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Slaughter and the Dogs • Live Review @ the 100 Club

Having seen the band’s excellent set at Rebellion just under a week before, I had high hopes leading up to this gig.

In Blackpool, they’d managed to energise a crowd, who it’s fair to say, seemed as if they were feeling the full effect of a weekend of drinking and sun. Wayne and Mick have the camaraderie on stage that comes from knowing the songs inside out and having an intrinsic understanding of your band mate’s musical approach. They give off the air of a relaxed presence that only requires the odd nod here and there to communicate what’s next. Both gigs provided ample demonstration as to why the band retain such a strong fanbase. However, it was in the more intimate setting of a bustling 100 Club that I could really observe how well they function as a unit.

Getting things started for the evening were The DeRellas who was a quality support act. Their spirited Glam infused punk approach whet the whistle nicely. I think my favourite member has to be the bassist (Timmy DeRella,) who threw himself wholeheartedly into the performance. There were even a number of high kicks. The band sounded well drilled with an especially tight approach to transitions within songs. Musically, there was even a slight pop sensibility to their tracks. Though for the most part, they erred towards the proto-punk and punk and roll side of things.

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Photo Credit: Gary M. Hough

Throughout, the influence of the New York Dolls loomed large, both sonically and in their visual aesthetic. While on tracks like “Rock ‘N Rollercoaster,” they craft a fairly stripped back but tightly wrought sound that nods to the song structures of bands like the Ramones. The lyrics are relatively simple but the music is enjoyable, both to watch and if the bands’ interaction on stage is anything to go by, to play. By the end of an energetic set, the crowd were well and truly warmed up. In spite of playing predominantly short, punchy songs they allowed each musician a spot to come to the fore which worked well. This was my first introduction to the DeRellas, but they’re clearly a strong live band who know what they’re doing.

After a short interlude and trip to the bar, the place had filled up and Slaughter and the Dogs took to the stage. They kicked off with “Victims of the Vampire,” which marks a clear statement of intent. The band are here to play a full-on high octane set, no easing gently into the performance. It is a good track to start on, demonstrative of the fast guitar, not overladen with frills, but precisely executed that underpins the bands sound. Mick is clearly a skilled axeman but is sparing in his flourishes. There were no three-minute solos on display, thankfully. The rhythm section made up of Mark Reback and Dan Graziano, on drums and bass respectively, are tight throughout a set that doesn’t much go in for slow numbers. Wayne has a commanding stage presence and exudes the confidence of a frontman who knows exactly how to work a crowd.

This is particularly true with regards to audience participation. There’s nothing worse than an attempt to get the crowd singing along falling flat. However, when done well, as it was here it can really galvanise the atmosphere and lift the energy of a concert. The only slight exception to this was a moment in Blackpool when the audience seemed to have a brief collective attack of dysphasia when asked to join in on the “na na na” section of “Cranked up Really High.” However, this is forgivable given that the set was towards the end of the last day of a no doubt inebriated festival experience. It is also apt given the subject matter of the track. There were no such reservations at the 100 Club though and the punters’ accompaniment needed little prompting. This was true not only of the better-known tracks such as “Situations,” but pretty much all of them. Of course, it is probably their most famous number “Where Have All the Boot Boys Gone?” that generates the most animated response. A mosh pit formed at the front as the band really hammered home the track with vigour. Standing at the side of the stage I was able to see that a couple of fans were being perhaps a little overzealous in their appreciation. This left the lads unphased and they didn’t skip a beat, although Wayne did ensure that the mic stand remained out of reach.

The set neatly showcased how important the influence of Glam Rock is to the central blueprint of the band. It is detectable in their proclivity for large sounding riffs and resounding drums. Though of course, this is married to a faster delivery that is unmistakably rooted in a more urgent and punkier sensibility. There is an explicit acknowledgement of such inspiration in their choice of covers. One such example is the New York Dolls song, “Who Are the Mystery Girls?” The other being T-Rex’s “Get it On” (Bang a Gong). Both are handled excellently, exhibiting how pervasive such musical reference points are to their overall sound. Not that it is solely imitative; they certainly wouldn’t still be around if that was the case. In a set that seems to fly by they demonstrate how polished their approach is whilst retaining a slightly rough around the edges allure.

During the encore, Tony James was invited onto the stage to play on the final songs. Clearly another favourite with the fans, not surprising really given his stellar punk credentials, he was enthusiastically welcomed. He provided an extra guitar for a cover of the Generation X track “Ready Steady Go.” This is a clearly a crowd pleaser and leads nicely into the final song of the night “Cranked Up Really High.” It is a great way to round off what has been a top set and there is decidedly no reticence in singing along on this occasion. Clearly, Slaughter and the Dogs are a band for whom there is a lot of affection and on the strength of the two gigs, I got to see you can understand why. With that the band leave the stage, the audience gradually disperses and I stumble off to get the bus home.

Photo Credit: Gary M. Hough

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