Random Hand – Camden Underworld

By paul

Friday 30 January 2009
Underworld, Camden
Support: Static Thought + Knock-Out + Moral Dilemma

Every so often it pays to hit-up gigs in London. Tonight is one of those nights when two separate tours collide, generating one hell of a supercard. Whilst Random Hand has spent a week on the road with Knock-Out, Static Thought has been traipsing across the country with Moral Dilemma in tow. At the Underworld all four parties combine with the result being intense punk-rock carnage.

Moral Dilemma returns to home turf but rather than receive a raucous welcome the band has to contend with the ?early doors slot?. With a few onlookers the trio rips through a frantic set of gruff, aggro punk, politically conscious whilst maintaining the ability to captivate. It?s a vast improvement on previous outings, testament to being out on the road for a few weeks maybe? (4/5)

Knock-Out has traded the sunny climes of Southern California for the bitter bone-chilling cold of Blighty. Crazy folk! The Riverside trio?s blend of reggae and ska-punk warms on this winter?s evening, and after a somewhat hesitant start the crowd starts to get into it. Buoyed on the band in turn reigns in the set and produces an impressive performance, juxtaposing the frenzied punk-rock with the sauntering reggae to just about the right levels. Almost unnervingly there?s even a mini stage invasion (that?s right, for the second band on!), a harbinger of what?s to come. A highly recommended performance. (4/5)

Any calm generated by Knock-Out?s chilled grooves is shattered by fellow Californian outfit Static Thought who incites the riot. The band whips the crowd into a frenzy of slam-dancing, stage-diving and rabid abandonment. At one point singer Eric Urbach is swallowed into the devastation. On stage the Hellcat quartet belts out short, sharp bursts of hardcore punk. It?s abrasive yet maintains enough melody to steer well clear of indecipherable screamo, ultimately proving to be enjoyable. (3/5)

As Huey Lewis & The News resonates through the PA anticipation fills the room. A sardine-canned crowd has gathered at the front of the stage and the second Random Hand hits the stage it goes off. If it is in fact ?hip to be square? then tonight?s headliner is the manifestation of a quartet of equal sides and right angles. Not to mention pounding drums, crushing riffs and fervent energy.

It almost feels like the Yorkshire four-piece has been on tour for years, which leads to an impeccable performance honed to precision. The fusion of punk, metal and ska (which probably shouldn?t work) is outstanding, derived from the same origins as Knock-Out only much, much heavier. It?s all part of the ongoing progression of a band that?s all too willing to put the work in.

Tonight is part of a near month long headline stint in preparation of incoming album ?Inhale/Exhale? and subsequently the set is made up of a mix of new and old. What?s intriguing is the likes of ?Roots In The Crowd? and ?Anger Management? are treated like old friends by a crowd that sings along to every word. Not that surprising until you factor in that these songs haven?t been released yet. Welcome to the internet generation.

The only down point comes during an encore of dusted off EP song ?Morally Blind?. A stage-invading Underworld mobscene rears its ugly head for the first time in a long time and whilst it?s all ?part? of punk rock the sheer number of bodies on stage makes it near impossible to continue. For a moment it looks like something?s broken but a last minute reprise means the show goes out with a bang of the good kind.

There?s a moment tonight when singer Robin Leitch describes the bill as a US sandwich, which whilst funny on the surface actually bares witness to something much more poignant: all too often the UK is left in the shadow of it?s overseas cousin but tonight against strong competition, in both performance and audience numbers, Random Hand is king. This alone goes a long way to proving just how strong the UK scene is right now. (5/5)

Alex Hambleton