On the eve of Camden Rocks Festival 2016, Warrior Soul played a show at The Barfly, Camden with support from The Black Bullets and The Main Grains. Warrior Soul and The Main Grains also played Camden Rocks Festival but with 200 bands to see I decided it would make more sense for me to see them the night before, I was going to be in London anyway and there was no guarantee I would get in to see either band on the day. I’ve walked past The Barfly on the handful of occasions I’ve been to Camden Market, an iconic venue I’ve always wanted to go to, and it was lucky that I did as it no longer exists as The Barfly, it has now been renamed Camden Assembly.
Warrior Soul, a hard rocking band from New York have been around since 1987. I never got to see them back in the day when frontman Kory Clarke had an enviable head of waist length blonde hair, so now was my chance. He still has a good head of hair just a lot shorted these days and whilst I remember seeing The Wasteland on Headbangers Ball, I don’t remember too much else but I wanted to see them on the strength of that one song alone!
Kicking off tonight’s proceeding were Basingstoke based Punk Rock n Rollers The Black Bullets. Opening with Eat Your Heart Out from their EP Bulletproof. Their frontman Billy T in tight jeans, policeman’s cap and white boots asked ‘How’re you doing? We’re The Black Bullets’ They were energetic from the off with Billy throwing the mic around, so much so, that the mic and stand fell off the stage, luckily he didn’t, and without missing a beat he borrowed Lance’s whilst a photgrapher, who’d narrowly missed being garotted, returned the offending items to the stage. I recognised another one from Bulletproof Spit in Your Eye, which reminds me, if no one else, of the Two Pints of Lager theme tune. Billy got Alex in a stranglehold at one point and got a bit of banter going with the crowd saying ‘Sorry I’m deaf you can heckle as much as you like I’ll just take the hearing aids out!’
Then came Bombshell the hard hitting title track from their latest EP. Billy asked if we were looking forward to The Main Grains then told us that The Black Bullets had a guitarist called Stevie Pearce who now plays with Warrior Soul (former singer Rob Castle relocated to LA see here when they were four. I don’t know the full bio but it looks like Carl is the only remaining original member and their ranks have grown to five over the years). They finished off with Sin Seeker, another one from Bulletproof, with ‘Black Bullets’ crafted into the lyrics. Billy’s final words ‘Goodnight enjoy the rest of the night’ I enjoyed their set, this was the second time I’ve seen The Black Bullets, I liked them when I first saw them supporting Anti-Nowhere League at the 100 Club and would to see them more but as they gigs are mainly down South, it just hasn’t worked out that I can get to any. They are through to the final of this years HRH Highway to Hell in Sheffield, where they get the chance to beat off the other contenders for the chance to play Hard Rock Hell. Good luck to them!
Billy T – Vocals/Harmonica
Lance Skybaby – Guitar
Skinn Klick – Guitar
Carl D- Drums/Vocals
Alex – Bass/Vocals
Next up came The Main Grains a Punk N Roll band from Newcastle, a relatively new band having formed in 2015. Fans of The Wildhearts will recognise frontman Danny McCormack, their former bass player. Perhaps it’s a Geordie thing with Danny sporting a Brian Johnson style flat cap, he looked a little nervous as he announced ‘ We are The Main Grains, a brand new band, so wish us well!’ before adding ‘Raise your glasses, drop your pants and dance!’ before they launched into their first track, which was debut single Unscrewed from mini album Don’t Believe Everything You Think, a Ramones type song which went down well and Danny said ‘Cheers. Thank God you liked it’ then came latest single We’re Happy Round Here which reminded me of Eagles of Death Metal’s I Want You So Hard.
Danny then invited us to spend our money at the merch stand, or so I thought until I realised that Spend Your Money was the title of the next song. The set included an Undertones’ cover in Teenage Kicks with sticksman Ginna singing the lead vocals on this one, before a bass drum start led into the next one with JJ and Ben singing vocals at start before Danny took over. Danny then announced something and I couldn’t quite catch what he said but I think he was asking us to bear with them whilst Ginna was changing a drum, snare I think! I didn’t feel so bad about not understanding when I overhead someone behind pipe up ‘Even I couldn’t understand that and I grew up with the cunt!’ She’s a Catch with it’s speedy, repeated refrain of ‘She’s a catch’ reminded me of Loud Hard Fast by Bulletproof Rose. Finishing off their set with Keepin’ On Keepin’ On a fast rocking song which had some audience members really going for it! Danny’s final words ‘Cheers, goodnight.’ The first time I’ve seen them, enjoyed their set and although they were playing Camden Rocks Festival the following day I was glad I saw them the night before to make sure I got the chance to see them!
They are going to be supporting Ginger Wildheart on three dates of a UK tour next month – see poster for dates.
