After Summer Sundae I was (unusually for me) feeling a bit ‘gigged out’. I even passed over the chance to go and see the excellent Rogers Sisters at the Barfly on Tuesday. However, Andrew did manage to tempt me out on Friday to see LA rockers The Blood Arm at The Macbeth pub in Hoxton. It was at least in a small part to his email, which promised:
"hook laden songs which rock like a sweet shop in brighton. the main attraction is their lead singer who is one of the most entertaining frontmen i've ever seen - a pint size jim morrison figure who loves to jump into the crowd."
So down we went to see them. It was actually part of a club night called The Secret Door, run by Sean McClusky (formerly?) of Sonic Mook Experiment fame. The Macbeth is actually a fine venue for gigs, despite the well-dodgy sound system. There were four bands on the bill, so we had to endure three rubbish sets (Thomas Tantrum, Oxfam Glamour Models, LR Rockets, if you’re interested) before The Blood Arm came on. But it was worth the wait.
I admit to only being vaguely aware of TBA before. It turns out that they were being touted by Franz Ferdinand last year and even recorded a session for Xfm. Actually, on the Xfm site they’re described as "a sultry combination of Franz Ferdinand, The Doors and The Strokes." Now the FF and the Strokes comparisons are there to be heard. But they have less spikes and more soul than Kapranos and co, and better tunes and less posturing than Casablancas’ bunch. Their likeness to The Doors is less obvious, though they share a similar set-up to their LA forebears in that they have no bass guitar, and an ace keyboard player. Mind you, in this interview, singer Nathaniel Fregoso admits to a love of Morrison et al, so maybe there’s something there.
But enough of the comparisons. They’re an amazing live band. And just as Andrew promised, Fregoso is an entertaining frontman. That’s putting it mildly though. He’s a human dynamo, racing round in a whirl of pent-up energy and sweat. He was off the stage at every opportunity, and being in a small bar, he was given endless possibilities for energetic stunts. So there he was standing on the bar singing whilst being poured a glass of wine (much to the bemusement of the bouncers), lying prostrate on the floor, grabbing chairs to both sit and stand on and even starting the song Hey Girl! from inside the ladies’ toilets. But he’s not just a bit mad, he’s charming too – asking fans their names and dedicating various songs to them in person. He even ends up dancing with one during the last song. They had to pull the plug way too early for my liking, but it was a blast, a live experience to remember and repeat.
On the way to the gig, we were expressing collective incredulity at the popularity of the likes of Kasabian and Razorlight. After the show we agreed that it was almost heartbreaking that these bands sell out Brixton Academy in a flash while bands like TBA still toil with other journeymen in small pubs like The Macbeth. But then again, give me a gig in a venue like this anytime over the corporate production line that is the Carling venues and their like. For now at least, The Blood Arm’s loss is our gain.
One reason for their relative lack of success may be to the fact that their self-released debut album Bomb Romantics had a limited run and is now out of print. So I’m posting a few more tracks than I normally would from a single album on this blog, just so you can appreciate these crazy Angelenos too.
Check my photos of the gig on Flickr
There are more photos of the gig and the band's trip to London on their very own blog!