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Unicorn, Camden 8 January 2011
second year running, classic rockers Leaf Hound began the year in
some style with an intimate, not to mention free, gig in the rear of
this Camden pub that was heaving to the gills.
From the original lineup that released the 1970 album Growers of
Mushroom that later became a cult classic that sold for serious money,
only singer Pete French remains. But the good news is that, unlike some
of his contemporaries, his warm, bluesy voice is undimmed by the passage
of the years, and on this occasion he seemed in particularly exuberant
form, regularly adding extra ad libs to his vocal delivery. My only
complaint was that from the back of a thickly packed crowd, I could not
hear his rather muffled between song intros over the noise.
with 105 degrees and Overtime from 2007's Unleashed comeback (oddly
still described by Pete as 'new' songs, and other than Drowned My Life
in Fear (or 'Drowned My Wife in Beer' as he quipped) with its Sabbath-esque
riff, the first half of the set was dominated by that album, with Luke
Rayner reeling off his typical fluent, soulful solos during the likes of
Man with the Moon in Him and Too Many Rock n Roll Times.
As the set
wore on, the excellent band were given more scope to stretch out and
show their chops, notably on Sad Road to the Sea with bassist Ed Pearson
and Luke trading instrumental passages in a manner reminiscent of early
Led Zeppelin, the massive riffage of Freelance Fiend which brought the
biggest cheer of the night to date, and their guitar heavy reworking of
Atomic Rooster's Breakthrough.
Mushroom, the song that above all others has made them legendary figures
among stoner rock fans, was a psychedelic freak out propelled forward by
Jimmy Rowland's drumming which contributed to the song's dramatic
As a bonus, they squeezed in an encore of Stagnant Pool, with another
classic riff, which like many of the debut album songs has to be played
less frequently these days.
appreciates the great early pioneers of heavy rock -Zeppelin, Purple,
Sabbath and Free - would be delighted by Leaf Hound. Yet while it was
nice to see the band in this intimate atmosphere, they belong on a
bigger stage so spread the word.
Photos by Noel
Ten for 10 (feature)
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