Live Reviews

Viking Skull

London Camden Underworld

Girls can rock, but can they RAWK? Well, the sooner McQueen get some much-deserved recognition, the sooner this tired old argument can be put to bed. The Brighton quartet may have been plagued with the usual lazy Hole comparisons afforded to most all-girl bands, but McQueen’s sound is more LA than Seattle; great filthy guitar licks, rumbling bass and no shortage of exuberant punk-rock aggression.

Singer Leah Duors could teach most vocalists a thing or two about stage presence, but tonight’s crowd clearly know a good band when they see it, as the last few songs are met with raucous applause and cries of “More!” Superb stuff – watch out for this lot.

Viking Skull have often been criticised for being dumb and derivative; which, as criticisms go, is about as pointless as slating Hatebreed for being loud and aggressive. These guys aren’t trying to be Tool; they’re an unashamedly straightforward good-time rock band, united with their audience in unashamed worship of the RIFF. Take equal parts AC/DC, Sabbath and good old British pub-rock bravado, mix with plenty of booze, and you have one hell of a recipe for a good evening’s entertainment – plus a guarantee of a sore neck the morning after.

The recent departure of guitarist Frank may have slowed down frontman Roddy Stone (he’s taken on Frank’s guitar duties), but it hasn’t robbed anthems like ‘Red Hot Woman‘ and ‘Crank The Volume ‘Til The Speakers Explode‘ of any of their gloriously unpretentious, devil-hands-in-the-air appeal. And let’s face it, how many other vocalists out there would take a grinder to their guitar – showering their band and audience in sparks – all in the name of showmanship?

Rocking out is meant to be fun, people! In the midst of legions of emo bands selling us little more than morbid introspection, it’s good to have the likes of Viking Skull and McQueen around to remind us of that fact.

Alex Gosman