LIVE: Raging Speedhorn / Stone Ghost @ The Underworld

By Dave Bull

Raging ‘fuc****’ Speedhorn, Corby’s answer to the Jagerbomb had seemingly died a post noughties death, much like many other bands that rode the wave of Nu-metal and it’s counterparts. However, many years on, they are back, with a new album and tonight the closing show of a nine date tour at Camden’s Underworld. Tonight’s show is cause for mild optimism and nostalgically is great to hear that dual vocal attack from their first album ‘Raging Speedhorn’ that got heads turning over 15 years ago.

London’s Stone Ghost provide half an hour of reasonably uneventful and quite dull rock n’ roll, the most interesting moments coming from vocalist Jason Smith and his crutch, which he seems to enjoy playing like an air guitar, whilst drinking a bottle of beer. To be fair to him, his voice is strong and holds various harmonies and higher parts well, whilst also possessing a raucous and upbeat rock voice which delivers as expected. Musically they are predictable and they fail to produce very little that excites.

Before Raging Speedhorn enter tonight’s proceedings, Frank Regan appears on stage, seemingly off his tree, a mix of what he describes as nine days on tour with drink and drugs, but also claims he has had his drink spiked (oh yeah, that old chestnut). Despite this, he is on piste vocally and with the ferocity of co-vocalist John Loughlin, tonight begins to look more worth the journey into London.

The band burst back to life as a band with ‘The Hate Song’, which perfectly highlights the throaty roar of Regan and the pure aggression of Loughlin. It is what drove the band in their heigh day and is what will, if there is room, allow them to nestle back in the scene.

There is however a noticeable change in direction in their new material with ‘Bring Out Your Dead’ feeling more stoner esque, with a doomy, mesmeric beat. ‘Motorhead’ is not such an instant winner, and shows a lack in ingenuity, the riffs bland and the breakdowns predictable before ‘Dog Shit Blues’ shows a further glimmer of promise, the harmonised dual vocal parts excellently delivered, despite the levels of intoxication. The crowd have obviously bought the new record ‘Lost Ritual’ as there is no let up in tempo between old and new, and for the die hard fan, it is just great to have the mighty Speedhorn back.

Things go a bit nuts for ‘Red Weed’, an old classic from their debut, but it does feel like this gig would have been more successful had it been downsized as the underworld begins to feel a bit too spacious. ‘Dungeon Whippet’ another oldie keeps the energy high and for the old school fans, tonight feels like it’s the early 2000’s again.

‘Knives and Faces’ has a fantastic chorus with a demonic growl that always used to get the blood pumping and the breakdown part way through is serious in its ferociousness.

Sadly there is no playing of ‘The Gush’ which was arguably their best song, but ‘Thumper’ does enough to remind everyone that Raging Speedhorn are well worth the entry fee for nostalgia alone. Whether there is enough within their new material to warrant agreement that there is still a place in the scene for them today is more debatable. But they will certainly get some gigs out their reinvention, and several festival appearances this year for certain.

And hats off to them. Everything they are doing is D.I.Y. and that’s commendable. They are returning to something they once loved, and were pretty decent at. Even if ‘Lost Souls’ does leave you feeling a little empty. Just make a mix tape of some of the older aforementioned song, and whoever sorts the tours out, perhaps pick a venue that is more fitting and get the place packed to the rafters.