Rose Tattoo @ O2 Islington Academy, London

Rose Tattoo Islington Academy
Spread the metal:

Rose Tattoo + Girlschool

O2 Islington Academy, London
13th September 2018

Live review and pictures by:
Ryan Whitwell / Shotison Media

A sold-out gig to finish off a week of dates around the UK, Rose Tattoo came to Islington, London with Girlschool to give a lesson in some old school hard rock and heavy metal.Rose Tattoo Islington Academy
I haven’t seen Rose Tattoo since Download Festival in 2008(?), and I’ve never seen Girlschool live before, so I was looking forward to this gig.

Girlschool Islington Academy

Over the years the line-up has shifted around, but much of Girlschool’s current lineup were in the band back when they formed in 1978. Kim McAuliffe, Enid Williams, Denise Dufort are all original members and Jackie Chambers who joined the band in 2000.

Girlschool Islington Academy
The Islington Academy was packed out as Girlschool walked on stage with Jackie Chambers leading the pack, leaning out to the crowd to the sound of air sirens before cracking on with ‘Demolition’ (from their 1980 debut album). It soon became clear that there were a lot of fans in for them tonight.

Girlschool Islington Academy
Little reminders as to the history of the band; they’ve worked with some huge names, mentioning Dio and Iommi before playing ‘I Spy’ (who collaborated with Girlschool on the original recording). There was, of course, a big cheer at the mention of Lemmy and Philthy Phil of Motorhead before Girlschool blasted out ‘Take it Like a Band’ midway through the set.

Girlschool Islington Academy
The set was a good one, never letting up for the 45-minute duration. Even newer tracks like “Revolution” didn’t stick out like a sore thumb among older tracks in the back catalogue. Always good to hear bands sticking to their guns and keeping the intensity up throughout a career.

A touch of variety as Kim McAuliffe and Enid Williams swapped singing roles throughout the set, but musically the set was straightforward, in your face, old school heavy metal.

Girlschool Islington Academy

Full of fan favourites, their set seemed to act as a chronicle of the band’s extensive history. Ending with hits ‘Race with the Devil’ and ‘Emergency’ really seemed to get everyone geared up and ready for Rose Tattoo.

Girlschool Islington AcademyGirlschool Islington Academy

Girlschool Setlist:

C’mon Let’s Go
I Spy
Take it Like a Band
Future Flash
Watch Your Step
Kick it Down
Yeah Right
Race With The Devil

Rose Tattoo Islington Academy Rose Tattoo Islington Academy

Rose Tattoo’s line-up may be very different than it once was, but that’s expected after 40+ years since the first release. They made their intentions clear opening with “One of the Boys”, but the set felt varied as it went on wit some harder rock numbers and a few downbeat blues tracks.

The heavy blues tone of tracks like “The Butcher and Fast Eddy” sounded great, especially as it was juxtaposed with the popular and crowd chanting number, “Rock and Roll Outlaw”.

Rose Tattoo Islington Academy
I especially enjoyed the touches of slide guitar here and there, it just seems to do a great job of elevating the tracks to cover a few genres and create a more dynamic overall sound.Rose Tattoo Islington Academy

Props to the sound guy, every track sounding well balanced with each instrument standing out exactly when it needed to. There’s a fair bit of nuance in a lot of the tracks, so it was nice to hear those little flourishes rather than have the band try to simply sound “loud”.

Rose Tattoo Islington Academy

The band were excellent, and I was impressed that frontman, Angry Anderson, was still nailing every vocal even at the age of 71 (and after a bottle of ginger wine!)Rose Tattoo Islington Academy

The crowd were on form too. Plenty of nodding with some respite between songs as Angry Anderson talked a bit, usually about a meaning behind a song and its lyrics, which was sometimes enlightening as some of the tracks had a bit more depth than it seems.

Rose Tattoo Islington Academy

The Aussie rock is as I expected; no-nonsense, good rhythms and a few sing-alongs. The fans were loving it though. Rose Tattoo tracks have a great quality that still sounds good live, and the Academy Islington seemed to be just the right size to contain that punchy sound and hold enough fans to get a bit of an atmosphere.Rose Tattoo Islington Academy

‘Bad Boy For Love’ featured a sweet extended guitar section with the two six-string strummers face off a bit with some alternating solos and harmonies. The tone was great, not much in the way of effects that I could notice, just a bit overdrive to add a bit of warmth.

Rose Tattoo Islington Academy

There was a rather nice moment before “Remedy” as Angry Anderson talked about how “We’re all here because we love it, and don’t let anyone take that away from you. Also, don’t drink water, fish fuck in it!” There was also a hint that Rose Tattoo would be playing more shows next year, so keep an eye out for that.

Rose Tattoo Islington Academy Rose Tattoo Islington Academy

Sneaking past curfew to play fan favourite “Nice Boys Don’t Play Rock and Roll”, because you didn’t expect this gang of hell-raising Aussies to stick to the rules, did you?Rose Tattoo Islington AcademyRose Tattoo Setlist:

One of the Boys
Juice on the Loose
Man About Town
Assault & Battery
Rock ‘n’ Roll Outlaw
The Butcher and Fast Eddy
Once in a Lifetime
Rock ‘n’ Roll Is King
We Can’t Be Beaten / Bad Boy for Love
Scarred for Life
Astra Wally
Nice Boys