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Sunday, June 26, 2005

Dead Next Door at The Dublin Castle

No, I didn't run off to Ireland. I dropped by a music pub in Camden Town (just a short jaunt from the Camden tube stop) called The Dublin Castle for an evening of rock and roll. (Yes, apparently when on vacation all I do is see live shows.)

I picked the club because I had not been there yet, and I think my nose steared me correctly as I had even more fun than I did at The Barfly on a similar reconaissance mission last summer. The club is well known in these parts, and appears to be on the same circuit as clubs like 93 Feet East, The Windmill, and Islington Academy for emerging local acts and according to a news article posted at the site has hosted bands such as Blur and Madness in their formative years.

The first band Motel Hero put on a respectable show, but their performance didn't seem to have much more energy than their sound check. The second band, The Cuban Heels, was more up to snuff -- tight, and they had their chops down, but at least for me they were lacking a needed ingredient to generate real excitement. Headliners Luxemborg, the band I actually had gone to see based on a description of "noir pop" by Time Out) were quite good at what they did -- (charismatic and slightly weird new wave -- their keyboard player wore a white hoody.) No complaints there, and they are better than the Killers.

It was the second to last band Dead Next Door that really pumped me up.

I'd met Dead Next Door's drummer Gav (Gavin Ransley) outside before the gig, and he totally reminded me of Damon, the head of security First Avenue back in Minneapolis. Gav introduced me to Rob the bass player, and I was pleased to then actually have people to talk to. In London, I very much feel like a scenester from a different scene, and that's both refreshing and awkward. Refreshing because I enjoy the freedom of being completely unrecognized; awkward, because as a shy person it can be taxing to keep yourself occupied between bands without conversation.

Dead Next Door's set started about half past ten. It only took me about 15 seconds to A) realize I was enjoying the band very much, and B) pick the mix of influences that I was hearing. From the first song "Sense of Place" these influences were equal parts U2, Clash and Interpol. From the second song "Metro" (which is featured on the band's debut EP) I added Joy Division and Echo & The Bunnymen, and anyone who knows my personal tastes knows happens to me when these forces collide. Add the heavy hitting and straight on rock drumming of Gav and you have a no nonsense, molotov cocktail of a band.

Gav described their music to me as "aggressive rock," even going so far as to think he'd coined the phrase "aggro-rock" and wondered if they could bill themselves as "the world's first aggro rock outfit." (Sorry, Gav, but a Google search on "aggro-rock" yields over 6,000 results currently.) But he does have a point about the rhythm section. There is a melodic pop element omnipresent in Dead Next Door's songs, and the guitars are known to ring sweetly on ocassion, but the songs never get derailed by sentiment. The drums and bass always push forward, never reaching a frenzy, but never allowing you to forget that first and foremost this is a rock band.

Ed the guitar player plays with his guitar so low to the ground you'd swear it weighed 300 pounds. And fronting the goup is Andreas, whose vocals are on the Bruce Springsteen side of Kelly Jones. (This is a compliment whether or not you like the Stereophonics.) And he's a frontman not afraid to tap into the charisma of Jim Morrison.

One set highlight was "Twenty Seven" (again a song from their EP.) The band's most popular song, requests for it had been being shouted out since near the start of the set. When played the sizable crowd -- the largest crowd for any of the four bands on this bill -- went crazy (photos will be online when I return to the States.)

Clearly seeing my enjoyment as I danced in the front row shooting photographs, a man leaned in and said, "This band is going to be huge!" Never mind that I found out later it was Gav's brother. Enthusiam like that is contagious, and it just goes to show you that another of the greatest assets a band can have is its fans.


Craig said...

Hey mate.

Just thought i'd leave a quick message agreeing with your review about Dead Next Door.

But then i would agree-I'll say hi to Gav when i see him next.

Craig ;)

Anonymous said...

Hey GAv it's ur sis!!(daf)Really miss u and Han.Yr band rocks loads!!I love ur songs.And people who are reading this I am from Australia!!U should come and play out here as they will love u!!Oh yeah Andreas is cool at singing by the WAy!!

Anonymous said...

i live in oz and having seen DND wen I went to england, I think they shud come here 2 play they were awesome!!!

Paul J said...

Hi chaps

Paul J here...
was at the show and it was legendary... Did make a film as making a 4 min blog report for also a some streaming asf files at Thanks to all concerned and nice to meet you david...