Danny McCormack – Bass/Vocals
John JJ Watt – Rhythm Guitar/Vocals
Ben Marsden – Lead Guitar/Vocals
Ginna Rhodes – Drums/Vocals
When it came to be time for the headliners Warrior Soul to hit the stage I looked round to see how busy it was and it was, very busy, possibly sold out although I didn’t hear one way or the other. Stevie Pearce came on cupping his hand to his ear as if to say ‘I can’t hear you’ which resulted in some loud whoops, after all the musicians had taken their places, on strutted frontman Kory Clarke, looking uber cool in ripped jeans and denim waistcoat, reminding me of David Johansen from New Yorks Dolls, but not as craggy combine his look and style, with the good looks of Jon Bovi Jovi and you get the idea. Kory was a great showman from the off, covering the stage well. Warrior Soul a lean combination of punk and rock n roll. Kory’s voice sounded more gravelly than I’d expected, as though he’s chain smoked for years but it suited the music especially songs like Punk and Belligerent and with his Iggy Pop type sneers, one fingered salutes and a few powerful yells he certainly came across as punk and belligerent. I can’t pretend I knew the name of every song and I didn’t get a set list but I got a few of them. Michael started one song and the others looked a bit confused and looked at him as if to say it’s not that one next. He just laughed, said ‘Oh yeah’ then clashed his drumsticks together before launching into The Wasteland which had Kory giving him a drink from bottle of beer during the song, a hard hitting one, which was very popular with the crowd.
‘It’s nice to be back in England!’ announced Kory ‘I only come here for the weather! Spain Sucks!’ and he went on to say the next song was the theme tune from one of their favourite London bands Generation Graveyard. I don’t know them but found them on Facebook, they’re a death punk band band who I’ll have to investigate. A hard, fast one starting with a yelled ‘Bombs away’ and during this one Kory went over to Christian on bass, lifted his beanie hat up and whispered something in his ear. I don’t know what was said but Christian laughed. Before the next song Kory said ‘I dedicate this ……’ then grabbed his crotch and a beer before asking ‘Is this London? Camden? England?’ which resulted in ‘yeahs’ and he said ‘Great when people know where they live. This goes out to all the cocksuckers in Chicago, Payback’s A Bitch‘ a raw energetic one with great riffs and lots more one fingered salutes, and gesturing from Kory.
‘Are you guys ready to party?’asked Kory ‘Did you see The Main Grains, Daniel McCormack and his mighty maniacs? Did you like them? This one’s off our fifth album, it’s called The Drug‘ a Jane’s Addictionesque number, with a heavy bass line, which had Kory kneeling, and most of the audience nodding in time to the beat. Kory was encouraging people to clap in time and at the end he said ‘Thank you’ before introducing the band. Kory then said ‘Thank you London, for the opportunity to play to your beautiful faces’ nothing like a bit of flattery as this led to shouts for more, although they hadn’t left the stage. They launched into a punky one which had Kory jumping around, the audience fist pumping and everyone looked happy, Kory said ‘I love you’ Christian raised his bass aloft in salute to the audience and the band went off.
More shouts for ‘More’ led to Warrior Soul coming back on stage on to play a few encore songs the Ozzy Osbourne meets The Black Crowes style Love Destruction, think of a punked up No More Tears meets Hard To Handle which had a lot of people singing along and dancing energetically. Kory told us ‘It’s so great to come to London. I want you guys to give yourselves a hand. Thank you from all the bands’ which received a hefty round of applause. Then Fuck The Pigs went out to all the asshole police in the world, this one reminded me of The Rolling Stones’ Jumping Jack Flash and had Kory giving Christian a drink. Then they finished with a slightly mellower one, didn’t catch the title but it had a Lou Reed/Bob Dylan vibe with a strong bass line interspersed with screaming riffs and saw Kory down on the floor again. At the end Stevie was holding his guitar up to a chant of ‘London! London! London!’ Kory repeated ‘Thank you! We are Warrior Soul‘ several times before a final ‘London. Thank you!’ the band came to the front and took a bow, a few plectrums were thrown out to the crowd and then they bowed out! Until tomorrow where they were to be closing band at The Blackheart. I hadn’t really known what they would be like and they turned out to be raw and energetic, a good blend of punk and rock n roll, really enjoyed their set. Kory was an engaging frontman and I’d love to see them again in the not too distant future.
Anyone heading to the Tattoo Convention in Belgium next month will get the chance to see them headlining there.
Kory Clarke – Vocals
Stevie Pearce – Guitar
Christian Kimmett – Bass
Michael Branagh – Drums
Note – I have to confess that when I came to take a few photos I found I’d left my camera battery charging at my brothers and when I asked if he fancied bringing it over to Camden the short answer was No! Luckily I bumped into two members of Warrior Soul the following day so was able to get a photo. A big thanks to photographer Jeff Moh for letting me use his photos to illustrate the review.