Danko Jones owns London

London's favourite dive plays host to a rock 'n' roll hero

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Canadian podcast polymath and all-round king of post-millennial nuts-out rock ’n’ roll, Danko Jones only remains a cult figure – rather than an international superstar – because the masses are, on the whole, a cloth-eared lot.

The Underworld is packed tonight, albeit by a diverse and visibly non-denominational crowd that, we can only presume, have all stumbled across Danko’s life-affirming catalogue by subtle, under-the-counter means. What really matters, however, is that everyone here is well aware that the Canadian three-piece are one of the most ridiculously entertaining and exciting live bands on the planet and that Danko himself is a priapic whirlwind of charisma, riffs and lascivious charm.

Exploding into action with a triple-jab volley of The Rules, Play The Blues and Sugar Chocolate, the Jones ethos draws from the no-nonsense assault of the Ramones and Motörhead, but with vastly more lyrical wit than either and an underlying sense of metallic grit that gleefully betrays Danko’s own love of heavy music of all stripes.

Cramming 21 songs into an all-too-brief 75 minutes, Danko is on unstoppable, ebullient form, tearing from one side of the stage to the other with a massive grin plastered across his face, as long-time bassist comrade JC cheerily rouses the rabble and keeps the atmosphere at celebratory fever pitch. Whether pummelling through The Twisting Knife, with its audacious Maiden-esque refrain, inciting a deafening sing-along with Do You Wanna Rock and Code Of The Road or relishing the filthy menace of Invisible – “I’d break my dick just for you!” being just one of the delightful promises made therein – this is as exhilarating and unashamedly visceral as any extreme metal show and twice as convincing as any self-conscious retro rock crew.

A blistering charge through Thin Lizzy’s Are You Ready makes perfect sense: like the late, great Phil Lynott, Danko is a songwriter of great skill and originality, but he’s also a wide-eyed and wilful force of nature. And that’s why the roar that erupts after the closing triumvirate of Body Bags, Full Of Regret and Mountain is almost loud enough to bring Lynott rocketing from his grave to join in the fun. Gig of the year contender? You bet your (broken) dick.

Dom Lawson

Dom Lawson has been writing for Metal Hammer and Prog for over 14 years and is extremely fond of heavy metal, progressive rock, coffee and snooker. He also contributes to The Guardian, Classic Rock, Bravewords and Blabbermouth and has previously written for Kerrang! magazine in the mid-2000s.