Rock ‘n’ Roll is very much alive in Camden

Camden Rocks – various venues, London; June 1st, 2019

Sometime earlier this ear, Flight Brigade announced they were playing Camden Rocks Festival. Since it was a Saturday and didn’t have any plans this weekend, I checked it out, saw Frank Turner and New Model Army in the line up, thought “why not?” and bought a ticket. It had been a long time since I’d last seen Flight Brigade and getting to see some other bands too would be interesting. The two day festival is a bit like Iceland Airwaves with venues all over Camden, mainly introducing up and coming bands. I went for one day only and did not see all that much, but enjoyed everything. It was a great day.

I flew in Saturday morning which meant getting up insanely early. There was no chance to rest before the festival, because it started at noon and check in time was 2:30. Thus I made do with taking a nap on the plane and lots of caffeine. Left my luggage at my hostel, had some tea and got my wristband for the day ahead. I’d marked down a few bands I wanted to see, but never got around to checking on all of them, deciding to just take my chances.

VENUE: THE HAWLEY ARMS

My first stop was the Hawley Arms were I wanted to see Izzy Thomas and figured I’d check out whoever played before her. The stage was to be found at the upstairs bar that had a nice patio too. Stayed out in the sun until it was about to start and went inside. Slow Mojo gave us some fun Blues Rock. After one song people came closer and some were even moving with the Music. it liked it, they had a good groove and, as the singer put it, their dancing shoes on. For a moment I felt as if I’d landed in the middle of a Blues Brothers movie. 😉 They played well and there was some good banter going on with the audience too. I really enjoyed it. It was entertaining to watch them. What a nice start to the day it was.

Spent some time in the sun, waiting for the stage to be changed and then stood front row for Izzy Thomas. She put on a great performance, passionate and powerful. She went into it full force from the start and I was immediately impressed with her voice. Instantly liked the music as well as the topics she sang about. It’s always difficult to get all the lyrics on first listen, but I can say that it spoke to me. After the first song she introduced herself “My Name is Izzy Thomas and I write angry bitch songs”. It put a big smile on my face. You go woman! For every song she played she made a short inroduction so we learned that ‘Sell your Soul’ is about the record industry. It was a good song. She also covered Rag n Bone Man’s ‘Human’ and was a tad disappointed when nobody raised their hand as she asked who knew it. Truth be told I understood the title, but not the artist when she said it, but I immediately recognized the song as she started singing. In the end she asked us to tag her if we took pictures since this would help her doing what she loves and wants to do. Sure thing.The band was damn good too and when they ended their set with ‘Trouble’ they got much deserved cheers. I really wanted to hear  more – too bad there is never an encore at such festivals.

Setlist

Wicked Way
Mad
Be a Man
Sell your Soul
Human (Rag n Bone Man cover)
Trouble

After this I had some time for a walk and found the next venue.

VENUE: THE MONARCH

At the Monarch I sat down for a bit until it was time for The Wild Things to start. I had checked them out online beforehand, wasn’t fully convinced, but decided to give them a try anyway. Many people wanted to see them and the venue was nicely filled. When they started I thought they were OK, but ptrretty soon their live energy drew me in and I enjoyed watching and listening to them. They had a lot of fans in the room who knew the songs well and were really into it. There wasn’t much of a chance for this not being contagious. 😀 It was a fun set overall and I loudly cheered with everyone else.

Setlist

Loaded Gun
Only Attraction
I Think You Can Do Better
Skin & Bones
You’re Really Something
Devil’s
F.I.A.

Finally it was time for Flight Brigade, the band I had really come to see. While they were setting up I chatted briefly with Thomas who had waved as soon as he spotted me. It was really nice seeing them again. Mirijam was missing and they had a different drummer, but everyone else was there and busy getting ready. It had been over two years since I’d last seen them play and I was happy to finally get a chance again.

They started of with ‘Tearaway’ and pretty soon the crowd moved closer and listened. The band still sounded just as good as I remembered them and I was smiling already. I even recalled some of the lyrics and managed to sing along  at times. 🙂 They all looked happy to be on stage and in-between songs Olli bantered with the audience telling us he was seeing a lot of cool band shirt on display. A bit later he pointed to someone wearing a “dying Fetus” and declared it the best one in the house offering to swap with his plain white one. 😀

Apart from the familiar songs Flight Brigade had three new ones on the setlist one of which, ‘Stranger Things’ I’m not even sure I’d heard before. All three of them rocked, but I especially liked ‘Fury Road’. These songs made me look forward to the upcoming album even more than I already did. It was one hell of a show and the only criticism I have is that it was way too short.  They already got a bit over 30 minutes because when they asked if there was time for one last song it was already close to the end of their allotted half hour. Nothing you can do about festival sets always being shorter. It really made me want to come back for heir tour in October, but it would take a miracle to fit that in my schedule.

