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Radio Moscow /Ken Pustelnik’s Groundhogs at The Borderline, London - live review

Meanwhile, in Soho, 1970 refuses to die

Crowd shot

Thank Christ For The Bomb is a great album,” says Chris D’avoine, frontman of this version of The Groundhogs. “Which I can say because I’m not on it.” With three-quarters of the line-up having no connection with the band’s glory years, and none of them being Tony McPhee – only drummer Ken Pustelnik, who looks like a miniature version of Christopher Lee, played on their best records – you’d be forgiven for not expecting much from this support slot. And you’d be wrong. D’avoine is a manic presence, bass player Latch Manghat a whirl of swirling dreads and blurred fingers, and crushing versions of Soldier, Eccentric Man and Spilt, Part One rattle the venue’s newly refurbished rafters.

Radio Moscow don’t fare so well. The relentless, churning attack that makes their records so dramatic feels one-dimensional when the volume’s ramped up and the sharp tang of sweat stings the nostrils. And while opener Broke Down is a vibrant, spinning mass of Sabbath riffs and rattling toms, light and shade is only applied an hour later, during the slow blues of Deep Blue Sea. This encore also provides an unintentionally comical climax, as bass player Anthony Meier stands alone on stage, hitting his Rickenbacker against an amp to attract the attention of his bandmates, who remain in the dressing room, apparently unaware that they’re required back on stage.

Fraser Lewry

Online Editor at Louder/Classic Rock magazine since 2014. 35 years in music industry, online for 22. Also bylines for: Metal Hammer, Prog Magazine, The Word Magazine, The Guardian, The New Statesman, Saga, Music365. Former Head of Music at Xfm Radio, A&R at Fiction Records, early blogger, ex-roadie, published author. Thinks any situation can be improved by the introduction of cats. Favourite Serbian trumpeter: Dejan Petrović.