The Urban Voodoo Machine/Bermondsey Joyriders - London, Relentless Garage - 10th February 2012 Print E-mail
Written by Johnny H   
Thursday, 23 February 2012 04:45

Never let it be said that I do not know how to treat a lady.  With Valentine's Day looming and me being the incurable romantic that I am, what do I do to celebrate the occasion? I book Mrs H and me into a North London hotel to go and see this Vive Le Rock/Gypsy Hotel sponsored night of decadent delights. You can stick your greetings cards, chocolates and flowers because there's only one way to a real woman's heart and that's through low down 'n' dirty rock 'n' roll music...yeah right.




So with Vive Le Valentine also being a club night, what that means is for once we actually end up in the bizarre scenario of being the clubbers going into the venue after the evenings gig, woah that is a surreal experience, made even more other worldly by the fact that the arctic cold weather and a severe case of over (Jäger) bombing have left me wearing an overcoat and woolly hat a full 30 minutes after getting into the bloody venue and wondering just when my brain is likely to play catch up with the rest of my body. But wait just a minute there is a show to be experienced here and when I say "show" and "experienced" you are safe in assuming this is more than just a simple gig review.


As the lights dim and tonight's compere Lucifire takes to the stage full of smouldering charm, the crowd slowly edges forwards as the flame haired vixen tempts us to "suck it up and see", before kicking off proceedings with a double bass accompanied version of 'Fever', Lucifire is like Jessica Rabbit brought to life in front of your naked steaming eyes, a red head with some mighty fine legs make no mistake. 


The sexual tension permeating around the venue doesn't last for long though as the band I've really come to see here tonight, are soon amongst us playing their subtle as a house brick brand of rock. Cor blimey Guv'nor if it isn't the Bermondsey Joyriders kicking up a right pen and ink. 




Splitting their set into two bite sized chunks of mean slide guitar driven rock 'n' roll, the band's debut album get's a fair hammering first with tracks like 'All The Darkness', 'Who Are Ya' and their tribute to all things Johnny Thunders 'Part Of My Problem' immediately making an impression on those keen enough to dance around the edge of the stage.  But for yours truly where the Joyriders really come into their own is when they play tracks from there yet to be released second album 'Noise and Revolution'.  For this concept driven part of the show Gary Lammin and Marty "Gentleman Jim" Stacey along with new drummer Chris Musto are joined on stage by the one and only Charles Shaar Murray who steps seamlessly into the role of John Sinclair, and in the process actually brings a slightly more authentic ring to proceedings delivering the between song narrative in his Ian Dury smokey blues Laaaandaaaan drawl.


IMAG0118With the disintegration of our surroundings sound tracked through the likes of 'Society Is Rapidly Changing',  'Right Now' and '1977' the Joyriders are a sonic whirlwind delivering these tracks in the live setting, even if their rough around the edges delivery might not be to everyone's taste, my body is throwing all manner of shapes by the time we jump headlong into 'Rock Star' complete with it's fantastic "champagne, cocaine, rock 'n' roll - it's all the same" mantra just waiting to sell a million T-shirts worldwide.


Rounding off their electrifying set just as they do with both their albums, the venomous turbocharged R 'n 'B thrill ride of 'Rock 'n' Roll Demon' slowly uncurls its sting ready to leave the audience dead in their tracks when out of the wings comes a harp blowing Murray and the band seems to morph into an altogether new world, moving from Rose Tattoo territory to early 60's Rolling Stones or classic Dr Feelgood, and this ladies and gentlemen leaves those not already dancing desperately searching for a reason to still keep their feet still.  Talk about bringing the house down.  I want to see more of this stuff and soon.


With the between band changeovers being broken up by some bizarre black metal burlesque provided by Lalla Morte and yet more high camp shenanigans from our mistress of ceremonies Lucifire, a quick glance at the watch proved that things weren't exactly running to time here tonight, so at well past their original intended stage time of just a few minutes past the witching hour we finally do welcome the red and black attack, otherwise known as The Urban Voodoo Machine.


Sidling onto the stage to the theme tune from some gangster flick or other, just like the Reservoir Dogs would have strutted if it they been directed by Tod Browning instead of that other guy, the eight men and two women line up of The Urban Voodoo Machine can barely be contained by tonight's intimate surroundings as the crescendo of brass, strings and percussion gradually gets louder and the night's celebration really get underway.




My first encounter with The Urban Voodoo Machine had been in one of the outlying stages at Download a few years ago, and to say they stole the show with their outrageous mix of Harlem renaissance music played Dalston style complete with big top theatrics would actually be an understatement, that they brought a carnival to a metal festival and won, made their victory smell all so much sweeter on my memory.  Tonight though in the much more intimate surroundings of the Garage none of that pizzazz is lost in fact if anything it's intensified as the larger than life characters that make up The Urban Voodoo Machine act out their very own version of Sante Sangre right there in front of us.


Lead Voodoo man Paul-Ronney Angel can hardly contain his enthusiasm or his stage moves as 'Cheers For The Tears' sees the entire room shimmying as one before the brass driven polka of 'Not With You' finally has our hero out front taunting his front row prey with a lethal dose of his whiskey soaked voice.  I swear if you close your eyes during 'Train Wreck Blues' you can almost hear Sam Phillips shouting instructions from the sound booth, it is that authentic a sound that by the time we get to 'Love Song #666' you really would have to be a brain dead moron not to get where The Urban Voodoo Machine are coming from.  This is genuine from the heart music played by people who do this because they love doing it, and boy do they want us to know how much they love doing it.


With latest single 'Rather You Shot Me Down' bringing a solemn spaghetti western feeling to proceedings I actually didn't realise that Gary Lammin had joined the band onstage until they introduced him at the end of the tune, such is the way you get engrossed in the whole party vibe that The Urban Voodoo Machine create with their rich lyrical tapestries. I also cannot complete this review without mentioning the sublime cover version the band possess in the shape of their radical reworking of AC/DC's 'Hell's Bells', a track they originally cut for Classic Rock magazine, and a version that probably left most their readership scratching their heads, wondering if Angus had finally found that long lost soul of his. This is how all cover versions should be done check it out you will be amazed.




Finishing up the night with probably the only drum solo I've watched in the last decade that has actually made me smile during a tub thumping 'The Real Criminals', the night reaches its ultimate conclusion with 'Goodbye To Another Year' and I'm simply left shell-shocked by what has just gone on.  The Urban Voodoo Machine may not use loud guitars but they rock as hard as many bands I've seen in my lifetime and the intensity of their performance puts them up right up there with The Stooges and the MC5's of this world. 


It is at this point that I suddenly have to accept that my time spent at the Garage was going to have to come to an end and Rubber Ritchie (who incidentally wasn't a nonce from back home after all, but in fact a contortionist) along with King Salami And The Cumberland 3 would have to wait for another time for our paths to cross.  Heaven only knows how long brother Jim Jones got left at the end of the night as special guest DJ? I reckon he probably got enough time to play a few tunes off Napalm Death's 'Scum' given how things were overrunning. Ultimately though this was a night (and early morning) of real classic rock 'n' roll, delivered with guts and bravado and chock full of ace tunes to make you shake your bits all sexy like. 


So you still never heard any of these bands?  Well you know what to do boys and girls you know what to do...


Check out the selection of URBAN VOODOO MACHINE discs available at