Review: Loz Campbell/Firekind – Nice N Sleazy, Glasgow

After their respective sets at Scotland’s Wildfire Festival, Yorkshire’s finest export since its puddings; Loz Campbell, and Devon’s hottest property since some wise old owl topped a scone with cream and jam; Firekind, set off back down south, stopping at various ports of call from Newcastle to Birmingham on their co-headline tour. Before crossing the border, both acts made the short journey back up the M74 to Glasgow for the tour’s opening night.

Well, actually Firekind put some severe mileage in as after they performed at Wildfire on opening day, they flew back down to Devon for a private gig, before flying back up the next day to kick off this co-headline jaunt in fine style. In full-on new album preparation mode, the trio of Jas Morris (vocals/guitar), his brother Dan on bass, and drummer Mitch Pike used these dates to road-test new material for the follow-up to 2020’s debut album ‘What I Have Found Is Already Lost’, and if the rough cuts of the new material are anything to go by then the new album (expected 2023) is going to be pretty tasty.

Opening with ‘Walk In’ – the first of a handful of new tracks – this is expansive, cinematic modern rock that would see Firekind looking right at home sharing the bill with acts as varied as Muse, Foo Fighters, Shinedown, Imagine Dragons, and even Coldplay. Standout choices of the new material would be the “ballad” ‘Burns Like The Sun’, and the more urgent ‘Ego’; two tracks that perfectly highlight the smorgasbord of sounds that Firekind cooks up. Of the older material; the bass-heavy proggy ‘Adrenalin’ continues to thrill with each listen (Jas’s impassioned vocals hitting a nerve, every damn time), Pike’s drums on the James Bond-like intro to ‘Defend’ pulverise as the Morris brothers unfold one soundscape after another, and both ‘Cry For Help’ and ‘Sound Of Rain’ are majestical and showcase exactly why Firekind would light up the bill at Download and Reading/Leeds Festival just as much as they would at Isle of Wight or Glastonbury. ‘Sound Of Rain’ is especially something special, and Pike puts in one hell of a shift behind the kit on this one. A confident set from a bunch of musicians who know that they are onto something here.

Connect with Firekind here.

And now for something completely different. Highlighting the depth of variety that can be found in the UK grassroots music scene, the expansive cinematic soundscapes served up by Firekind are replaced by the raw, in-your-face energetic alt-rock sound (with a soupcon of punk) of Loz Campbell and her compadres. What’s even more astonishing than the amount of energy that the quartet serves up, is the fact that this current line-up has only been playing together for a short amount of time. Drummer Tom Kirby is the “veteran” of the band and has been playing with Loz for two years or so (but that timeframe obviously includes the lockdown), bassist Steve Pickles joined in November 2021, and second guitarist Alice ABomb (a very apt stage name) of UK noise-merchants Lady Rage has only been helping out for a short time. After the first few minutes of set-opener ‘Evil’, you would swear that the four had been playing together since school.

Heavily influenced by Shirley Manson – it makes perfect sense when the band tears through a stunning cover of Garbage’s uber-cool anthem ‘I’m Only Happen When It Rains’ towards the end of the set – Loz Campbell packs an almighty wallop that often offers up more of an alternative feel, than what you might class as a classic rock vibe. So much so that moments such as ‘Back Biting The Bullet’ (featuring some stellar guitar licks from Loz), ‘What Are You Doing It For?’, latest single ‘Bad Girl’, and a gorgeous romp through ‘The World Was Made To Destroy You’ could all easily slot into a Spotify playlist that also features acts such as Garbage, Skunk Anansie, Feeder, Bush, L7, etc. Here, in a live setting, in a dingy basement in Glasgow on a Sunday evening, and with Alice ABomb beefing up the sound, each track sounds massive.

There is also an aggressive edge to the music on offer, and not just because of the bullet belt guitar strap that Loz sports; the intro to ‘Beautiful Liar’ sees a Motörhead ‘Overkill’ vibe seeping through, and although the track does settle down a notch or two, Tom Kirby’s double kick-drum work during the early stages is especially fiery. Along with that perfect Garbage cover mentioned earlier, Loz and company also chuck in a riotous cover of ‘Cherry Bomb’ that sets the night on fire and sounds as edgy as the original did some forty-six years ago.

This new four-piece line-up has brought an extra dimension to Loz Campbell’s sound, and material previously recorded as a trio sounds way bigger. The onstage dynamics between Campbell, Kirby, Pickles, and ABomb (try typing that name without losing it every time auto-correct wants to change it to “A-Bomb” – can’t be done) is very natural and they are already showing signs of great chemistry. With the live music scene as precarious as it is at the minute, hopefully, there will be plenty more opportunities to catch these four young musicians sharing the same stage. Pay attention to Alice though, she has a tendency to launch herself from the stage into the crowd, and if you are too busy marvelling at Tom Kirby’s impressive facial hair then you might not notice the guitar headstock that is flying towards you at speed.

Catch Loz Campbell at a venue near you soon, more information here.

Review – Dave

Firekind live images – credit Rob Wilkins

Loz Campbell live images – credit John Jowett

 

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