Review & Photo Gallery: God Damn + Youth Man + Them Wolves + Victor + Swerve @ Hare & Hounds, Kings Heath – 19/01/2014

Five bands is a lot of bands for any bill. It’s also an indication of the celebratory nature of the event tonight, and Wolverhampton garage rock outfit God Damn do have a lot to celebrate. Playing tonight the ‘hometown’ date of their current full UK tour, they’ll be announcing the details of their record label signing later this week.

Unsurprisingly, with so many soundchecks to get out the way, doors are late opening and a trail of fans wind down the stairs and into the courtyard and the rain at the Hare & Hounds. It does mean however that when Swerve take to the stage, there’s already a room half full with people – an unusual novelty for an opening act. They play a set of psych rock underplayed with elements of grunge which should be a delicious combination but there’s something about Swerve which is just a bit…inaccessible. Perhaps it’s the self indulgent instrumentals. On their Facebook they term their music ‘classic shit’ which is probably a revealing insight into the mindset of this band. Nevertheless the room seems to enjoy them.

They’re completely overshadowed by Victor though who seem to have found the funk since their last outing. A groovier and louder bass section underpins the distorted guitars beautifully and adds an extra level to their performance. Singer Georgina Grainger is as captivating as ever and they do justify why people are talking about them which is somewhat refreshing. They leave the stage to a vocal loop and a response befitting their performance.

Them Wolves are next, delivering (despite the dodgy American accent which strays at times into awkwardness) a full throttle attack on the room. A complete storm of a set as snarling and destructive as it is alluring, they play a mix of old and newer material including the recently released The Wild Girl of Champagne and Wolf Song.

As it hurtles towards midnight, the room gets busier and penultimate act Youth Man materialise. Punk rock, grunge revival, call it what you will, what Youth Man have is a bona fide ability to really wail. It’s fast, it’s hard hitting and its composite components tie in beautifully with each other. Tonight is not the best we’ve ever seen them (the bass could do with a seeing to) but with energy like that and charisma to boot, you pretty much don’t notice.

The night ascends to its climax as God Damn ascend to the stage. It’s a performance that those who have seen them before have become accustomed to and why they return time after time to see the act play live; it’s a completely thrashing foray which manages to retain its melody and its technical ability in the process, and that’s no mean feat. The crowd’s reaction is wonderful, a circle pit filled with love. Towards the end the duo hint at something special to come but when guitarist Dave Copson joins them onstage, it’s a moment the word special doesn’t cover. Six months and over 20 hours of surgery after a serious car accident last summer, the applause which greets Dave is heartwarming and as he shoulders his guitar for one of the band’s most poignant numbers, Dangle Like Skeletons, it’s so overwhelmingly moving to see him back. As the song builds to its conclusion and guitars are smashed onstage, it’s a completely beautiful ending to what’s been an indescribably affecting occasion. And if that isn’t reason enough to celebrate, there’s nothing really is.


Photos: Andy Hughes @AndyHPhoto


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