Camden Town is a rock and roll Disneyland. A place where the very essence of music has become entrenched through the indelible influence of the likes of Amy Winehouse, The Libertines and Madness. Its reputation as central London’s rough diamond has brought swathes of middle class mothers who fawn over the drug dealers that loiter next to the canal as a picture postcard testament to the areas ‘authenticity’. But whilst Camden Town may have lost some of its youthful brashness, the area has never ceased to play host to a wide range of bands and every night the cream of contemporary music can be found playing somewhere between Mornington Crescent and Kentish Town stations. Last Thursday was no exception with the London leg of Hobgoblin’s unsung heroes tour.
The premise of the Unsung Heroes tour is a truly worthy one. It’s all about giving recognition to the usually invisible team that make live music possible; the soundmen, technicians, roadies, drivers and managers. On Thursday night, at Dingwalls, a venue that needs no introduction, Glass Peaks and Island took to the stage to champion this cause.
I have been to gigs in Camden where deserving bands have played to little more than a handful and, conversely, to gigs where some intrepid promoter has managed to cajole a roomful Spanish exchange students into watching a group that weren’t quite ready to leave the garage, but the venue began to fill well before Glass Peaks started, and by the time they hit the first note, the place was heaving.
Rarely can it be said of a stage that has hosted the Foo Fighters and The Strokes that it was overpowered, but in the case of Glass Peaks, this is pure fact. Their sound was purely anthemic, and, in the spirit of the event, the sound technician deserves a well earned round of applause. The addition of a saxophonist in the band added an unconventional yet wholly complementary layer that defies comparison and helped to create an immersive soundscape. For me, their standout song was ‘Home’, the Battles/Foals-esque guitar hook is an earworm that is sure to be a hit for the band.
It’s only fitting to begin talking about Island by first congratulating their unsung heroes, Ben and Mike. I have to admit I’d been sleeping on Islands and didn’t really have much of an idea of what to expect. What struck me first was Rollo Doherty’s voice, it has the gritty and heartfelt distinctiveness that made the first wave of indie bands so great. Their performance was polished to the point of near perfection whilst retaining a presence on stage that made you appreciate you were watching them live and not merely listening at home. With a solid repertoire of well written songs, and gems such as ‘Stargazer’ and ‘Waves’, I’m sure these boys will be gracing playlists up and down the country. It’s a genuine pleasure to discover great British bands like Island that deliver a little flush of national pride that seems rare in these post-brexit days. If you haven’t heard of these guys most definitely check out their soundcloud and catch them at a show somewhere near you.
Hobgoblin, despite a tacit association with rock music, are just beginning to host gigs and live music, and, if their future events are anything like their Unsung Heroes tour, they will no doubt be firm favourites in the live music scene.