Ugly Kid Joe + Phil Campbell & The Bastard Sons + Yellowcake
@ O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire, London
April 20, 2018
Review by Steven Allen
Photography by Michelle Murphy (Mootography)
Celebrating the 25th anniversary of their seminal album “Americas Least Wanted” Ugly Kid Joe and friends roll into a hot and sunny London on a Friday night looking for a party and boy did they get one. With a supporting cast of legends and new projects this promised to a full on celebration from the get go and the London crowd were more than willing to get into the spirit of the night packing out pubs and bars in the surrounding area long before doors opened.
Kicking off proceedings tonight are “Yellow Cake“.
Formed by UKJ frontman Whitfield Crane and Jeff Curan, their music sounds like a bluesy blend of Black Sabbath and Kyuss.
They play a short sharp set of songs some of which are featured on their E.P (written and recorded in 4 days on the island of ST. Kilda).
The lower tempo of these songs compared to UKJ is a great ice breaker for Londoners not used to such heat so early in the year.
And as the cold beers flow the crowd are starting to dig what the band is doing with tracks like “Plastic Flows” and “The Stranger” going down well with the filled out room.
The band leave on a high, and their London debut has definitely earned them some fans tonight. 3.5/5
As the house lights come up, the room begins to fill up rapidly, and these later arrivals seem to be mostly wearing Motorhead t-shirts. No prizes for guessing if they are excitied at the prospect of who is up next.
Featuring Phil Campbell alongside his three sons Todd (guitar), Dane (drums), Tyla (bass) and complemented by vocalist Neil Starr, this is “Phil Campbell and the Bastard Sons“.
The band are on the road doing some early promotion of their new album “The Age Of Absurdity” ahead of a full UK tour in November. Playing a set that primarily features their own songs with only a couple of covers sprinkled in it’s clear that the band want to be taken seriously in their own right and are trying to step out of the VERY large shadow that comes from Phils former band.
No mean feat, but I honestly hope they manage it. The songs are tight, heavy and bluesy and nothing at all what people might expect from a Motorhead guitarist.
It’s great to see Phil expressing himself and exploring other avenues and sounds whilst staying true to his metal roots. And of course on stage he is every bit as cool as you want him to be. He has the confidence and swagger of a seasoned professional but doesn’t have an aura that outshines the other players in the band. It’s clear that the apple doesn’t fall far from the musical tree.
Behind the kit Dane is as tight as his snare skin and forms a great rythmic partnership with his brother Tyla on Bass and I honestly believe that guitarist Todd could probably teach his oldman a few things too. He is effortless around the fret board and shreds his way through some monster solos.
However as good as their own songs are, the energy levels really get a lift during the two Motorhead covers that they play tonight. first up is “Born To Raise Hell” featuring a guest appearance from Whitfield Crane (who used to regularly join Lemmy and Co onstage for this one) and no night with Phil Campbell would be complete with out a blasting rendition of “Ace of Spades“.
As the last few notes of their set fade out and the band take their leave there are more than a few exchanged glances between the crowd as if to say “Yeah, these guys might just be a good band without the Motorhead stuff” 4/5
Born To Raise Hell
Get On Your Knees
Ace Of Spades
Although not quite sold out, the room seems full to capacity as the house lights go down for the last time tonight as Ugly Kid Joe take to the stage and roll out their now iconic “Intro” and as Whitfield finally swaggers on to the stage the celebration is underway immediately as the band launch in to the anti suburban anthem “Neighbour” and for the next 90 minutes the hits keep rolling.
In a set spanning their entire career there is no let up in the tempo and energy with songs like “C.U.S.T.“, “Devils Paradise” and “V.I.P” all getting the floor moving Whitfield’s trademark blonde locks might be gone, but his enthusiasm on stage hasn’t as he leads the crowd in sessions of over exagerated arm waving and singing.
He bounds around the stage with a vibrance that most frontmen half his age wish they had and his interaction with the crowd is as on point as ever. But it’s not just Whitfield, guitarists Dave Fortman and Klaus Eichstadt along with bassist Cordell Crockett tear around the stage like three Tazmanian Devils in a Warner Bros cartoon.
There is clearly something special in the air tonight. All of the songs are sounding just as fresh now as they did when they were released and played with that same level of passion and that energy is matched by the crowd who mosh and bounce along from start to finish with the only let up being the mass kareoke session that is “Cat’s In The Cradle” and the chilled out “Mr Recordman“.
What is overridingly clear from tonight is just how much this band love playing and as Whitfield admits himself, they never imagined that they’d still be here 25 years later still playing these songs.
As the set rolls on the room gets hotter and hotter with each song. So the welcome relief that comes when the band slide in to “Busy Bee” is almost tangiable. It gives thirsty fans the opportunity to be heard at the bar as they order more beers to cool themselves off and security are kept busy down the front too, dishing out water to the hardcore fans that have been hugging the rail all night.
The relief is short lived though as UKJ slowly turn up the tempo one more time as they steamroll towards the end of their set.
They end the main body of their set with “Goddamn Devil” (a sexy beast of a rock song as any fan knows) before taking a very short break themselves only to return moments later for an encore that tears the roof off of the venue.
As the dust settles and the crowd belt out the last few word of the iconic “Everything About You” it’s obvious to everyone here tonight that Ugly Kid Joe and London have thrown “Americas Least Wanted” one hell of a birthday party 5/5
Jesus Rode A Harley
No One Survives
So Damn Cool
Cat’s In The Cradle
Funky Fresh Country Club
Everything About You