Islington’s O2 Academy, situated in a shopping centre in the newly-revitalised Angel area of North London, can be a rotten, soulless place to play – especially when the head count in front of the stage is low, so it’s a delight to find, when Sentinel Daily strolls into the venue just as Sweden’s funk metal ambassadors Electric Boys take the stage, that there will be no such problems tonight. The dance floor is almost rammed, the air alive with an expectant buzz, the sort of buzz you only get from an audience that knows it’s in for a bit of a treat.
Led from the front by the effortlessly cool Conny Bloom, Electric Boys don’t disappoint. In a taut, well-structured ten song set the band leaves all flab at the stage door and delivers prime cuts such as All Lips and Hips, Captain of my Soul and Mary in the Mystery World with studied brillance and easy showmanship, leaving the two blokes stood in front of your reviewer to muse, out loud, that tonight’s main event would have some trouble following what they’d just witnessed.
They were wrong, of course; Opening with a blazing take on Resurrect from their 1988 debut, the band (all still present and correct from that debut save for keyboardist Blake Sakamoto, replaced now by longtime Reed solo sideman Rob Daiker) proceed, over the course of a fabulously paced set, to remind us just why we loved them nearly thirty years ago and why, if they’ll let us, we’ll love them all over again. Dan Reed the man is a consummate performer, sometimes teetering on the edge of ham without ever really toppling into the schmaltz abyss, whilst his two out-front wingmen, guitarist Brion James and Melvin Brannon (bass) both have the chops and the charisma to live with their more illustrious leader in a performance sense; The lugubrious Brannon in particular almost steals the show on a number of occasions, whilst the more showy James peels off a series of blistering solos to augment his crunching, clipped riffwork that keeps the punters entertained throughout.
There are no real low points, although Reed’s duet with up-n-coming songstrel Soheila Clifford on Stronger Than Steel does break up the momentum created by such classics as Forgot to Make Her Mine and Rainbow Child a little bit; However that’s just a minor quibble and when he band deliver a faultless version of Ritual four songs later the night is unequivocally theirs. Tour mates The King Lot and Electric Boys are rolled out for a ramshackle, all-mates-together take on Get to You the set proper draws to a close, but then the Network return on their own for a three song encore climaxing with a geographically-apposite Seven Sisters Road and normal, stunning service is resumed, leaving a satiated bunch of punters to flood out into the unseasonably-warm Islington night glowing with happiness and a little bit of funk in their steps. Marvellous stuff.
Photo courtesy of Dave Craig/Metaltalk.net