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The Jazz Cafe, Camden, London

Andy Rawll: Photos by Eric Duvet

andy rawll

broken witt rebels

"Up the Rebels!" went the cry. The packed crowd at this iconic Camden venue had clearly taken this bostin' band from Brum to heart. With their infectious blend of sinewy rock and soulful blues and recent reviews suggesting that fans of Royal Blood and Arctic Monkeys might want to rebel, the Broken Witt boys certainly gained more converts to their cause with a fine ten song set.

Opening track 'Queen Bee' sets out their stall perfectly, with deceptively wistful opening chords giving way to a rhythmic blunderbuss of a bridge and vocals that wailed the raw gospel of being "down by the river, but I've waited for the sun."

The infectious bass-line that announces 'Cloud My Day' and is complemented by staccato guitar suggests a familiar brit pop groove but is transported to somewhere else entirely by Danny Core's almost spiritual vocals. Next up, 'Gimme Your Soul', demands instant attention with a swaggering Led-like riff that Jimmy would be proud of, topped-off by Danny's assured yet emotional vocals.

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'Suzie' follows next, offering an enticing southern fried blend of Latin groove and rootsy Credence swamp while 'Landslide' continues in a similar vein to 'Gimme Your Soul' but much heavier. We're hit with soul-versus-rock fighting it out for dominance with crunching riffs jabbed by soulful vocal counter-punching and powerful body-shots of frenzied blues rock guitar.

Another stand-out song was 'Better Part Of Me' with its swinging backbeat and twitchy guitar perfectly complementing an impassioned vocal exhorting: "I'm trying to start a fire in the cold day light". Looking around, the band have already warmed-up the crowd with smiling faces and swaying bodies throughout the room.

'Bottom Of The Hill' showcases the grittier side of Core's voice. Seemingly channelling Joe Cocker, with a little help from his friends in the band, Danny digs deep to relay the lyrics about someone adding fuel to the fire in a relationship. This epic tune culminates in a wail of feedback and as he screams "I light it up and let the flames grow higher" you really get a sense that the touch paper has been lit!

broken witt rebels

'Only I' harks back to the Rebels' earlier material and the first single they released and is now a fan favourite so gets a knowing and rapturous reception.

Best of all was 'Shake Me Down' and that closed the set. An anthemic amalgam of staxed-up soul and classic rock that urges "I wanna be your toy, you call me your little city boy". It's no surprise to learn that this track has garnered approaching 100,000 streams on SoundCloud and Spotify plays are not far behind.

Although Danny is the core of the band, this rousing rebel group has four strong musical leaders contributing to their beautiful noise.

Lead guitarist James Tranter has a powerful, subtle and inventive style. It's impressive that a player of relatively meagre years is able to pay homage to the sounds of old blues and Stax guitarists whilst giving them a modern edge that is not derivative but entirely individual.

broken witt rebels

The very stylish Luke Davis provides visual focus, backed-up by quixotic and harmonic bass playing that adds cool colour with bright hues to the rock and soul groove. This is all underpinned by Anthony Byrne's thunderous drumming that drives the infectious rhythm that's such a hallmark of the band's sound.

In short, a really impressive gig by a band that I expect to be playing larger venues before too long. Do try and catch them on their way up.

If you'd like to hear what all the fuss is about, first their excellent 'Howlin'' EP is a great place to start and available for digital download on iTunes and Amazon.

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