Sunday 9 June 2013

The Fallen Leaves + The Phobics at The 12 Bar Club June 05th

The Fallen Leaves - Photo by Steve Worrall
So, it's the first Wednesday of the month, a date that is block booked in the calendar as it's The Fallen Leaves residency and their "Minimum R 'n' B" Club night at the 12 Bar Club. It's becoming a real highlight of my live music schedule, even more so as The Fallen Leaves always pick a good selection of three or four other bands to play on the night, and this time round, the bill included The Phobics, who I'd been looking forward to seeing for some time. I had actually seen a couple of the band members play an acoustic set at one of Gaye Advert's Art Exhibitions before, but this was the full line-up, so I was particularly keen to catch their show tonight. The band kicked off with "Punk Rock Show", the opening track from their superb album "Deptford Calling", and they weren't wrong, as they treated us to a masterclass in raucous yet tuneful old school Punk Rock. 

The Phobics (L/R) Jeff, Shaun, Moyni and Tom - Photo by Steve Worrall
"Won't Let Go" thunders along, reminding me of the great Canadian Hardcore band D.O.A. It's this Trans-Atlantic Punk culture-hopping that gives The Phobics an edge over a lot of contemporary Punk bands. One minute, with the excellent "Split Personality", they are taking us on a trip to the downtown New York of Max's Kansas City and CBGB's, and then on the supremely catchy "One Girl" the Ramones suddenly enter the room and in the corner, the Dead Boys are hanging out with Richard Hell. We are then transported back to the tough streets of South London with "Boy Band" which is bovver-boot rock at it's best. Drummer Charlie keeps things thundering along at some pace, with his rhythm section colleague Moyni on bass, centre stage, a picture of concentration. 

Tom and Charlie of The Phobics - Photo by Steve Worrall
They both lay down a solid foundation for the impressive lead guitarist Shaun to play some cool riffs and Johnny Thunders style breaks. With vocalist Tom Crossley, a charismatic but statically cool front man hanging on his mic stand, it's left to rhythm guitarist Jeff to provide the visual assault, with assault being the operative word. The stage of the 12 Bar is small enough, and it's certainly too small to contain Jeff who spends a good part of the set playing guitar amongst the crowd, sitting on the stage or leaping about, he adds an edge of aggression to the band and his enthusiasm is certainly infectious. Great to finally get to see The Phobics and I recommend getting hold of a copy of "Deptford Calling" and seeing them live, just try not to leave it as long as I did...

The Fallen Leaves - Photo by Steve Worrall
There's been a real buzz of positivity around The Fallen Leaves recently, what with their sessions with Marc Riley on BBC 6 Music and on Resonance FM and a glowing review in the Sunday Times by comedian Stewart Lee for their latest album "If Only We'd Known". They just keep on getting better gig by gig, and more people seem to be turning up to the 12 Bar each time they play. Rob Symmons seems to be intent on wreaking as much damage to his guitar as possible without actually smashing it on the stage. Banging it and shaking it to get optimum power, he twists the strings to breaking point, spilling out classic Garage Rock riffs to songs such as "Passing By" and "Trouble".

The Fallen Leaves - Photo by Steve Worrall
Drummer Bill Lewington had a particularly good night, his drumming really stood out and he didn't even shatter a drum-stick over me this time! Bassist Matthew Karas, in his crushed velvet smoking jacket and Cheshire cat grin, is a calming presence as it all goes off either side of him. Vocalist Rob Green's wonderfully English eccentric performance with his tweed, pocket watch and tea ceremony is a delight every time and you think that this is the sort of band that we should be able to watch on "Later with Jools Holland" - they deserve a much wider audience. The Fallen Leaves will play at our next Retro Man Blog night which will be the official launch party for Thee Spivs new album "The Crowd and The Sounds" at The Half Moon Putney on June 29th. We are also pleased to welcome special guests The Past Tense to the party so please come along, it promises to be a great night!

For more photos head over and "Like" the Retro Man Blog Facebook page for access to the Photo Album. Here's a video of The Fallen Leaves on the night with "Against The Grain".

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