Night Beats, Bullingdon, Oxford 16/5/16
“Rock and roll can never die, there’s more to the picture than meets the eye” prophesied Neil Young in 1979 but with an increasing amount of crossover acts with multi-genre methodology, bands who embrace the purist rock and roll doctrine do appear to be dwindling. Often the only groups still making any headway in the category seem to be a parody of their idols, adding nothing and merely highlighting the ridiculous gimmicks of a genre that contains the good, the bad and the hideously disfigured.
Night Beats however, with their blues inflected, sleazy, unkept riffage and sturdy, unrelenting rhythm section are a band who live by the same ideology of the early pioneers and perhaps have the ability to keep things dynamic and animated. Hailing from Seattle, the band are touring Who Sold My Generation, released earlier this year and incorporate perverted twelve bar blues narratives with refined yet dissident guitar solos and punchy, simplistic bass hooks to create something somewhat familiar but also definitively compelling. The guitar solo, used heavily in the groups compositions, is something that in this day and age can seem a little reactionary but by using an octave pedal and fierce pitch bends, there is a pleasingly refreshing take on a savagely flogged horse.
There is unfortunately a lack of showmanship which doesn’t allow a muted Monday night crowd to totally engage with the band although the approving nod of heads suggest that with a little more coaxing from lead singer Lee Blackwell, the ambience could have surpassed that of a poorly attended regional boggle tournament. The vocalist doesn’t unfortunately have the strength of voice or the haphazard antics to entice or enthral but the musical camaraderie of the three piece is enough to keep the evenings entertainment ticking over nicely, the band appearing polished and self assured throughout the hour long set. Their Bo Diddley cover Hey Mona was a nice, reflective touch and fitted effortlessly into their altogether wholesome and complete show which left a warm, fuzzy feeling that perhaps Neil Young was on to something.
One doesn’t always have to reinvent the wheel but rather tweak the design to produce something original and Night Beats have certainly created something relevant and distinguished in their pursuit of a rock and roll revival.