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ICE BLACK BIRDS / HOLDEN @ laissez faire club, Catch, Kingsland Rd, East London

January 26th 2011

 Cold cold January Wednesday night, who in their right mind wants to be at a gig on a night like this? 

The Holden Brothers and their band are clearly still recovering from last night’s Burns night as they pass the whisky bottle around. Holden are on early, apparently their gigs are always well attended and the audience/band interaction always lively, apparently I’m seeing them on a bad night tonight. There’s not many in and the sound is dreadful - is there a sound engineer in the building?  This London (via Dalkeith, Edinburgh) four piece are fighting the elements tonight but there’s some good songs trying to break out here, good songs being played by a band with classic rock personality, with a touch of folk rock to then. Indeed it should be taken as compliment that their Bert Jansch cover is not the highlight of their relatively short set. There’s some kind of classic rock thing going down: Gram Parsons, Roger McGuinn, a Celtic folk rock undercurrent going down; mostly there’s some really strong songs going down, a hint of Drive By Truckers in those guitar moves. They’ve got a dual acoustic/electric guitar thing, impressive playing, solid rhythm section and clearly a country flavoured, folk-tinged classic rock band to go see somewhere that isn’t a cold wet slightly hungover January Wednesday night in a not very busy East London venue above a pub

    The place does fill up a little by the time Ice Black Birds come on. A little bit more atmosphere in Catch now, and somewhere in a parallel universe, rather than playing half full pub venues on a Wednesday night, this band are playing stadiums on bills somewhere between The Cars and classic 1978 new wave Rolling Stones. Frontman Sam Denniston is clearly a star in waiting. Ice Black Birds are cooking up late 70’s new wave blues flavoured rock ‘n roll that can’t help but demand you drift to the front and pay full attention to their songs and their bags of style. They claim to mostly be playing new songs tonight, don’t ask these ears, never heard them before, got my attention though.     
    Slightly pointy new wave post-punk pop rock, stick whatever label you want on it really, just good songs, great frontman, band full of personality and I really don’t want to send you off to their My Space where things sound so flat and politely insipid compared to the rather confidently spiky live experience that brought an evening to life tonight. 

See, always worth letting someone drag you to a gig on a cold wet Wednesday night in January….

Sean Organ

Catch Bar, 22 Kingland Rd E2 8DA