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The Unicorn, Camden, London 9 January 2010
A gig early
in the year is always just the thing to lift the post-Christmas blues,
especially in a freezing cold winter such as this one, and a rare
one-off date by Leaf Hound was just the thing to send spirits soaring.
Theirs is an
amazing history: despite having the raw quality of contemporaries Led
Zeppelin and Black Sabbath, they never made it only for their sole
album, 1970's Growers of Mushroom, to later become a legendary ‘lost' LP
selling for four figure sums on eBay.
nearly a quarter of a century and a chance meeting in the Heavy Load
club off Oxford Street led to singer Pete French forming a new version
of the band, that has survived to this day and released a fine
follow-up, Unleashed, in 2007.
remarkable thing is the extent to which the band boast a dedicated
younger following, who contributed to a healthy three figure crowd in
this Camden pub despite the gig receiving little publicity.
Old and new
songs blended seamlessly, beginning with Stagnant Pool and Drowned My
life in Fear from the debut, but moving on to now familiar newer tunes
in 105 degrees, and Overtime, guitar hotshot Luke Rayner delivering a
great solo with his typical fluency.
being in his sixties, Pete's warm, bluesy voice is still in good nick,
and he still looks the seventies rocker with his hair and fringed
Rock'n'roll Times, a Crossroads for the new millennium, is still their
catchiest number, but a couple of things struck me more than I could
recall from seeing them previously. Some of the new songs, notably
The Man with the Moon in Him, had a much heavier edge than on CD, while
in the latter part of the set, the band really got into a jamming groove
for Freelance Fiend and their guitar heavy revamp of Atomic Rooster's
Pearson and drummer Jimmy Rowland both showed great energy, not just
holding down the beat but creatively shaping the sound in the manner of
a Cream, Mountain or Zeppelin.
with the psychedelic freak out of Growers of Mushroom, the song that
more than any other built their legend in stoner rock circles, yet
appearances can be deceptive: in truth it is actually a story of a man
whose wife poisoned him with inedible fungi.
Leaf Hound legend is very much alive and well, and some appearances on
the festival circuit this summer would in my view be a great way to mark
their '40 years'.
photo by Andy Nathan
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