local opener.
Knock Out Kaine are a band that have been around a while with a number of line-up changes. This was clearly a night of talented guitarists and we saw fast and fluid guitar work and even a bit of finger tapping. There made good use of the backing vocals to accentuate the undeniably good voice of vocalist Dean Foxx. They had a number of good songs which went over well even on a first listen. Some of the music was Southern Blues-influenced but it was mainly "Cock Rock" in the vain of Motley Crüe. The bass was like a rumbling earthquake, at least from where I happened to be standing and there were a couple of heavier songs in the mix too. From this showing, it was safe to say they were an entertaining main opener.
However, the crowd were obviously waiting for King Jizzy Pearl who came on stage parading his beer can crucifix in mock solemnitude. The place was packed and devoted, and the crowd went wild and sang from the first song. The new backing band sounded truly excellent, especially the guitar of Steve Pearce, and Pearl had lost nothing of his charisma or his distinctive vocal tone. He reminded me of Jim Morrison in self-conscious cool and swagger, just as unpredictable with a dangerous air that he might just do anything. With his Morrison-like long curls back, he really doesn't look any older than the first days of the band and gave off self-confidence to die for on stage. At one point, he stole my pen and scribbled on my notes, that is the sort of thing that went on this evening. He was, at times, both mesmerizing and terrifying, pacing like a jaguar, however with a reaction (a killing) more than any band could hope for, he could be satisfied and tamer tonight (but you never knew for sure, therein lies the fascination and edge).
"I fuckin' love you guys" he shouted in the first break, he held up his hands in mock prayer worship and then reminded the crowd it was the 25th anniversary of 'Blackout In The Red Room'. It was notable that he chose to play London on his birthday and so would anyone if they received a reception like this evening. The "yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeahs" of 'Tumbleweed' were roof lifting and the crowd knew the words of even the more obscure songs. This was the religious devotion missing from the Hollywood sign incident all in a little nuclear blast. In 'Fuel To Run' Pearl actually stopped singing and there was no loss of volume as the crowd picked up the baton.
He was fearless with his forays into the face of the front row of the crowd as he demanded eye contact and high fives. This was old-school stage magic that reminded everyone of how things used to be before Gene Simmons said "Rock was dead" and tonight proved that it's not. The band played a really heavy set which included a number of songs like 'Happy Hour' and 'Times Up' which the original line-up did not play back in the day. Yet it was the well-known numbers like 'Mary Jane', 'Don't Fuck With Me' and 'Blackout' itself where the crowd really burst out of the box. Jizzy Pearl was emperor of all he surveyed for this gig and the new band did the old songs more than justice. You can't buy what happened on stage this evening – #Everythingthemusicindustryisntandwhatrocknrollisabout.
Words and photo: Dawn Osborne