Walking up the heavily graffittied stairs to the venue, it’s a relief just to receive a red dot on the back of the hand. The homely red carpet and comfy chairs only provide respite for so long before Dragoneye Morrison open their set with ‘Loot’. An opener in every sense of the word, the growled refrain ‘I’m going to hit you’ describes the punch and energy of their set perfectly.
With a guitarist seemingly possessed by the spirit of rock and roll itself, the crunching riffs don’t give you an opportunity to move your attention from the stage. It’s no surprise to discover later that the band recently won the Portsmouth Battle of the Bands competition, even Nelson’s famous Victory couldn’t match this lot for firepower.
U fear… the drummers T-shirt seems apt, given that the ‘curse of this venue’ first becomes apparent with some problems with the amps and micstands. Undeterred the band press on with an impromptu instrumental interlude before advising that ‘noone likes you because you’re a mutant’. Swapping vocalists to great effect, the dark riffs bounced around the venue with glee. Perhaps the mutant heard because the next song was delayed by further technical problems. The reaction from the crowd: ‘You’re teasing me now’.
An apt response as after the initial pummelling of the opening numbers, ‘Solidus’ sees the tempo drop down, a low key build up to ‘Silver Bullet’; a song that would sound perfect pounding out of the speakers of your local multiplex. You know the scene, the bad guy weaving through traffic oblivious to the concepts of speed limits, one way traffic, readings and pedestrian right of way. You know the song; one of those you can’t get out of your head for weeks and pray that it crops up on the soundtrack. The song builds up to a sudden segue into ‘Leader of the Pack’ and while the familiarity of the Gary Glitter track may seem reassuring, the curse of the venue continues with half of the backdrop parting company with the wall.
‘Out of Time’ isn’t a tribute to REM, unless Michael Stipe has reinvented himself as a forlorn lover, planning to stab his ex-lover in the throat while gargling razorblades. Again, Dragoneye Morrison use tempo changes and vocalist changes well, with new track ‘I am Hell’, reminiscent of something Lemmy would be proud to belt out of a Marshall stack.
Closing the brief set with ‘Nothing Without You’, we are informed that the eternal question of how can a love affair continue is best answered by arranging for that special someone to bleed, preferably while you’re watching. It’s an unusual answer but fits the music perfectly, a mid section charge reminiscent of the Refused at their finest sees mic stands flying and a guitar coming close to being turned into matchsticks before being neatly hung from the amp. As the guitarist asks the audience for a light, you feel like lobbing a flame-thrower on stage to help him finish the guitar off.
The band are planning to record in the studio soon and it will be interesting to see how this excellent live set translates to CD.