Archie Bronson Outfit, Islington Assembly Hall, gig review

 

Is it too much to ask at a rock gig to be able to make out the singer's words? After two songs of '70s-style guitar riffage but all-too muddy vocals from the Archie Bronson Outfit, we fear the answer is yes. But just as the sound engineers take their time to adjust the levels, perhaps our ears also need to adapt to the band’s new sound.

Gone is the freneticism of their second album Derdang Derdang, or the heavy psychedelia of last effort Coconut. These days, with new LP Wild Crush, the three-piece have a confidence, almost a swagger, that lacks the intoxicating sense of danger that pervaded their edgy music of old - yet, eventually, feels every bit as enjoyable.

Yes, Sam Windett still occasionally yelps like Alex Turner could only manage were he locked in a psychiatric ward for years and then exposed to electro-shock treatment. Nevertheless, even Dart For My Sweetheart now sounds chunkier, meatier, more muscular with its quickened drum beat.

The addition of a saxophonist also adds a new level of intensity to their climactic moments. And while they seem destined to play to beautiful old town halls like this one rather than the arenas filled by the likes of the Black Keys, perhaps that’s not a bad thing, as the wooden floorboards reverberate from a crowd stomping for more.

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