Jacobi and Chemical Casino

Northern Empire Showcase
Academy 2, 11-13 Hotham Street
18th September 2010

Reviewed by Richard Lewis

Celebrating the third birthday of the Northern Empire showcase, tonight’s bill sees mod juxtaposed with classic. ‘Making My Way’, a distant relative of U2’s ‘Who’s Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses’ signals the beginning of Chemical Casino’s (pictured) set. Forthcoming single ‘Jackboot Boy’ stomps past confidently, following by the driving ‘Ten Things’. Sounding like something that could have been heard half a mile from here in Eric’s in the early 1980s with its Bunnymen-esque clatter, the tracks’ light and shade points up the effectiveness of the two guitar line-up.

‘Speak to Me’, replete with it’s spidery guitar solo midway through allows Mezza’s voice to stretch it’s legs, whilst ‘Soundtrack’ given extra four-string bounce by new bassist Mark bobs along infectiously, sounding pleasantly akin to Syd-era Floyd. ‘Stones’, towards the end of the set begins like long lost Blind Melon gem ‘No Rain’ coasting along gently before speeding up into a maelstrom, the guitars evoking the same kind of psychedelic blizzard summoned up by ‘Silver Machine’-era Hawkwind.

Concluding with a short end-piece powered by the same kind of skewed guitar riff The Coral used to specialise in, Chemical Casino’s dogged gigging schedule has clearly paid dividends as tonight’s robust display demonstrates.

Jacobi, kicking off with a Zeppelin style roar possess a frontman of rare Robert Plant-esque lung bursting power. ‘Suffer’, a ricochet off grunge lords Soundgarden has the same bludgeoning intensity as the Seattle band, complimented with an anguished vocal. Proudly wearing their influences on their sleeves, the group assuredly describe themselves as ‘progressive rock’, a term skirted around by many contemporary groups. In the present case it makes perfect sense as early prog rock behemoths like Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple mixed innovation and melody in equal measure. The classic rock component of grunge, as evinced by Screaming Tress and the magisterial Soundgarden saw a return to the booming hard rock of the 1970s with a tougher edge lyrically.

Sounding at points like classic rock revivalists par excellence The Black Crowes, the huge success of Kings of Leon may point the way forward for guitar groups in rediscovering the influences that the Tennessee quartet treasure so highly. The thundering ‘Fallen Angel’ sounds not unlike the brothers Followill mixed with Pearl Jam’s poppiest moment, ‘Alive’, whilst the occasional Kasabian inflections in their tracks point to a skilled rhythmic base.

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