Words & Photography by Paul Boyling
Though not officially a part of the Independent Venue Week campaign, a nice gig I thought to end this prestigious week was at one of London’s oldest pubs, The George Tavern. A quaint time capsule off Commercial Road, that perfectly encapsulates the 1970s – yellowy orange lighting, teal green leather upholstery, dark wood panelled walls and tiles aplenty. Its relaxed atmosphere and wholesome service would soon be a paradoxical location for what was about to occur.
Daniel Armstrong was onstage when I arrived (during the last two songs of his set), a serviceable one-man-and-his-guitar folk act; reminiscent of Chris Martin from Coldplay. He was alright as a laid-back, chilled-vibe act for a quiet Sunday night in Shadwell. However, next up, Mur-Man; who at first seemed like an unassuming indie pop band, until lead vocalist and guitarist Jules Bellamy suddenly strummed his guitar and began wiggling about onstage like a young Elvis Presley; apologising to the audience in advance for being “a loud band stuck in a quiet place”, bursting into a quick solo – a booster shot of energy to liven up the mostly docile crowd; a shock to the senses to the most lethargic members. Their blend of scuzzy guitar riffs, echoing basslines and upbeat indie rhythms got the most stubborn of toes tapping (think Stone Roses meets Arctic Monkeys). Stand out songs include their newest single, ‘Trearddur Bay’ (making its live London debut) and their other single, the infectious ‘Christian Boys’.
Finally, Zanibar Aliens. Immediately as the Lisbon-based quartet took to their instruments, a small but increasing number of young, attractive women flocked to the front of the stage, much to the surprise to myself and the band alike. Nonetheless, their sound blends the best of Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Creedence Clearwater Revival and The Doors; that distinctive turn of the 1960s classic rock sound, funnelled and focused through 21st century experimentation and refined studio techniques, resulting in a contemporary mix of psychedelia and blues-based hard rock, that kept the crowd pumping. Lead vocalist Karl Karlsson is a blend of the best attributes of Robert Plant, Roger Daltry and Jim Morrison; with the keyboard playing skills of Ray Manzarek to boot. Guitarist Filipe Karlsson had the effortless cool and reserved, charismatic shredding of Tony Iommi; contrasting the frantic thrashing and headbanging of bassist Ricardo Pereira, and drummer Diogo Braga. He went topless halfway through the set, to the joy and cheers of the female patrons upfront. Nevertheless, their set was outstanding from start to finish, and captivating in between; all of which can be found here.
Zanibar Aliens, and Mur-Man for that matter, were two quality acts that did more than justice for a less-than fifty people turn out – they were far too good to go unnoticed on a Sunday night; ending this week on more than a just a satisfying high note. The fact I was humming both bands’ songs on the night bus home must be a good sign of leaving a good impression.
By Paul Boyling