Review by Pete Finn for MPM
After a weekend off, MPM Tog Manny and myself are back on the road. The two old Muppets are crossing the border and heading into the city of Derby.
In my youth I’ve visited The Assembly Rooms, and more recently The Flower Pot, but this is my first time to The Hairy Dog.
And what a way to ‘pop my cherry’ with tonight’s amazing ‘Triple Header’ of Phil Campbell and The Bastard Sons supported by These Wicked Rivers and Earl of Hell. The icing on the cherry pie, is that Phil Campbell and The Bastard Sons are playing a Motörhead set.
The Hairy Dog first opened its doors in 2012, it has since become a popular venue on the UK Tour schedules. They describe themselves as, “The small music venue with a big sound in the heart of Derby.” They continue, “Since opening our doors 10 years ago we have already proved we can keep up with much bigger venues. The venue is run, first and foremost by genuine music lovers, we love what we do and we love it when you talk music to us.”
2016 saw the opening of a new 400 capacity venue room, with an impressive new stage, P.A. system, lighting rig, cloak room and most importantly a new bar. This sounds very much like my kind of venue, and I’m looking forward to visiting it.
We park up on a road adjacent to the venue and have a 2-minute walk to The Hairy Dog, we pass a garage selling second-hand Rolls-Royces. Outside, there is a nice covered patio area with a food van on it. Once inside we are met by a good-sized bar and a big games room, very impressive. We’re given our passes and enter the hall, it’s square and painted black, there’s another bar at the back opposite the stage, which is a good height and set back into the wall like a letter box. The air-con must be set to ‘11’ it’s very cold in here, but, probably not for long. You can smell it’s going to be loud in here tonight, I look up and see a banner on the rafters “If we’re going to do it – we’re going to do it loud”. I’m liking this.
Formed in Edinburgh during the 2020 pandemic, Scottish fuzz-rockers Earl Of Hell have blended a potent mix of fuzz, doom, punk, and rock ‘n’ roll. The result being a fiery, riff-laden sound with heavy rock licks and ominous lyrics.
Earl Of Hell feature, Eric Brock (vocals), Lewis Inglis (guitar and backing vocals), Dean Gordon (bass) and Ryan Wilson (drums). They are all experienced musicians who wanted to combine their talents and their love of all things heavy to create a “Bad ass rock ‘n’ roll powerhouse.”
They released their debut 6 track EP ‘Get Smoked’ on 29th April 2022, in collaboration with Slightly Fuzzed Records.
Earl of Hell walk out through the red lights as ‘Highway to Hell’ finishes, and they’re straight into ‘Kill The Witch’ from the new EP. The drums of Wilson start the evening rolling, quick and steady. Inglis guitar has a dirty electronic sound to it, it’s different, I like it. The racing beats are amplified by Gordon’s punching bass line. Brock’s vocals are complimented by some good interchanges with Inglis. A tidy start.
It’s straight into ‘Arrhythmia’ which was released as a single in 2021. This has a quicker tempo, again the drums are a prominent feature, short riffs give a slight Psychobilly feel but the beats are harder, more Sabbath like, it’s a great mix. Brock’s vocal is quick and angry creating atmosphere. Wilson is up and off his stool. There doing something the Derby crowd like, as the bar in the next room is now empty, they’re all in here.
Brock asks “How are you doing?” the reply of a good cheer is met with smiles from the band. Next, it’s ‘I Am the Chill’ from ‘Get Smoked’. Inglis lays down another dirty riff to start, this is slower, a great stoner sound. Brock almost speaking as he tells the story.
Gordon has his bass reverberating around the room. All the sound has a hint of distortion and fuzz, giving a slightly haunting effect. The crowd are enjoying this. Inglis’ solo sees him with his guitar low on his hip as he crashes the notes out.
The throbbing bass indicates ‘Parasite’ has started. The sound is early RHCP mixed with massive bass. The tempo slows for the solo, before Wilson picks up the pace and the rest follow. Brock’s lyrics short and abrupt. The heads in the crowd are nodding.
The fast-paced and up-beat ‘Blood Disco’ is next. Inglis is headbanging as he plays. The backing vocals add another dimension to their sound, filling it out. The lyrics are angry, yet with the backing vocals producing harmonies that calm things down. A clever mix.
Brock thanks everyone for making the effort to get in early to see them, and their new EP is available at the Merch stand.
