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Concert Review by Mark Bayross

The Camden Underworld – Tuesday 11 June 2002

Tuesday night, and as part of Metal Hammer magazine’s week of sponsored rock at the Camden Underworld, PHASE9 has trekked along to the venue to check out some of the hottest new talent in the rock world.

The first band on stage – and unbilled, so a bit of nice surprise – are Fony. It’s easy to see why this young Surrey five-piece has been so hotly tipped. Despite their ridiculously young ages, they produce a noise of outstanding maturity, evoking in turns the power of Quicksand, the intensity of the Deftones and the experimentation of Miocene. Singer Olly is in possession of a voice that lifts the roof off the place and greatness must surely be round the corner.

Next up, Northern Irishmen Throat pulverise the crowd with a sterling display of twin-vocal led guitar abuse, displaying the canny sense of timing and barely controlled aggression that characterised their well-received debut album KNIEVEL IS EVIL. Co-frontman Willy Mundel seems incongruously jolly, especially when cheerily pointing out the shininess of Mike Barr’s new drum kit, but the music is wall-to-wall explosive riffage and the Osmond’s CRAZY HORSES sounds like it was written for them all along.

Reuben have probably enjoyed more hype from the mainstream press than the other acts tonight but their tight, intense power-metal more than allays suspicion that they could be the usual emperor’s new clothes so beloved of the NME. Gawky young singer / guitarist Jamie Lenman peddles a fine balancing act between self-deprecating geek and heads-down rock cool, but somehow manages to pull it off. With new single SCARED OF THE POLICE out now and an increasing number of live shows to their name, it won’t be long before Reuben join fellow Surrey new hopes Vex Red and Hundred Reasons in the limelight.

Headliners Wilt are therefore left with a three pretty tough acts to follow, but it’s a challenge the Dubliners are more than prepared to meet. Cormac Battle may have ditched the noise of his former band Kerbdog for a Feeder-style radio-friendly veneer, but Wilt’s forthcoming second album MY MEDICINE contains enough hooks and anthemic choruses to see them make a serious play for the charts.

Kicking off with ace new single DISTORTION, Wilt deliver a polished, confident set taken in equal measure from both albums. So alongside old favourites like OPEN ARMS, NO WORRIES and the storming RADIO DISCO, the band – augmented by new guitarist Derren Dempsey – deliver the immediately catchy newies to a rapturous reception. Best song of the show, though, goes to lead single TAKE ME HOME, a spectacular collision of fluid bass and soaring chorus that demonstrates just how far the band have come in the last couple of years.

You really can’t argue with a chance to see three shit-hot new bands and a headliner for whom the broom cupboard proportions of the Underworld should soon be a distant memory. In fact, don’t be surprised if all of them become massive.