(by mwj)

With the cancellation of my train friendly option of The Imperial I elected for a sober drive to the old hall for the first time in years, since my old pissed biking expeditions to the punk nights they’d put on here. I’m am out of sensible biking range (and lacking match fitness) at the moment but this was my first chance to check out these regular rock nights that the guys from Lantern have set up and organised.

Needless to say the Old Hall environment hadn’t changed at all, although the smoking ban meant the smell of damp was more prevalent. Also discovered that at least half the smoke that would have been spread through the venue was now concentrated in the toilets but maybe that’s just a winter thing. The turn-out was certainly very respectable although for an allegedly over 18’s venue I felt distinctly grand-dadish, though I wasn’t alone in this. They didn’t feel the need to ask my age at the bar for some reason…

Big up the DLO, nuff said (in previous reviews!). It was interesting to see the bounds of the “rock” night stretched through the incorporation of the duo’s either rolling or machine gunned hiphop, but as their samples and beats came through the PA well you could definitely see their incorporation of a heavy vibe into their themes. This was not in the clunking old school rap-rock combo tradition but with a sharper intensity and rapid changes more akin to progressive hardcore, especially on my favourite with its hook of “time for change/no more lies”. When you’ve something to say, say it loud.

Which is certainly what Harrow Down did, with harsh screamed vocals with also an almost dark, gothic edge. This was delivered over a backing of fierce contemporary metal-core from a young band, but the energy they put in carried the interest along. Especially as their first song was a 15 minute epic, that stumbled a bit when they had to change to an acoustic section but was still an impressive effort. With practice and refinement they could be pretty innovative.

To be fair I couldn’t maintain much interest in Zebedy, as retro rock/metal may still strike a chord with many, either through nostalgia or familiar patterns but not me personally. It was interesting that there was a selection of older folks there so maybe this was a good judgement in spreading the appeal of the night, but my filters are drawn down so far that I couldn’t even tell you if it was a Led Zeppelin or Deep Purple cover they played. I have limited time, I limit the time I spend in the past.

The biggest incentive to come tonight was the reasonably hyped Anti Virus, who definitely deal in the present and rail against current affairs through the medium of hardcore punk. After an excellent sampled intro featuring Adolf Bush Snr. initial expectations of something in the Global Parasite vein were thrown askew by a more melodic, detailed instrumental opening. Sure enough they kicked into angry but reasoned punk chargers but their collective musicianship was impressive and brought great depth. It might have only been their second or third gig but they were already such a well rounded and positively sure of themselves they effortlessly convinced. They spoke and sang or shouted about the same old system failings but the point is they still are the same old system failings, and having Dave Cox join them on a couple of numbers gave them an even greater intensity, dual vocals ENT style! Great stuff, the underground chorus of disapproval continues to rise, listen, learn, join in.

A change in direction once again, as the Upstarts started seemingly more concerned with Gallagher-aping attitude which didn’t do much for me but they did have a lot of fans for their brand of inde-rock. A pleasant surprise though that they were actually good players and varied their songs a fair bit, at times touching upon Stooges and Doors vibes, but having their own feel too. There was a suggestion that one might have been a Libertines cover but I haven’t a f*cking clue (a lot of people will probably agree), the filters are in full effect.

When their last song turned into three and possible more my patience and orange squash ran out and much as I would have liked to see how Lantern had developed through their wide-ranging gigging and BOTB successes since last seen in Hendre Hall enough was enough. Still at least I know where to find them as they are here every time and I will head over again for sure.