Next, we have ‘Still Bltzd’ this has a real heavy riff, very Sabbath-esque. Wilson is smashing his kit as Inglis solo takes you back to the classic rock sounds of the 70’s. Hard chugging guitars and ground shaking bass.
Inglis starts the lead vocals for ‘X-Plode’, it has a lightning-fast tempo and crashing cymbals, it’s high energy. Gordon is prowling the stage. Quick riffs and a squealing lead break bring the track to a gunshot finish.
“We have time for one more”, says a grinning Brock, there are nods of endorsement from the crowd. The final track from Earl of Hell is the opening track from ‘Get Smoked’, ‘Hang Em’ High’. Inglis has a slide on his finger. He knows what to do with it, for a great intro along with Wilson’s rapid beats. The lyrics are quick, and Gordon has his bass growling. They finish with a big crash, and the crowd show their approval. They thank the crowd and walk off. I’m certainly going to be following Earl of Hell with interest looking for more dates.
These Wicked Rivers consists of John Hartwell (vocals/guitar), Arran Day (guitar/backing vocals), Dale Tonks (bass), Rich Wilson (keys/backing vocals) and Dan Southall (drums). Formed here in Derby in February 2014 and first appearing on the stage in October of the same year, this ever-popular band have a growing reputation and they produce a formidable brand of modern rock, influenced by the likes of Black Stone Cherry and Clutch. I’ve been fortunate enough to see These Wicked Rivers several times and they have never disappointed, always impressive. This is a real ‘Home fixture’, so I’m looking forward to a great atmosphere.
After a quick 15-minute change-over. These Wicked Rivers appear on stage, sporting a stunning collection of hats and beards. Dan Southall’s drums are far stage right, whilst Rich Wilson’s keyboard is up on the amp stack at the rear of the stage. We have an impromptu sound check and the lights go out.
Arran Day with his guitar slung low starts the riff for ‘Shine On’ from 2020’s debut album ‘Eden’, Dale Tonks is smiling, he’s enjoying it. John Hartwell’s sharp vocal is cutting through the smoke. Wilson is shaking the tambourine. Southall is smashing his kit as Arran Day crouches down low next to the crowd as his screaming solo fills the room. There’s a massive crashing finish. These Wicked Rivers have arrived. Wow! A great cheer goes up.
We’re straight into ‘Force of Nature’, Arran Day is stood on top of the steps leading onto the stage as he powers in. Hartwell on rhythm guitar supportive, as Tonks and Wilson take up the backing vocals. After a rapid fire of drums from Southall, the pace slows and entices Day to venture to the stage edge, he leans back points his guitar at the ceiling, kicks his leg out and dispatches his solo.
“How are you doing Derby?” asks Hartwell, the big cheer reply, tells him we’re enjoying this. It’s back to ‘Eden’ for ‘Evergreen’. Day’s fast riff starts the track off, the racing beats follow, I can sense the ‘Clutch’ vibe, it’s good. Day and Tonks are back-to-back leaning on each other, Day moves away to release another squealing solo from his guitar. Dan Southall’s volley of drums brings the track to a close. The crowd are really enjoying this.
Hartwell tells us they’re going to slow things down. It’s ‘When the War is Won’ from the second EP released in 2017. Day leads the intro; the rhythm section are pounding out a heavy bass beat. This is slower, gritty, anthemic. Hartwell’s vocal is passionate and full of emotion. Slowly the track builds, the pace of the nodding crowd increases in time. The conclusion is met with cheers and whistles.
‘Floyd’ is from the debut album, and probably my personal favourite. Slow, dirty and sleazy, a strong stoner sound. A powerful circular riff really drives the beats into your skin. Dale Tonks is ‘Rocking Out’ lost in the music. The track develops to a huge crescendo finish, with loads of amp wash. Brilliant.
Rich Wilson has the harmonica out as ‘Testify’ begins. This is also off of the second EP ‘II’. Southall’s drum beats are short and hard. Tonks’ bass is rumbling underneath the beats. Again, Hartwell’s vocals bring texture, Day grabs your attention as his solo carves up the room. Tonks is now pounding his bass with his fist. The crowd are punching the air, like they’re sparring with him. A huge cheer shows the band that we liked that one.
