Calling All Cars, Live in London

Australian three-piece kick up a storm at album launch gig

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It takes considerable self-belief, ambition, sacrifice and courage for a band to relocate to the opposite side of the world in order to chase a dream of rock n' roll success.

But that’s exactly what Calling All Cars did earlier this year, uprooting from their native Melbourne to the UK, just as fellow Aussies AC/DC and The Birthday Party did in the ‘70s and ‘80s respectively. It’s a bold move for the trio…and one which might just pay off, if they can carry forward the momentum, energy and spirit of this excellent album launch gig.

The Barfly’s Jubilee club has a commendable record in showcasing emerging bands, but precious few young bands on this stage already have the musicianship, songs, charisma and charm displayed by Calling All Cars. It helps that the Australian three-piece are no rookies – formed back in 2005, their debut UK release Raise The People is, in fact, their third album – but equally there’s a hunger to impress evident here alongside the well-honed chops which makes their live show so compelling.

Rather well-mannered on record, the trio seem to shed their inhibitions when placed on stage. In fact, they’re at their very best tonight when frontman Haydn Ing abandons the stage altogether and sets up first in the middle of the room and then on top of the Barfly’s bar. It’s hardly the most innovative tactic – everyone from Les Savy Fav to Baby Godzilla has pulled the same stunt here - but it’s a hugely effective and engaging one, ramping up the excitement levels and making it utterly impossible for Ing to be ignored. Similarly, CAC’s songs too are amped up in this setting, with the likes of Werewolves and Standing In The Ocean acquiring gloriously heavy RATM/Muse style codas which set pulses racing and heads nodding furiously.

With the likes of Royal Blood, Mallory Knox and Marmozets set to release eagerly anticipated albums in the coming months, it feels like the climate is right now for guitar bands to start making waves at radio again, and the strength of Raise The People suggests that Calling All Cars should be right in the mix. Much will undoubtedly depend upon the Australians’ capacity to hook up with a more established act in order to take their vision to rooms bigger than this storied North London sweatbox, but for now, you won’t see many sharper bands at this level.

Paul Brannigan
Contributing Editor, Louder

A music writer since 1993, formerly Editor of Kerrang! and Planet Rock magazine (RIP), Paul Brannigan is a Contributing Editor to Louder. Having previously written books on Lemmy, Dave Grohl (the Sunday Times best-seller This Is A Call) and Metallica (Birth School Metallica Death, co-authored with Ian Winwood), his Eddie Van Halen biography (Eruption in the UK, Unchained in the US) emerged in 2021. He has written for Rolling Stone, Mojo and Q, hung out with Fugazi at Dischord House, flown on Ozzy Osbourne's private jet, played Angus Young's Gibson SG, and interviewed everyone from Aerosmith and Beastie Boys to Young Gods and ZZ Top. Born in the North of Ireland, Brannigan lives in North London and supports The Arsenal.