I love the New Cross Inn. It’s a rite of passage for touring bands in London, and being able to get up close and personal with your favourite bands is what really gives this venue its edge. This evening was no exception. At just £9 on the door it was great value for money with six bands on the bill, all topped off with the return of Imperial Leisure who have been sorely missed on the live circuit.
With the Liverpool-Arsenal game being the late kick-off in the Premier League it meant I missed the first three bands so sorry Mid Reflection, Ferocious Lopez and Petty Thieves. Liverpool won, though, so it was well worth it!
Arriving with some time to spare before Karl Phillips and The Rejects took to the stage there was enough time for a few hello’s and catch ups with friends before grabbing a pint and settling in for the evening’s entertainment. Having caught Karl Phillips just last month supporting The King Blues it was fair to say I was looking forward to his set and once again the Northants badman (my words, not his) didn’t let me down. Kicking off with Take It From Me their high energy performance started to draw people towards the stage. Their mixing of grime, punk and ska together, especially on tracks such as The Limit, definitely won over some new fans. Older tracks like Strongbow and On The Level got good responses but it was on newer tracks such as the skanking Too Much and the ska/nu-metal mash up of That’s The Way We Roll that show the development of the band. Finishing with the dark schizophrenic rap of Attack The Brain, that showcases both Karl’s rapid fire lyrics and wit, it was the perfect set-up for the upcoming bands to follow.
It was Kent boys Riskee And The Ridicule who picked up the baton and ran with it, exploding on stage with Hipster, immediately drawing the watching crowd ever closer. It was a set heavy on tracks from the recently released Blame Culture album. To be fair, it’s a great album so they should be proud of these songs and want to share them. The hypnotic groove of Drown followed before things really heated up with the energetic Banger. If there’s a more aptly named song around then I’m yet to hear it. Sure to get a morgue moving this bounces along on crunching guitars whilst hyperactive frontman Scott is a blur of non-stop movement. With the crowd singing the intro to Pool Water, Scott tells them they have to be louder if they want it played, which they duly obliged, and this crowd favourite caused mayhem in the front rows. A buzzing guitar intro welcomes Villain, an up-tempo track that shows the versatility of Scott’s vocals as well as the strength of the musicianship of the rest of the band as they all crash together in the middle section of the song. Ending on the incredible Jack Of All Trades, mixing rude-boy ska and grime to brilliant effect with the willing crowd bouncing along with it and screaming back the lyrics. My only complaint about their set was that it was too short (oh, and no Weekend Superstar).
After a brief hiatus due to personal issues (glad you’re well Denis!) it was great to have Imperial Leisure back in the live environment where they truly shine. They are the epitome of a live band, as to really get the full ‘Leisure treatment you have to see them in their natural habitat. Spraying the front rows with champagne is just par for the course as is water guns loaded with rum (or was it Tequila?) and it’s party mode as soon as they hit the stage and launch in to First Pass The Pump. The floor in the venue is transformed into a trampoline with so many people bouncing that it is vibrating under your feet so much that it’s impossible to stand still. It’s also impossible for frontman Denis to stand still as he conveys the crowd and incites more movement during Victory Cycle and the cheeky skank of Three Woman One Night. I know some of the lyrics may be a little un-PC, but when delivered with a knowing smile and glint in his eye it’s difficult to take offence.
A beefed up Rocky theme intro leads into Animal which brings the brass section to the fore as Denis sings and raps his way over the verses, before some solo trumpet magic from Elliot Phelps who almost stills the show from Denis tonight. Fan favourite Beast sees the crowd chanting as Scott and Jimbo of Riskee join the stage to add their vocals but that pales in comparison when one of my favourites Alperton, with its laid-back groove reaches its climax and the whole crowd are singing “that’s what you get for being a wanker” refrain.
The singing continues during Man On The Street, a fast-paced singalong about the joys of the weekend and the bouncy Creeper. With Denis having run out of booze (shame on him) the offer of free CD’s/T-Shirts is used to encourage people to buy him more although I’m not sure how successful this ploy was.
In A Letter, with its quick-fire raps and heavy brass draws more people into the front rows which is moving in unison to the catchy melodies and infectious chorus. Things speed up a little during ode to the vajazzle that is Razzle Dazzle with cheeky chappie Denis leading the choir of reprobates at the front. As we near the end of the set it’s time to bring out the big boys in old favourites Landlord’s Daughter and final song Untouchable, the former invoking another mass singalong and pogoing amongst the crowd and the first stage dive of the night by trombonist Russ; whilst the latter has one of the bounciest choruses that you just cannot stand still to. With the crowd baying for more the very generous staff gives us the thumbs up and the skank monster that is Beer Belly is unleashed on the excited crowd. It’s a fitting end to a great night of partying and so good to have the Imperial Leisure boys back.