At the end of their set, the assorted members of Florence Black pose for the ritual post gig photo. Singer/guitarist Tristan Thomas asks for a cheer. He doesn’t need to. Birmingham, you see, is the latest city to work out what is abundantly obvious: Florence Black are the best up and coming rock band in the UK. They hinted at it when MV saw them support Bokassa in Wolverhampton recently, here they underline it, in bold. “Zulu” and “Inside Out” from their recent – and mighty – “Weight Of The World” album are kind of a window as to why. Bold and heavy. Thunderous, as it goes and because they fit in nowhere, they are welcome everywhere. There’s an edge to them, like if you didn’t let them in, they’d kick the door down anyway. “The Deep End” provides a highlight and reinforces the idea that they are a gang that intends succeeding. They’ve always had that about them as “Smoke” from their older work attests, and they retain their fandom too. Budgie’s “Breadfan” and don’t forget that their fellow Welshmen never fitted in either. Never cared, either. Proudly doing their own thing. Meet their 21st Century equivalent.
It’s worth saying that Florence Black were not the original support on this tour. Wolfjaw were until the tragic death of their singer Tom Leighton. MV sends our good wishes to Tom’s friends and family, of course. So did Phil Campbell And The Bastard Sons – that they did it in the middle of “Born To Raise Hell” probably gives theirs a little more weight.
The fact that “…..Hell” is played at all is something of a comfort to many of us. PCATBS are keeping the flame of Motorhead alive. November only feels right, after all, if you are listening to the loudest band in the world belt out some of the best songs on the planet.
But if the family Campbell are perhaps the best placed of any artist to mine the legacy, then there’s the not inconsiderable fact that they have a couple of fabulous albums of their own – and Campbell Snr a brilliant solo record too.
It’s a balancing act, for sure, and its one they do fabulously. It’s the third song before Campbell steps into the limelight (to be fair, he’d spent the opening “We’re The Bastards” trying to get his axe to work) and says “I suppose you’re ready for some Motorhead now?” The amount of Everything Louder Than Everything Else backprints suggests yes, and “Rock Out”, well, rocks out.
There’s one other thing that suggests this is a band in it for the long haul, they’ve just swapped singers. A statement suggesting that “they wanted to go in a different direction” means that Joel Peters is in. The Bootyard Bandits man – and this is meant as no disrespect to Neil Starr – looks like he belongs. A man mountain, he wears his rock star dark glasses throughout, and seems like he stepped straight off a Hells Angels meeting to be here. Officially he’s been given the job just for this tour, no one would bet against him getting a permanent berth.
The set is roughly mixed between original and Motorhead stuff. “Son Of A Gun”, “Get On Your Knees” (complete with standard singalong) and one off that Campbell solo record “These Old Boots” jostle for position with “Ace Of Spades” and “Silver Machine” and in truth, they go down just as well, it is noticeable just what an atmosphere is in the room tonight. There’s no drop off when its not Motorhead, that’s for sure.
Confident enough to end the set with “Ringleader” one of their own, the lengthy encore has a filthy boogie in “Going To Brazil” a couple of PCATBS numbers, “Dark Days” (a kind of ballad, I suppose, given that its not a 100mph riot) and “Big Mouth” (“this goes out to every lead singer the world over” jokes Campbell) and then, well, arguably – in MV’s opinion at least – the song that embodies the spirit of rock n roll better than any other.
“Killed By Death” would cheerfully end any set in the world. That it ends this one tells a story. As does this: Phil does the band introductions himself. He introduces his sons and Peters, and then rather than get someone else to make a massive deal about it, he simply says: “and I’m Phil Fucking Campbell”, he is. And after spending 30 years in an institution, he’s given his name to perhaps the best denim clad outfit out there. Watch them for 75 minutes and come to any other conclusion.