The Water Rats’ walls have seen and heard enough debut performances and accompanying shenanigans over the years to open up their very own gossip magazine, if walls could write that is. Judging by the impressively proportioned crowd squeezed into the pint-sized venue, tonight’s Bleach Blood (fronted by Jamie Jazz, The King Blues) debut was enough to get the concrete ears twitching.
After a much needed warm up (bloody freezing outside!) from support act Electric River, the North London boys opened with a couple of tracks missing from the EP, ‘The Young Heartbreakers Club’, including classically punk-pop ‘Pleased To Meet You’; jump-around-your-garage stuff for (almost) grown-ups.
Front-man Jamie Jazz bounded around the stage with all the energy and charisma of a fresh-faced teenager, but clear, sharp vocals and a watertight performance give away the professionalism and confidence lurking beneath, surely a hangover from his time with the King Blues. Clearly, he is in his element in his new role.
Next came the EP in its entirety, a mixture of post-poppy experimentation and old school party sounds; from the euphoric, ‘I Was Born In A Rave’ to the teasingly catchy ‘Let Your Heart Sing’. But the highlight for us was the simply lyric-ed, ‘Darling (Don’t Dive Without Me)’, with its uplifting dance beat and infectious drum build-ups we can already hear the banging of student-loan-funded-Conversed feet bouncing on beer-varnished Union floorboards across London.
What the performance lacked in length it made for in energy and determination: when the bass guitar strap snapped in the first couple of minutes, Jazz joked with the crowd whilst the boys continued playing. Strap or no strap, the show must go on!
Sing-along lyrics, stomping basslines aside, what makes Bleach Blood really stand out from the river of pop-dance bands flooding the city’s airwaves is the genuine charm that radiates from the stage. Old fashioned shout-outs to friends and fans and brutally honest song intros, “This is just about being a dick to girl, so we’ve all been there,” create an intimacy with the crowd that so many a commercially successful band falls short of. Next year will be an interesting time for this North London warehouse-grown experiment, but in the meantime, where did we put those Converse..?
Words by Kate O’Sullivan