Phil Campbell & the Bastard Sons + Leader of Down + Dead Mans Whiskey
@ The Islington Academy, UK
18th May 2022
Review and pictures by Graham Hilling
This evening sees Phil Campbell and the Bastard sons playing a covers set of Motörhead songs and judging by the number of Motörhead T-shirts present in the pubs around Islington as I make my way to the Academy, it looks like tonight will be quite a busy gig. It’s a bit of a shame though that many folks choose to stay in the pub until the headliner and they do indeed miss some good music (appreciate venue drinks are a LOT more expensive!)
Missing some good music is definitely true this evening though. First up are Dead Mans Whiskey who play pretty traditional hard rock but they play it well and have a certain spirit about them.
There is nothing revolutionary about the music, it’s just good old straight forward classic hard rock, it sounds classy and powerful this evening and just the sort of thing to get the evening going.
The vocals of Nico Rogers are strong and the solos of Billy Kons light up the room (looking like a London version of Slash without the hat!) The band are tight and the sound in the Academy this evening is pretty spot on from the getgo.
“Hoe Street” refers to the street in Walthamstow and “Make You Proud” is introduced as being ‘for my mum’.
They finish the short set with “Racing Bullet” which has everyone joining in with the catchline. Impressive start to the gig and great to see a band I’d never heard of making a very positive impression.
The second support this evening comes from Leader of Down. This is a band with an impressive pedigree and a long history with Motörhead, having been formed by Würzel & Tim Atkinson in 2008 and guest appearances from the likes of Lemmy, fast Eddie and Phil Campbell over a number of years. There have also been a host of other noted musicians involved with the band.
The band are as tight as you like and the sound is driven along by a fantastic rhythm section composed of Tim Atkinson on bass and Daniel Akaoui on drums, Akaoui, especially, puts in a stellar performance.
The vocals of Matt Baker have just enough grit in them without being over the top and he struts around the stage like he owns it.
The standout track from the set for me is “Paradise Turned into Dust” which is a pure slice of rock with a hook that just stays in your head.
We also get “Master of the Universe” for a nod to the Hawkwind/Motörhead connection and this gets the whole room singing along.
Dennis Stratton (ex Iron Maiden) joins them on stage towards the end of the set and trades solos with Alex Ward. Stratton can still pull out some pretty impressive widdling and has clearly not lost his touch. So, a superb performance that sets the bar suitably high.
To top the evening off, we have Phil Campbell and the Bastard Sons (play Motörhead). There’s no doubt that the “play Motörhead” part will definitely have brought out the old school crowd, although the band are a pretty solid force to contend with in their own right. Tonight, though, it is, indeed, all about Motörhead.
With a setlist chokked full of Motörhead classics there isn’t much to complain about and the audience (which has now swelled to fill the main room) seem to know every one of the lyrics.
The set starts with a stunning piece of solo guitar from Phil Campbell, beautifully played and quite a juxtaposition from the most of the set if I’m being honest, where the Motörhead songs leave little room for subtlety.
The solo leads into “Iron Fist” and then we’re off on a rollercoaster ride of Motörhead’s greatest tunes. Honestly, the setlist reads like a greatest hits album tracklist. “Damage Case” hits all of the right notes followed by “Rock Out”. Phil and Todd Campbell take it in turns to solo and there is a fantastic energy both on the stage and in the crowd. This really does feel like a load of mates out to have a great night.
“Stay Clean” has everyone in the hall singing along, as does “Born to Raise Hell” – these songs were written to be sung along too with the crowd dutifully obliging! “R.A.M.O.N.E.S.” picks up the pace then we have the classic that is “(We Are) The Road Crew” with riffs heavier than an elephant and great dollops of wah wah on the solos.
The whole band are on point and never put a foot wrong, Joel Peters on vocals absolutely commands the stage and is a massive addition to the band. The sound in this small, sweaty club in Islington is also spot on and is the perfect location for this type of gig.
The inevitable “Ace of Spades” follows, and the set finishes with “Silver Machine”. Clearly there are some songs that still need to be played and the crowd knows it too! After a brief respite, the band are back on the stage playing “Bomber”. Another absolute classic in a set of classics! “Going to Brazil” sets a bluesy tone and then the evening seemingly finishes with my favourite Motörhead song, “Killed by Death”.
There’s just a brief pause for the band to leave the stage and quickly return for what really is the last song of the evening – “Overkill”. Leaving the venue I cannot help but think what a cracking gig this has been and what a fantastic tribute to everything that Motörhead was and continues to be for so many of the audience tonight.
This was a good night.
Born to Raise Hell
Nothing Up My Sleeve
Just ‘Cos You Got the Power
(We Are) The Road Crew
Ace of Spades
Going to Brazil
Killed by Death