Vandenburg Moonkings Islington Academy 24-04-14
First up were Slam Cartel who played a 40 minute 8 song set that drew from their debut cd from 2011 "Handful Of Dreams " plus a couple of tracks from a new ep due later this year.
Here is what they played
Handful Of Dreams
After the heavy riffing opener " Powerstorm " I was pleased to see that the rest of the set did include light and shade and also some guitar solo's from Damo Fawsett as I thought we were just going to get bashed around the head.
Singer Gary Moffat had a great stage presence and was thoroughly enjoying himself and had a witty in between song banter that endeared him to all. He had a fine voice too with the new song "Vanishing Worlds " the highlight of the set with an excellent riff , groove and chorus that should see the new ep as one to buy.
As the band finished with " Sundown " the band left to richly deserved applause that had grown steadily throughout the set.
Vandenburg's Moonkings played their debut UK show at Bilston the previous evening and this was only their 9th gig ever. I say that because from what I saw you would never believe a band so tight and full of joyous rock music would be this good so soon into their live career.
It obviously helps having a legendary player in the band and as the name suggests Adrian Vandenburg was back in London for the first time in many a year.
For 90 minutes we delved into his career with blasts from the past in songs from Manic Eden, Vandenburg and of course Whitesnake. But the corner stone of the gig was songs from the debut cd that was recently released and all of them stood up to scrutiny with flying colours.
Here is what they played
Line Of Fire
Leave This Town
Pushing Me (Manic Eden )
Superstition (Stevie Wonder cover )
Close To You
Judgement Day ( Whitesnake )
Burning Heart ( Vandenburg )
I Put A Spell On You (Screamin' Jay Hawkins cover )
Lust And Lies
Encores of Here I Go Again ( Whitesnake )
All Right Now ( Free Cover )
It was a real pleasure seeing the great man in a small venue playing with a huge smile on his face. He riffed and solo'd as he always did with a melodic stance to it and his obvious excitement for the world to see what a superb band he has got playing with him.
On bass Sem Christoffel who for a man so young was superb. Kudos go out to the sound man who made everything so crystal clear and we were all able to hear everything being played.
On drums we has Mart Nijen-Es who again for a young man was superb. They fed off each other and these 2 young men drove the band forward like 2 seasoned professionals.
On vocals was Jan Hoving who led from the front and at times was a vocal chameleon who has the blues, soul and tone of many men. At times he sounds like Robert Plant , David Coverdale with a bit of Paul Rodgers thrown into the blend leaving the first Jan Hoving. He gets on with Vandenburg like a house on fire and they again fed off each other and made for an incredible gig.
What about the songs ? Starting with my favourite of the cd "Line Of Fire " was just brilliant. Played slightly faster than the cd and with huge riff, pounding drums and a chorus from heaven what a start and with an extended melodic solo at the end from Adrian too. I did think at the time I hope it doesn't dip after that. Amazingly it didn't !!
The bluesy stop start riff of " Steal Away " kept the momentum high before Jan had us all asking can you " Feel It " and we all could. This was groove laden blues hard rock played at the highest level.
" Pushing Me " from Adrian's short lived project Manic Eden was greeted like a long lost friend before Jan took centre stage for " Breathing " with some superb vocals that showed every reason he was in the band as the band dropped the tempo for the bluesy ballad number.
Next up was a real funky take on the Stevie Wonder track " Superstition " which fitted in really well and great to see another style thrown into the mix and everyone pull it off so well.
" Good Thing "'s rolling riff took it back up a notch before recent video " Close To You " with it's stop/start AC/DC meets Led Zeppelin riff kept the level high before Mart showed his class with a short drum solo before he beat out the start of Whitesnake favourite " Judgement Day ". The crowd hollered its approval and Adrian hit the solo hard.
Following it with his Vandenburg hit " Burning Heart " from 1983 was brilliant again giving Jan centre stage with an excellent vocal and a short melodic solo from Adrian also hit the spot. Certainly one song I never expected to see played live ever!!
Cd opener " Lust And Lies " with its urgent riff and rhythm and great chorus was a great end to the show.
The band left to huge applause before returning for an encore of the Whitesnake favourite " Here I Go Again "and then the new cd's " Nothing Touches " with it's AC/DC riff and excellent slide solo from Adrian.
Adrian then told us a short story how the band had recently played on a French TV show and had to play a cover song and as the UK has all the best bands it had to be a romp through Free's " All Right Now " to the finish the show.
They promise to return and if they are this good after 9 shows more time on the road should make them even better which makes them a band you really should look out for.