Wham Bamm Rock n’ Roll Special, The Macbeth, 24 February 2011

Walk into Hoxton’s Macbeth tonight and immediately a few things are different. On the ‘give us your money’ table is a selection of Wham bars. On the pool table are lots of half-full paper bags of popcorn that give the impression of being half-eaten and cost 50p each. They sit next to some rather unattractive green nail varnish that is being offered for free, but no one appears to be wanting.

This is Wham Bamm Rock n’ Roll Special. Hanging out beside the popcorn is Gwilym Gold, lead singer of one of 2009’s best bands, Golden Silvers – so this night must be cool.

As our expectations rise we notice some ‘terms and conditions’ stuck on a pillar. They reveal that the band onstage, To Kill A King, are signed to EMI and are filming their video tonight. Now we’re really anticipating something good, and we start to pay attention to the ordinary-looking band.

Frankly, they’re mediocre. They have a few nice songs, but on the whole To Kill A King play fairly predictable indie tunes in an enthusiastic, yet unremarkable, way. You get the feeling they are still finding their feet and are unexpectedly caught in a whirlwind of hype.

And it seems they are the only hyped-up band of the night. When they leave the stage, it’s not long before most of the audience leaves the room. And rightly so. Perhaps most of the audience listened to headliners Born Blonde in advance.

As the room empties we stand blissfully unaware of what is to come, enjoying the between-band DJ set, which is delightfully dominated by Motown and big band jazz songs.

Again, a pretty ordinary-looking bunch of lads step onstage and launch into another mediocre set. That’s what you get for £5 these days. But as we listen, Born Blonde morph into The Verve. Their classic guitar band sound was unsurprisingly 90s in sound, but coupled with the lead singer’s slightly gravelly voice and riffs copied virtually chord-for-chord from The Verve’s back catalogue, they reach a new level of dull pub band. All of a sudden we wish we’d left with the rest.

To crown the night with an extra drop of disappointment, the excellent music we heard before Born Blonde is abruptly replaced with Fat Man Scoop’s Put Your Hands Up. And with that, we leave.


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