Live Review: Drenge, Black Heart, Camden (05/09/13)


On the second of three consecutive London dates, Sheffield-based blues duo, Drenge, play in a packed-out North London pub.

Eoin and Rory Loveless, the Peak District brothers behind Drenge, were propelled into the national spotlight after former MP Tom Watson mentioned the band in his recent resignation letter. Unsurprisingly, there are no cabinet members in the audience tonight, and it’s a good job too, as a Foreign Minister moshing to raw, punky blues is almost a vomit-inducing thought.

Back in April, in Nottingham’s Chameleon, Drenge played second fiddle to Temples, a fellow buzz band. Sadly, this notion of being second fiddle seemed to embed itself in the brothers’ heads, and the performance was flat and lifeless. Since then, they’ve gone from strength to strength, becoming the raucous live band that their music merits. After a string of festival dates, including one of the sets of the weekend at Beacons, they arrived in the capital for three dates before supporting Arctic Monkeys this coming Monday at the iTunes Festival.

Tonight, it looks as if Drenge really enjoy themselves. From the start, there are grins, nods and eye rolls exchanged between the brothers; the kind of chemistry that only brothers could create. An under-rehearsed new song is ended prematurely and the odd guitar lick is missed here and there. Nobody cares about these slight errors, however. It is loud fun that people have come to see, and it is loud fun that people get.

‘I Want To Break You In Half’ is terrifying; rock n roll at its absolute peak. ‘Dogmeat’ sounds like a record that The Clash would’ve been proud of, while ‘Bloodsports’ deservedly initiates the first mosh of the night. ‘Backwaters’ contains the lyrical highlights of the evening, seemingly about growing up in the middle of nowhere. However, it is ‘Let’s Pretend’ that is once again the set’s stand-out moment, with its heavy hook and Rory’s brutal drumming. The band play one more and leave the stage just as sweat levels begin to border on the unbearable. A great gig from what I can now call, a great band.

Being a twosome, Drenge are often compared to the likes of The White Stripes and The Black Keys. At first, I was all for these comparisons, but now I feel compelled to inform you that these comparisons are both lazy and completely untrue. Yes, there’s a certain blues-y feel to the brothers’ music – name me a rock n roll band that hasn’t descended from the blues – but their influences lie firmly in classic punk and 90s grunge. It is for this reason that Drenge will outlive both these lazy comparisons and will grow into something completely of their own.

Alex Neely

…Alex is listening to Babyshambles – Sequel To The Prequel


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