Afterwards I talked to Olli, Dorrie and Thomas. They were all excited about the upcoming album and tour. Neal, I learned was on vacation and hence a friend helped them out on drums. I let them know how much I’d liked it and promised to be back eventually. Hopefully in less than two years.

Setlist

Tearaway
U Kill me
Where Eagles Dare
Stranger Things
Hurricane Season
Fury Road
Tinderbox
39 Steps

Took a longer break this time, went back to my hostel to check in and rest up a bit. When I first saw the lineup I’d wanted to see New Model Army as well as Frank Turner. Unfortunately, they were performing at the same time. I’d seen Frank Turner before and loved his show, but I’d always wanted to see New Model Army, so I finally decided to give them a shot.

VENUE: THE UNNDERWORLD CAMDEN

When I arrived at The Underworld Punk Band Angelic Upstarts‘s set was in full swing. Lots of people were pogoing and having fun. It’s not my preferred style of music, but I think they were good. The crowd response was for sure and they helped pass the waiting time.

Setting up for New Model Army took a while and they started a bit late. I had a nice spot near the mixing desk with an OK view of the stage, because I did not want to be on the floor where it might get wild. It was good music, but I have to admit that it did not grab me. I don’t know if they are not for me in general or if the mood just wasn’t right that night, but I soon realized that I was not going to enjoy it, so I left after two songs.

Setlist

March in September
Angry Planet

VENUE: THE ELECTRIC BALLROOM

Luckily The Electric Ballroom was just a little bit up the road and I got their soon. Frank Turner‘s show as in full swing when I arrived and the venue was packed. I felt immediately drawn in and forgot all about the fact that I needed to pee and wanted something to drink. I believe it was ‘Back in the Day’ he was playing as I was looking for a good spot from which I could at least see the stage. The entire room was bursting with good energy and everyone seemed to be singing along. 😀

While I was walking upstairs and finally found a place to stand in the second row on the side I wondered how I could have forgotten just how good he is. He was performing solo acoustic and held the entire audience in the palm of his hand. It was brilliant. The two couples I ended up standing behind were really nice and even offered me a spot at the barrier for a while so I had a better view. Thank you! At least two of them were long term fans and showed me a picture they had gotten with Frank. Having good people around you make a good show even better.

I did not remember any of the songs and while a few seemed familiar I could not have named them, but that did not matter at all. Just standing there listening and seeing the crowd hang on to Franks every word made me happy. I felt like I was being welcomed with open arms and I tremendously enjoyed being there. No matter which song he played they were all greeted with great cheers and enthusiastic participation. From my vantage point I saw people dancing in the midst of the crowd and everyone was having a great time.

He spoke about how good Camden Rocks is and that it’s really not about going to see someone like him, but up and coming bands. He mentioned a few that he has seen and like and ended with telling us not to listen to any geezer telling us Rock ‘n’ Roll was dead because this festival alone proved how very much alive it is. At some point, i think it was right before the encore he climbed down into the crowd and walked among his fans.

For the whole show I could see a lot of people standing side stage and for one song one of them shared the mic with Frank. Then, as he returned  for the encores, he returned with a band. The Sleeping Souls were not available that night, but the organizer of Camden Rocks and other friends now shared the stage with him for a brilliant encore of cover songs. It was impossible to stand still during those and the entire venue was partying.

When it was over the two couples around me said goodbye and asked how I’d like it. I replied that it was great and that I was going to check I I could see him again soon, since I knew he is playing in Duisburg in June. The festival could not have ended on a higher note – I walked home smiling. 🙂

Setlist

Don’t Worry
Recovery
Long Live the Queen
Back in the Day
Little Changes
Be More Kind
Jinny Bingham’s Ghost
The Opening Act of Spring
I Knew Prufrock Before He Got Famous
The Road
The Way I Tend to Be
Photosynthesis
The Ballad of Me and My Friends
The Next Storm
I Still Believe
Get Better

Pretty Vacant (Sex Pistols cover)
Teenage Kicks (The Undertones cover)
London Calling (The Clash cover)
If The Kids Are United (Sham 69 cover)

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