Muso's Guide: Radio Birdman at the Dirty Water Club
It’s not often that you get the chance to see rock and roll legends playing a venue as small as the Tufnell Park Dome. As such, the announcement that the London leg of the 2015 Radio Birdman tour would be stopping here wasn’t something I was going to miss despite the pre-ordained result of a Wednesday morning hangover and a warm Tuesday night found me sitting on the tube clutching a cold beer on the way to north London. For once my timekeeping is on point enough to catch the opener, a high octane blast of punk rock 'n' roll from the brilliantly named Michael Jackson. A four piece with a sound easily big enough to fill the room (the crowd was yet to fill out that much), their no frills garage sound is clearly underpinned by a strong musical ability.
Johnny Throttle are another 2000s era band bringing a revival sound to the fore, but while Michael Jackson were clearly weaned on a diet of The Stooges these guys have looked closer to home for inspiration – a set of '70s style punk rock contains both hits and misses, but with some undeniably catchy hooks. I can’t quite tell if the singer’s Mick Jagger meets Bez approach is tongue in cheek, but I’ve smoked too much to be worried by this too much and, with hindsight, can only assume that it is.
With the headliners soon to hit the stage, the room is busier but by no means filled up – a sign of how underrated the Australian proto-punks have always been. Looking at the crowd confirms that I’m one of the younger people in the room, while an attempted crew round up before the gig had been met with blank looks and questions of ‘Who?’ It clearly doesn’t affect the band themselves who, despite the questions surrounding the non-inclusion of original guitarist Chris Masuak, launch into their set with supreme confidence. They power through a good chunk of both Radios Appear and Living Eyes in a lengthy show which ably showcases their surf/garage/rock 'n' roll sound. Songs like ‘Murder City Nights’ and ‘Do The Pop’ are as vital sounding as they must have been in 1977, while ‘Breaks My Heart’ and ‘Hand Of Law’ highlight how well the current line up works together. ‘Man With Golden Helmet’, a Doors-influenced slice of psychedelia which I have always had a tendency to skip when wanting some hype to go skateboarding or for a night out, sounds incredible in a live environment with a fuzz of South London chronic still intruding at the edges of my consciousness. It shows the band’s range and songwriting maturity, a natural talent which made even the fastest race to the finish stand out. Talking of which, the classic ‘New Race’ sounds just as good as it ever has. This was a killer show, those who don’t know should go educate themselves on the band and hope they get the chance to catch them again!