7th February 2019
It was with great excitement that I made the trip up from my sleepy Sussex home town to Camden on Thursday to see Kent rockers Collateral perform at the Black Heart as I knew I was in for a top notch night of quality rock n roll. For me, this was the 3rd time seeing the band since being introduced to their remarkable talents at Hard Rock Hell in November and then being in the crowd for the show at Leo’s Red Lion in Gravesend for the 4 Shots EP launch.
COLLATERAL, which used to be called The Angelo Tristan band are made up of frontman supreme Angelo Tristan on vocals and acoustic guitar, the superbly talented Todd Winger on lead guitar and the blindingly tight and powerful rhythm section of Jack Bentley – Smith on bass and Ben Atkinson on drums.
As I arrived at the venue, it was clear from the crowd mingling both outside and at the bar that there was a real buzz about the band and the night ahead. Maybe it was because the band are kicking up a storm with their single Midnight Queen which is getting more and more airplay on Planet Rock or just maybe, like me, they knew that the band are really heading for bigger venues and that the night ahead may just end up being one of those shows that will become a “were you there when” conversation piece.
It didn’t take long for everybody to make their way upstairs and get ready for the nights proceedings. The atmosphere inside was electric as show time got closer and closer and the wall of photographers occupying the front of the stage was testament to the vibe and excitement that Collateral are creating at the moment. With the show being sold out and people packed in from wall to wall, it reminded me of those halcyon days some 30ish years ago when great British bands like Thunder, Little Angels and the Quireboys were causing such a stir in the British music scene.
Show time finally arrived and as the band walked on stage to a loud and vocal reception, they were joined by none other than Planet Rock Breakfast Show DJ Paul Anthony. From all accounts, Mr Anthony had been so impressed with Midnight Queen, the debut single from Collateral that he had asked to come and introduce the band onstage. As he went on to say in his introduction, we were there to witness something special (agreed), the band are going all the way (agreed), they are the headliners of tomorrow (agreed) and the future, with Collateral hopefully at the forefront, is very very bright.
After that introduction, Paul Anthony left the stage to a massive round of applause and the band took over. Ahead was an 11 song set which included three tracks from their debut EP, 4 Shots, two brand new tracks which will be on there debut album and the first song Angelo ever wrote.
The band hit the stage running with the crowd pleasing Calm Before the Storm, a real up tempo rocker that set the tone for the night ahead. Plenty of opportunity for the packed house to clap, sing, jump up and down and get the “party” started. What was soon apparent was that Angelo, a completely captivating frontman, was going to have the crowd eating out of the palm of his hand as they responded to every request he made for them to join in. It didn’t take long for Todd Winger to give us a brief incite into his exceptional talents with an exquisite guitar break during the opening number which without any break in tempo went straight into When Faith Breaks. Two songs in and it was hard to take your eyes off the band. The chemistry between them and the obvious fun they were having made for compelling watching and the ever present smiles on the faces of them all was just a joy to witness.
After those first two numbers, the band dropped the tempo for the poetic You Were The Only One, a ballad with a countryish vibe in places, it once again gave Todd the chance to showcase his skills with some guitar work that reminded me of the great Richie Sambora, back in those days when Bon Jovi wrote hit ballads at will. The combination of Angelo’s acoustic and Todd’s electric guitar give the band and songs such a rich, full sound it fills the air without any room to spare.
Next up is Going With The Wind, and the bands first dip into songs from the 4 Shots EP. The song kicks in with drummer Ben Atkinson providing a thumping solid intro and the tightness he has with bassist Jack Bentley-Smith is easily apparent. This is one of my favourite songs on the EP and it really gains something in the live environment. Angelo holds centre stage throughout and when he sings the phrase “High Voltage Rock Guitar” I find myself looking to Todd as that is exactly what he is playing……just a superb song and a real crowd favourite.
As we head towards the mid point of the set, Angelo gets a chance to give us a glimpse of his own talents with the acoustic intro to Coming Home, a quiet intricate intro to what quickly builds into another classy up tempo rocker that has the crowd clapping, singing and jumping up and down. Some quick band intros during the song before Angelo quietens the mood again to play us the first song he ever wrote, a ballad called Moving On which really gives a glimpse of how talented a songwriter he is. You can just imagine arenas full of lighters waving or as is now the fashion, phone torches, when the band get to playing those venues they are undoubtedly heading for.
Just Waiting For You, the closing track on 4 Shots, is next up and is the final ballad of the evening before the band up the anti and the tempo to bring their successful set to a close. Another classy number, that belies the infancy of this talented group we get a jaw dropping solo break from Todd that helps build a powerful finish to the song and set the atmosphere for the two new tracks the band air tonight.
First up is Promise Land and the first time Angelo has put down his trusted acoustic guitar all evening. He took the mic from it’s stand and moved about the stage, interacting with the crowd at every opportunity and showing that he has magnetic stage presence with or without guitar in hand. As the song drew to a close and he tried to replace said mic on it’s stand to some degree of failure, he must have been thinking of his “Midnight Queen” as the crowd told him to push harder! From Promise Land we move into Merry-Go-Round, another up tempo rocker that we are told will be on the bands debut album. To my ear, these two new songs have a much beefier vibe to them, with some really chunky riffs and powerful drum beat behind them and I have to say I really enjoyed them. If this is what the album is going to sound like, it will not be out of my stereo for a long time.
Finally, Collateral bring their set to a close with Lullaby. A fast rocky little number that is the perfect set closer and definitely not a song you would want to try and get the kids to sleep to. As they leave the stage there are calls for the song that is getting them national airplay and the recognition that these 4 unassuming talented lads from the Garden of England so richly deserve. Without too much delay the band appear back on stage, still smiling and enjoying their time to give the audience what they have been asking for and bring tonight proceedings to a close with Midnight Queen. The song is so catchy and perfect for the radio. I have no doubt that it will be a future classic rock anthem, it is that good although it is also clearly obvious that the crowd are so familiar with it, it is a classic, close to their hearts already. It gives Angelo one last chance to open those hands and give the crowd a final opportunity to eat from them and they do so superbly. As the song draws to a close, Angelo stands there, guitar aloft in one hand, the other hand held high, a pose we will I am sure become accustomed to seeing for many years to come.
I was excited on the way up to Camden and on the journey home, was just buzzing about the “special” night I had just been a part of! Please don’t take my word for it, the whole set is available for viewing on the bands Facebook page. If you couldn’t get there, pay that page a visit and witness it for yourself, you won’t regret it.
The band have further gigs booked in Camden Town on the 18th May at the Borderline and on the 2nd June at Camden Rocks and I will be putting those dates in my diary but first up for me will be a short trip along the Sussex coast to catch them at the Carlisle in Hastings on the 16th February. If you are free, make an effort to catch this band in a local venue as I don’t think they will be playing small venues for that much longer.
Review by Darren Smith : metalplanetmusic
Watch the Facebook Live Planet Rock performance that took place live at The Black Heart on Thursday 7th February 2019