Sunday, 5 May 2013

Baby Woodrose and Kadavar in Gijon, 3rd May 2013

Rock music has been around for nearly 60 years now and pretty much everything that can be done with it has been done.

It had its period of youthful experimentation and like country music, jazz and blues before it, has now settled into a grand old age of lifetime achievement awards and hanging out in the rock and roll hall of fame.

However rock’s golden era still seems to fascinate those who were born too late to experience it first time round. Only the other day I was explaining the virtues of the MC5 to a 16 year-old who had just discovered Grand Funk Railroad.

Rock’s past seems ever present. It lingers on offering mythical tales of a lawless land of long ago; a musical wild west of dangerous guitar slingers, drug addled desperados and visionary shamen, all of whom make contemporary musicians look like rather dull and plodding insurance clerks. We have an audience, young and old, who hanker after the nostalgia of a period which is now an astonishing 40 – 50 years old. Rock is now the stuff of myth and legend. And its history is forever being rehashed, reheated and resampled by a contemporary culture desperate to fill in the void at its heart.

So, given that it’s all been done before, what can a young boy do if he (or she) wants to play in a rock and roll band in the 21st century?

I saw Baby Woodrose and Kadavar play live the other night. Both bands openly take their cues from rock’s past but seem to have found, if not a way out then at least a way of bypassing rock’s creative cul-de-sac.

Kadavar take you right back to 1971. A power trio from Berlin (Lupus Lindemann on vocals and guitar, Mammut on bass and Tiger on Drums) whose intense Black Sabbath style heavy riffage return you to an era of flailing hair and brain crushing reinforced concrete block chords. And they are actually really good at it. This is the stuff I was raised on in the mid 70s and back then these guys could have held their own.

I remember seeing Black Sabbath in the mid 70s and there might be some interesting comparisons to be made between these musical fathers and sons. When I saw Sabbath they were probably already a little past their peak (1976). They already seemed to be going through the motions and were more than a little distant. Kadavar are a much sprightlier band than the Black Sabbath I saw. Kadavar’s drummer, the er... aptly named “Tiger” really pushed the band hard and the musical interplay between the musicians, the pace of the set and the band’s attack really impresses. Kadavar play with a passion and brute force which I don’t remember Black Sabbath having in 1976 and on that score they actually win out. What Kadavar don’t have of course is an Ozzie Osborne and, as yet and perhaps more importantly, songs that equal the stature of the Sabs’ Paranoid, Iron Man, Children of the Grave, War Pigs etc.

However, in the mean time, Kadavar are one hell of a fine hard rock band to see on a good night. Shut your eyes and it could just be 1971 again…

Baby Woodrose are something else. If Kadavar want to take you back to 1971 Baby Woodrose exist in an eternal 1966. And those of us hooked on a haze of shimmering 12 string Rickenbackers, backwards Kinks riffs and swirling sitars know that’s a pretty good place to exist in.

Baby Woodrose have been around for a dozen or so years and have a prolific number of albums that exist in that alternative 1966 universe. Formed in Copenhagen in 2001 the current line-up is Lorenzo Woodrose: Lead guitar, lead vocals; Kåre Joensen: Bass, vocals; Mads Såby: Guitar, vocals and Hans Beck: Drums.

They know, as you and I do, that the true soul of rock and roll can be found on the original Nuggets box set. Their goal is to smoke it out, reawaken it and deliver it to you in the garage of your mind.

Live they don’t mess about. On record Lorenzo Woodrose can sound on occasion, uncannily like Arthur Lee on the first Love album. Live he plays guitar like Ron Ashton on the first Stooges album. Pulsating wah-wah solos ignite and soar over the band’s relentless garage pump and stomp and everyone gets lost in the sheer force of the moment.  And that is the point. They have some catchy songs, nothing as great as their heroes of 1966 but that doesn’t seem to be what this is about. These “songs” are just a pretext to get lost in the psychedelic fuzz freak-out of that eternal 1966.

And it works. The band’s passion for the music is what pulls everyone through.

Both these bands seem to me to be examples of how you can take a form that has been around for half a century and pump some life back into it. It’s the passion. The soul. You don’t have to original or inventive or smart. It’s the Punk ethic. Just play the fucker like your life depended on it and that will see us all through.

And thanks to Kadavar and Baby Woodrose for doing that the other night.

Baby Woodrose and on facebook

Kadavar on facebook and twitter

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