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Zodiac, live in London

Support: Beardmore

German blues-rockers Zodiac arrived in London for their biggest headline show in Capital to date but unfortunately the attendance was slim. But that didn't stop them going as hard as nails to those in Camden Underworld who turned up to rawk.

This gig is seriously empty

It’s 7:45pm and Camden’s Underworld is empty save for a few punters and the bands looking despairingly at the naked floor. Where the hell is everyone? It doesn’t seem to bother Beardmore who are cheerfully discussing the curse of living in Aylesbury, a town that has – according to them – one crappy music venue that looks like a “snooker hall”. Fifteen minutes later the band, who’ve only played a few gigs as Beardmore but have a history in other groups, start up in front of an illuminated ‘B’ they found in a skip, and play a set packed full of choppy, punky blues. They describe it as stoner blues rock but the emphasis is on quick licks funk-laden grooves. Think Clutch with a touch of The Stooges. There’s room for originality but when the pace slows down to psychedelic effect Beardmore reveal an expansive side to their personality.

Some you win, some you lose

Blame it being a Monday, blame a busy month of gigs or simply blame Zodiac’s lack of exposure but it’s with a heavy heart that the German headliners play in front of no more than 40 people tonight. On a scale of awkwardness it’s up there with accidentally sexting your mum. It’s not like Zodiac have never played London before; a while back their gig at Dingwalls in support of Orchid got them a bunch of new fans and their merch sold like hot cakes. The band’s excited ‘See you later London!’ post on Facebook, and the fact they have travelled from Italy, only compounds the pain.

Zodiac play in the face of adversary

To their credit Zodiac show no signs of disappointment. Frontman Nick van Delft, a big chap with an enviably long mane, establishes his rockstar persona with a few ‘Are you having fun?’ call-outs, to which we reply with as much whooping as we can muster to mask the crushing sense of watching a gig in a mortuary. Within two minutes he’s unleashed his first solo of the night and we all feel much better. This is going to be a good show.

Zodiac master the old school grooves

Deep Purple, Johnny Cash, Dire Straits and Graveyard… these are the ingredients that make up Zodiac. It only takes one listen to their latest pressing Sonic Child to gauge the sepia-imbued tonality of these rockers, rooted in blues and propelled by stirring classic rock riffs. Like Black Stone Cherry their magic stems from a voice that strikes the heart and gifted guitar licks that are mesmerising to watch. The slide guitar and astral atmos on A Penny and a Dead Horse is quite something and the double-axing on Neil Young cover Cortez The Killer is a real treat. Slow burners are buoyed by uptempo stompers like Holding On and the addition of piano and Hammond here and there keeps the set fresh.

Zodiac have a touch of the Barry Whites

Either they’ve been putting Viagra in the beer or Zodiac’s sultry tones are stirring something in the hearts and groins of their audience. Either way there’s a fair amount of PDA going on. I suppose that’s one way of encouraging the audience to reproduce.

With over 10 years’ experience writing for Metal Hammer and Prog, Holly has reviewed and interviewed a wealth of progressively-inclined noise mongers from around the world. A fearless voyager to the far sides of metal Holly loves nothing more than to check out London’s gig scene, from power to folk and a lot in between. When she’s not rocking out Holly enjoys being a mum to her daughter Violet and working as a high-flying marketer in the Big Smoke.