Thursday 5 June 2014

Uplift Spice and Of Fire and Fate at Camden Underworld - 02 June 2014

Uplift Spice

This turns out to be one of the gigs of the year. Less than twenty four hours ago I'd never heard of either band. I doubt that there are more than forty people here tonight, including those hanging around the margins of the venue. So there you go.

Camden Underworld is so low key tonight that we're not immediately sure that it is open at all. But after a small delay we eventually find our way down to the bowels of the venue.

Of Fire and Fate are an Anglo-Japanese pop metal band who used to come here as punters and are now delighted to take to this stage as an attraction in their own right.

As a jaded old bastard, I get a lot of pleasure from bands who are almost indistinguishable from the audience they are playing to. In this case it is young people playing to other kids and it is the purest form of rock fun.

Singer Mark Turner chats freely between tracks. Then, with a spirited "1,2,3,4!" the hammer falls, the bassist jumps to twice his height and the two guitarists try to outdo each other in terms of velocity and axe posturing. There's so much hair flying around on and off stage that it is a mild surprise that band and fans don't get knitted together.

In the crowd we lurch and clap. A girl breaks out a few sparklers and their flickering adds a bizarre ritualistic feel to proceedings.

Of Fire and Fate are the pure definition of guilt free metal fun. I commend them to you wholeheartedly.

Uplift Spice are on a European tour. Back home in Japan they play to vast and enthusiastic crowds. Tonight the size of the audience may be vastly reduced compared to what they are used to, but in terms of sheer joyful mania would be very hard to beat.

Singer Chiori resembles nothing so much as a tiny ball of hair and teeth, grinning and screaming while the rest of the band thrash and crunch around her. She crouches down, braces her body and then just explodes all over the stage in all directions at once. The crowd go utterly ape and I'm sure that she would have come flying over our heads if they were actually enough people here to safely catch her.

She's so full-on that she takes her own breath away, let alone ours. During the second half of the set she is gasping like a stranded goldfish. She has virtually no English, but is able to communicate through the universal language of smiling and waving her arms about.

Bassist Kenji is pretty striking himself. Not only is he loud and fast, he sports a great mass of tangled hair that completely covers his face and his instrument. He must be playing by touch.

Guitarist Yookey is equally adept, contorting himself and seeing how long he can play with his instrument whirling over his head.

More sparklers are brought out and by now the whole venue is just jumping up and down and screaming. Me included.

Not bad for a Monday. Not bad for any night.

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