Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Alexis Kings + Mashiri - Watford The Railway Club - Friday 4th March

Alexis Kings and Mashiri are the latest musical exports from St. Columba’s College, St. Albans. They follow in the long line of...err, well...Julian Peretta...oh, and Saving Aimee (although personally speaking I think the less said about them the better). Although some may expect a certain rivalry to have developed between these two bands, such competition has barely materialised beyond jokey banter and tonight’s show at The Railway Club in Watford sees the first occasion in which the two bands play together, at the top of the same bill at this charity gig.

After a few other acts, whom I’ll do the honour of not mentioning so I don’t have to be nasty about them; it’s time for Mashiri to take to the stage. They kick off their half-hour set with a top notch rendition of their original ‘hit’ “Banter”, a song that immediately gets the crowd going with its Rage against the Machine esque dynamics and its shout along chorus. Indeed the assembled masses, which were largely immovable bar some horrific eighties dancing throughout the sets of previous acts, soon spill into a fair-sized moshpit (blame Stuart Smith for that one I reckon). The energy in the room rises even further as the set progresses. A large reason for this is Mashiri frontman Danny Edwin who successfully goads the crowd into keeping the intensity going as the band roll through their songs. The rhythm section of drummer Hugo Beardsall and bassist Joe Clapham gives all the tracks on display the sort of forceful, driving foundation that all good heavy rock songs need. Having lost a little of their original Rage-esque dynamics, the quartet now have a sound more along the lines of more melodic hard rock bands such as Alter Bridge but also retaining some elements of classic metal acts like Metallica. The key cog in the wheel is guitarist Mark Goodfellow. His riffs are the missing link in all the songs and his solo in the penultimate song of the set is so impressive that at least two members of the crowd unfamiliar with the band approach him to congratulate his guitar slinging prowess. A rousing run through of the wonderfully fun “Yeah Roy!” ends Mashiri’s set on a high, with the mosh pit extending across the entire dance floor and including both Edwin and Clapham, the latter of whom leaves his bass onstage so as to dive into the crowd. The set finishes on a high and it’s hard to see how Alexis Kings can top it.

To be fair to the Kings, it’s hard to really compare the band with Mashiri. Whereas Mashiri are more of a heavy rock act, Alexis Kings place their stock defiantly in the indie corner. Whilst this may on the surface sound like a bad thing (I for one have a tendency to bash indie bands for being overly generic), Alexis Kings have actually managed a fair few songs of note. Kicking off with the instantly memorable “Niuq”, the band clearly has a fair few fans in the audience and despite the fact that they are not as heavy as Mashiri they still get a fair bit of movement within the crowd with their danceable, jaunty tracks. Singer Brendan Aherne leads the way with his vocals which gel perfectly with the riffs of lead guitarist Sam Privett and rhythm section of Rory McCarthy and Luke Carolan. Including a snippet of potentially the most famous song of the nineties, Nirvana’s “Smells like Teen Spirit”, proves masterly in upping the energy of the crowd and the band’s set gains even more rock ‘n’ roll credibility when it is curfewed halfway through the encore; the sound rig closing down and the lights coming on, much to the disappointment of the crowd. Despite not quite living up to the high standards set by Mashiri earlier on in the night (sorry Sam), Alexis Kings certainly provide a good deal of entertainment and if you like your music based around hooks and spiky riffs, they are certainly the band for you.

Mashiri - 8/10
Alexis Kings - 7/10

Mashiri go all psychedelic - reviewer's head in bottom left makes picture

Sadly that's not the sight of Hugo Beardsall doing a drum solo

Mashiri guitarist Mark Goodfellow rocks the fuck out (that's a technical term)

Alexis Kings: so cool they come in black and white

Yeah, ok, Alexis Kings are definitely more photogenic than Mashiri

Alexis Kings guitarist Sam Privett poses for the camera