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LEAF HOUND, Borderline, London 4 November 2011
To play a
classic album in its entirety is now such an established concert routine
that it is in danger of becoming a cliché. But even though this
incarnation of Leaf Hound have toured for seven years and released the
excellent Unleashed album, their debut album Growers of Mushroom became
such a cult that a copy went for £2000 on eBay a few years back.
with the fact that 2011 marks the 40th anniversary of the album's
release (by which time the original band had already split up), and
there can be few more appropriate cases for the classic album treatment.
As many of
their infrequent shows seem to be in North London pubs it was also good
to see the band play one of Central London's most prestigious venues
(even if the red curtain behind the stage and red and purple lighting
are more suited to Spearmint Rhino than a rock club!) That also meant
for a healthy sized crowd, and I sensed that singer and sole original
member Pete French was both genuinely touched by the turnout and putting
his full heart and soul into his performance as a result.
the Zeppelin meets Sabbath riffs of 'Freelance Fiend', 'Drowned My Life
in Fear' and 'Stagnant Pool', all of which are established live
favourites, the real treat of this show was hearing songs rarely, if
ever, played in concert before and in particular the two 'epics', 'Work
My Body', with several changes of tempo and an almost jazz-like musical
extemporisation, and 'With a Minute to Go'.
of his contemporaries, Pete's voice seems somehow ageless, and it was
also interesting to hear some of the stories behind the songs.
(relatively) youthful band work brilliantly together and the songs give
them scope to stretch out and improvise in a way which is all too rarely
seen these days.
staying reasonably true to the originals, their subtle reworkings
actually enhance them, notably 'Sad Road to the Sea' where the three of
them built an ever faster tempo and Ed Pearson produced some virtuoso
bass work before jamming against guitarist Luke Rayner, whose playing
was as rich and soulful as ever.
And on the
cult title track - which Pete confessed was not based on experience -
Jimmy Rowland's urgent and aggressive drumming was central in giving the
song its atmospheric sound.
more current work got a look-in during the encores, 'Too Many Rock n
Roll Times' with its Crossroads riff providing a more straight ahead
contrast, and Atomic Rooster's 'Breakthrough' reworked from
organ-dominated to a guitar heavy sound with an epic feel.
'classic' is overused, but this show did full justice to the legacy Leaf
Hound created with their master work.
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