The Addiction/Alice’s Ants/Black Chapter/Lee Moore
The Chameleon, Nottingham – 26/01/2022
The Chameleon isn’t a big venue. Even by small venue standards it can best be described as compact. It’s tucked away too. You feel as though you’re entering a secret society when you do find the entrance (in Newcastle Chambers for reference). There’s a bar and then upstairs is a room with no stage, very little lighting and some speakers at one end. Stage? Nope! But this is an oasis of talent with a rapidly expanding reputation as the place to hear quality music. Listening to opening act Lee Moore you have to admire the sound quality too. It’s fantastic all night in fact. Moore epitomises what The Chameleon is all about. His show is short but packed with wonderfully penned songs. He handles his acoustic guitar with real class and his vocals are strong and clear. A Frank Turner cover sits perfectly in the original material. Lee Moore sets a high bar, and we’ve only just got going.
From one man and his guitar we get propelled into sludge rock territory thanks to noise merchants Black Chapter. They hit the floor running and race through a strong set which includes one cover, the old ACDC chestnut Whole Lotta Rosie along with a string of self-written tunes. Rhythms are punched out with aplomb with the bass coming on strong when needed. Carl Batten’s vocals simply rock and he also has a fine way of taking the music to the audience, some of which are just a little over exuberant with their moshing given the space available. The big band sound is completed by master shredder Darren Hadfield. Guitarists often flatter to deceive and end up going down a cul-de-sac of complexity. Hadfield knows just how far to push things and how long to push them for. The result means momentum built up is kept, and the set ends all too soon. So soon in fact that an encore is demanded and delivered in style. Black Chapter are part of the backbone of the underground scene. Long may they rock.
Bringing together the strands of punk, riot grrrl and rock isn’t a new concept. What Alice’s Ants do so well is explore fresh avenues. The most obvious and first thing you notice is the three piece have two guitars and no bass. Sometimes they play with just the one guitar. It works well with each song having a crisp progressive feel. The writing and in particular the instrument tuning and arrangements give the band a unique vibe, part retro (more of that in a moment) and part future tense. Emily Alice has a quirky almost serene but strong demeanour that becomes mesmerising at times. They say that the best performers do it for themselves, that being on stage is a cathartic experience, and that’s what Alice’s stage presence gives off. You feel like you’re being invited into her personal world. So rather than project to the crowd to grab them this is one of those times when someone draws you in and on to the stage (assuming there is one). It’s a rare talent to be able to do this, something that’s latent within rather than learned. That’s where the retro part of this trio comes in. That vibe of being drawn in was something artists such as Janis Joplin and Grace Slick had. Emily Alice proves that thankfully it’s not a lost art. Ending up in a collective heap on the floor with their new drummer playing a dismantled kit Alice’s Ants mimic The Who but less destructively as a finale. Bigger venues must surely beckon.
You often get bands with seasoned musicians that go out and play other people’s songs, take the money and run. Tribute and cover acts get payed a wad so why not? The Addiction show you why. They have ‘that’ aura about them. The sound check included a drumming master class intro of Van Halen’s Hot For Teacher (cue rest of band reading this and rolling eyes). Their collective poise while seemingly so relaxed makes you want to watch them. You imagine you’re getting in early on something that will last even before a note is played. Then when the music starts you’re not disappointed at all. In fact you get blown away. The songs are a mix of hard rock and melodic punk, played drum skin tight. Nothing is flashy or gimmicky. Everything is just so. The main reason why The Addiction are so…. Well … Addictive, is they are clearly having a great time. When instruments are played like this, when it all gels, it’s just magical. That’s what this four piece deliver. On a Wednesday night in Nottingham they give you an escape to somewhere better. They also have one other ace up their sleeve too. Singer Persephone Wilson has a great voice and knows how to use it. She also oozes confidence along with that all important sense of fun. The Addiction cap the night off beautifully leaving you wondering why all the fuss about big names in big venues asking for telephone number ticket prices. All you really need is a night at The Chameleon and it’ll lift you just as much as going to an arena will. And the best bit is you’ll have seen the music that’s coming, not the blasts from the past.