Hartwell asks “Who’s seen us before?”, judging by the screams, I’d say a lot. “Please buy some Merch, we want to make another record” he continues to yet more cheers. The final track is ‘Don’t Pray For Me’ which is on both ‘Eden’ and ‘II’. Slower, Hartwell is speaking the words, most people in here know the words and are singing with him. The sound is wonderfully moody. Arran Day is right over the edge of the stage for his solo. The guitars line up as the pace builds, it slows to a big finish, Hartwell takes us over the line as he sings the outro, the band then give us four. The hall is a deafening wall of cheers as the band wave and leave the stage.
These Wicked Rivers were superb, with performances like tonight, it won’t be long before they’re on a major headline tour of their own. Good luck with the new album. I know it will be a monster.
Setlist: Shine On, Force of Nature, Evergreen, When the War is Won, Floyd, T, Don’t Pray For Me.
Phil Campbell was the lead guitarist in Motörhead from 1984 to 2015. The legendary band disbanded after the death of founder and frontman Lemmy in December 2015, with drummer Mikkey Dee saying, “We will not be doing any more tours or anything. And there will not be any more records. But the fire survives, and Lemmy lives on in the hearts of everyone.”
In 2016 Phil Campbell formed his own band, Phil Campbell and the Bastard Sons, featuring his three sons; Todd (lead guitar and harmonica), Dane (drums) and Tyla (bass). In 2021 Joel Peters joined as lead vocalist. To date the band have released two albums and an EP.
Tonight’s Motörhead set proves that, “The fire survives, and Lemmy lives on in the hearts of everyone.”
The crew hit the stage ‘mob-handed’ and soon have it clear. A couple of mic checks, and a roadie signals to the soundboard with his torch that it’s ‘all systems go”. The lights go out, Deep Purple’s ‘Highway Star’ is pumped through the PA.
The atmosphere inside The Hairy Dog is incendiary. Phil Campbell appears stage right on a riser, the place explodes. He’s wearing a checked shirt and a beanie hat, it’s bloody roasting in here, but I suppose when you’re that cool you can get away with it. He plays solo, smiling at the crowd.
The rest of the band walk out onto the stage to a deafening cheer, there’s a few smiles and waves then we’re launched by Tyla’s riff into ‘Iron Fist’, the title and opening track from the 1982 album.
Todd foot up on the monitor starts us off, Dane’s and Tyla’s pounding beats are shaking everything. Joel wearing sunglasses is on the riser front and centre belting out the lyrics and encouraging the crowd with fist pumps.
We’re straight into ‘Damage Case’ from the 1979 ‘Overkill’ album. Heavy circular riffs and hard beats. The crowd are singing the lyrics. Phil is back on the riser, as his lead breaks trade blows with Dane’s drums. Todd, back arched has his guitar pointing at the ceiling as he screams out the solo. The wall of noise is colossal.
“You’re noisy tonight Derby”, laughs Phil, “Take it away Tyla”. Tyla’s bass brings in ‘Rock Out’ from ‘Motorizer’ released in 2008. High tempo, Joel is leaning over the front row cupping his mic as he sings into it. The brothers join in the chorus. Joel is up on the riser, punching the air and flicking his hair. The headbangers at the front, a blur. Awesome stuff.
We start clapping under the instruction of the band and Phil starts the riff for ‘Orgasmatron’, it’s the title track of the 1986 album. Joel is speaking the lyrics as the short riffs are supported by the crashing beats. Phil takes on the solo, it squeals through the marching beat.
Todd guitar pointing at the lights plays a great outro solo. Joel fist above his head is encouraging the crowd to cheer, pretending he can’t hear them, the crowd in here tonight would drown out an Avro Lancaster complete with its four Rolls-Royce Merlin engines.
From the ‘Overkill’ album we have ‘Stay Clean’, Joel is leading the fist pumps, the crowd are copying. The power is relentless. It’s crazy down the front, Manny has left pole position by Phil, and is stood next to me grinning. I can see his mouth move, but I can’t hear a bloody word. I think Dane is playing the drums with a pair of sledgehammers. It’s brilliant.
As I try to catch my breath and gather my senses, ‘Born to Raise Hell’ from ‘Bastards’ released in 1993 starts. A strong steady intro, Joel’s vocal clear and direct. The brothers coming in with backing vocals for the chorus, we join in. Phil walks to the front of the stage for his solo. Dane is keeping everyone in check with his powerful beats. We get a sing-back with Joel, taking turns to sing “Born to Raise Hell”, we’re pretty good, but he thinks we’re “Fucking awesome!” That was great fun.
