I went up to the Finsbury pub in North London on Thursday to see a band called King Nun, with my friend Jon G and his son Louis. They’d seen King Nun at Latitude and really liked them. I was watching Marika Hackman at the time, but thought I’d go along with Jon and Louis this time, and see how good they were for myself.
The Finsbury is just by Manor Park tube (and Finsbury Park) on Green Lanes, a long road that takes you on a North London journey from Stoke Newington to Turnpike Lane. It’s well known for its Greek and Turkish restaurants – the Cypriot version. Something I can relate to, having lived in Cyprus for three years in the late 60s, and near Finsbury Park for a year in the early 80s. The Finsbury is a decent pub – rough brick walls and wooden floors, good beers (including Punk IPA) and very nice pizzas ,which we sampled tonight. Loads of people sitting in the outdoor garden, either for a smoke, because the weather wasn’t bad, or because it gets pretty noisy inside once the bands start up in the adjacent room.
The music room is a nice space – probably big enough for 200 people. A small stage. There were three bands on. We saw them all.
First on were Kid Wave. They played a melodic and dynamic rock’n’roll. Singer Lea Emmery (who’s Swedish, though the band is London-based) had a bit of style and a good voice. The lead guitar could have been mixed up a bit more, but I liked their sound. One to check out on Spotify and elsewhere.
Next up were Venture Lows. I thought they were American, but, in fact, they are from East London. They had an intriguing line up – a guitarist/singer and two bass players. Playing different lines. There may have been a drum machine thrown in from time to time, but, fair to say, it was very rhythmic – and choppy. Singer Hassan Anderson hammered out the words at rapid pace. I got early Foals, Talking Heads, Vampire Weekend, but also Sleaford Mods in the sound at various times. Jon suggested Joy Division later. Interesting.
Then King Nun. I’d checked out their four songs on Spotify and thought they were OK. Singer Theo had a high register scream and the guitars slashed around. But it didn’t truly rock – not listening for the first time. But I sensed it would live, and indeed it did! Theo had a few technical problems and got a bit stroppy about it, but I don’t think the audience minded. The riffs pounded, and the band really put their hearts and souls into it. It was an energising show.
The jerky riffs and Theo’s voice put me in mind of White Stripes from time to time, but there weren’t quite the solo guitar pyrotechnics of Jack White. They got a few heads banging at the front, and look like a band with good prospects. Listening to those four songs on Spotify again when I got home, they took on a different complexion. Harder. Nothing like a live show to enhance your appreciation of a band!
I don’t do it that often outside the festivals, but it is good to see noisy up and coming bands you don’t really know. They reaffirm your faith in the spirit of rock’n’roll.