Words: Simon Opie
Camden has developed several indoor festival-type events, each very different in character, including last Saturday’s eponymous Camden Rocks. Following April’s terrific Desertfest, Camden has rocked significantly of late and Camden Rocks showcased a plethora of bands in one day across 18 venues with headliners such as Johnny Borrell & Zazou, and The Subways. But for the ultimate headlining slot there was only one place to be at the end of the day – crammed into the sweaty and intimate Barfly for a truly great performance from one of this column’s very favourite bands – Orange Goblin.
Now in their twentieth year, Orange Goblin have stepped up a gear since making the decision to devote their energies full-time to the cause of their band. Such has been the impact of their last album – 2012’s excellent, and potential swansong, 'Eulogy For The Damned' - that headlining Bloodstock and appearing high on the bill at other major summer festivals has suddenly become business as usual for one of the UK’s hardest working outfits.
So the opportunity to see Orange Goblin up close and personal in the confines of the Barfly was just too good to miss. OG absolutely did not disappoint – battle hardened from playing no less than 161 gigs in 2013, they now exude utter professionalism in every aspect of their performance. But even better, the band were clearly stoked to be playing to a packed and enthusiastic crowd who knew the songs, sang the choruses and spontaneously went totally wild in all the right places, without needing a prompt.
For their part, the band played immaculately – Joe Hoare scything out the riffs on his trademark white Gibson SG, backed by perhaps the tightest heavy rock rhythm section around – the propulsive Chris Turner on drums and the rock-steady basslines of Martyn Millard. Taking up the challenge, vocalist Ben Ward was on simply magnificent form as OG ripped through a setlist taken from across their entire catalogue.
Highlights included an immaculate version of 'Made Of Rats', a raucous 'Some You Win, Some You Lose', and the excellent lead single from 'Eulogy...', 'Red Tide Rising'. The one-hour set flashed by in a steamy and bruising, quite literally, rush. All too soon, the anthemic 'Time Travelling Blues' closed out what had been a quite outstanding performance from a band now at the very top of their game. Fans of heavy metal should absolutely not miss them while they’re on this kind of form.
We must also give an honourable mention to Hang The Bastard who provided an uncompromising and bracing set to prepare the stage for Orange Goblin, and, earlier in the day, to Devil Sold His Soul, another of this column’s very favourite bands who truly rocked The Underworld once the traditional sound problems had been ironed out. All in all, Camden Rocks was a great day’s entertainment with a sensational highlight to close.
Find more info at camdenrocksfestival.com.