It’s back to ‘Orgasmatron’ for ‘Nothing Up My Sleeve’. Joel tells everyone to give Tyla the middle-finger, then shout “Fuck you, Tyla Campbell”, we do as instructed, and Tyla’s bass intro catapults Joel’s vocals straight into your eardrums. Todd’s lead break gets the fists pumping. It’s chaos as the first mosh pit of the evening starts.
We’re straight into ‘Just ‘Cos You Got the Power’ which was the B-side to the ‘Eat The Rich’ 12 inch. Phil brings the track in, Joel gets us clapping, it’s a bit slower, melodic. Phil’s solo gets the horns up and the headbanging starts. The crowd are singing, and finish the song with the final line.
The 1991 album ‘1916’ gives us the next track it’s ‘R.A.M.O.N.E.S.’, the familiar 184.108.40.206. starts the bass and drums. Joel’s lyrics like the riffs short and fast. The pit explodes into life again. He’s on the monitors pointing in time as he shouts out the letters. Joel applauds those in the mosh pit.
Joel works his way around the hall introducing the crew on tour with them, it can mean only one thing. Next, we have a favourite, ‘(We Are) The Road Crew’ from the iconic 1980 album ‘Ace of Spades’. The story in the lyrics is brilliant. The fast riffs, hard beats and killer lyrics make the perfect track. The pace is incredible. Phil, now with his Flying ‘V’ rips the solo.
Phil is at the mic, “This one is for Lemmy, take it away Tyla”. The song that is instantly recognised by the bass riff that starts it, ‘Ace of Spades’ the album title track. As Tyla delivers ‘that’ intro, the place explodes. We know the words, it’s a 400 strong karaoke song, it’s a fabulous spectacle. There’s fists, beer and hair everywhere, it’s mental, it’s magnificent. Joel points at the crowd to sing the “That’s the way I like it baby, I don’t wanna live for ever” line. It finishes with a huge cheer from the crowd.
Joel starts the clapping, “I wanna see jumping” he screams. There’s a slight switch, but still Lemmy inspired as we have ‘Silver Machine’ by Hawkwind taken from their ‘Parallel Universe’ album. A rolling riff and strong drum beat get us going. The crowd are jumping and singing along. The cheers, whistles and applause rings out as the band leave the stage. A great way to end the set.
Huge cheers greet the band as they come back out. The air-raid sirens start, we know what it is, it’s ‘Bomber’ from the 1979 album of the same name. Phil launches the riff, it’s carnage in here. We now have a full circle pit. Phil plays one solo then hands over the duties to son Todd for the outro.
The fast-paced party tune ‘Going to Brazil’ from ‘1916’ is next. Joel’s lyrics are machine gun like as he fires out the words. The circle pit is going even faster. Those not spinning are singing. It’s electric.
Joel speaks, “It’s the last chance to go crazy, do you want to go crazy?” The Hairy Dog bites his hand off. Now we have ‘Killed by Death’ from 1984’s ‘No Remorse’ release. More frantic paced riffs and beats, Joel’s shouting the words. We’re shouting them too. Todd leans back into the solo. The crowd surfers take to the sea of hands. Dane’s salvo drum roll finishes the track, Phil covered in red lighting plays the outro and the band leave the stage again.
“Overkill, Overkill” is the chant. It’s not long before they return to the stage again, the final track is ‘Overkill’ the title track of the 1979 album. Dane starts, then Tyla, then Phil, then The Hairy Dog comes into the track. The circle pit spins into life. Condensation is running off the overhead air-con pipework. The set and the evening finishes, aptly it’s Phil who plays the final notes of the evening. The crowd chants “Hey, Hey, Hey” pointing to Phil Campbell.
I’ve been lucky enough to have seen Motörhead on many occasions experiencing the different line-ups. Of course, Joel doesn’t sound like Lemmy, no-one ever will, but he has proven tonight that he is the next best thing. The band played the Motörhead tracks like Motörhead did. Tonight, I’ve seen Phil Campbell and The Bastard Sons, and they play Rock ‘n’ Roll.
Setlist: Iron Fist, Damage Case, Rock Out, Orgasmatron, Stay Clean, Born to Raise Hell, Nothing Up My Sleeve, Just ‘Cos You Got the Power, R.A.M.O.N.E.S., (We Are) The Road Crew, Ace of Spades, Silver Machine, Bomber, Going to Brazil, Killed by Death, Overkill.
Photography by Manny Manson for MPM