WINGMEN / THE DUEL / WITCHDOKTORS Live! CONCORDE 2, BRIGHTON 29 January 2023
Three huge bands together on one bill! It turned out to be one of those “I was there” moments as Wingmen soared, The Duel rocked and WitchDoktors were top notch! Seriously good.
The review will go in reverse order: Wingmen/The Duel/WitchDoktors. Click on smaller images to enlarge.
We lived in times of lockdown crafted and après-pandemic music releases and projects. Live performances were illegal between roughly 2020 and late 2021, musicians had to get creative, online, streams from front rooms or bedsits. Unable to “get out there” to perform with their own bands. Baz Warne – The Stranglers, Leigh Heggarty – Ruts DC, Paul Gray – The Damned, and Marty Love – Johnny Moped hooked up online and created the band in front of us tonight. Rob Coombes on keyboards joined the line up in December 2022. So, here we are watching the Wingmen in Brighton on the last night of their first UK tour! Wingmen took to the skies bringing their new music , and maybe reflecting all the sounds and histories of those bands, together for packed out gigs around the UK. With more to come soon we were promised!
The set opened with a whoosh of smoke allowing the white spotlights to scan the venue as the theme from 633 Squadron played the band on stage. A wave from Baz and Leigh caused a huge cheer from the crowd. “We are gonna play a few songs from our album for you tonight as that’s all the stuff we know” said Baz.
Wingmen then opened up with Starting Blocks, The Last Cigarette and Louie Smokes The Bible. Oh my! The sound was pure quality from the get go. Guitars blasting our auditory systems, Bass guitar tearing through the air and a solid pounding from the kit at the back. We were served up with the first three tracks from the album. Were we going to get the album played live, straight down the line? The set list, back stage had given an insight that was not going to be the case.
I have seen Leigh and Baz many times in their “other jobs”. They worked tonight in total unison both drawing from each other to make those guitars sound quite magnificent. Baz was, as usual, on top form vocally and delivered some fine chat and banter. Paul Gray was well up for it as he poked the head of his guitar into the crowd as he powered out those fills.
A huge shout to Marty Love on the kit, he didn’t stop pumping those fills and patterns. An awesome display! The vocals and harmonies were so tight. Also a shout to the keyboards, played by Rob. When he hit the keys it immediately added a new layer to the sound. Nicely done all!
A cover of Bowies Hang On To Yourself was next, you see they were not gonna play just the album straight tonight! This was a real treat and I have never heard it performed like this before. It was sharp, punchy and fast! Wingmen chose a wonderful collection of covers – Hang On To Yourself, a reworked version of Kraftwerks The Model, allowing the keyboards to shine out played by Rob Coombes, and a white hot version of an old punk banging tune, I Got A Right, by The Stooges!
The set rattled at full tilt and closed with the last three tracks from the album, Oh! What A Carry On, Backstage At The Opera and as Baz pointed out It’s Raining All Over England.
Baz had made mention his parents had worked for the NHS before Down In The Hole and continued to express his views on this matter and demanded that the NHS got a well deserved pay rise. This Government are all c***s! Leigh mouthing both his surprise and backing! I think pretty much the entire crowd showed their solidarity and support to Baz’s statement!
Rob Coombes on keyboards joined the band officially at the Album launch gig in December , he played on the short 6 songs set that day and was then announced as the 5th Member of the band (although he doesn’t play on the album) he is the keyboard player in Supergrass and is the brother of Gaz Coombes (the singer) also the final song of the set Solid Gold Easy Action was segued into a slice of the Supergrass hit Pumping Up The Stereo!
I was lucky enough to be backstage when the guys came off stage! Clearly excited to be playing and then witnessing the crowd reaction as we watched the live stream footage on a monitor. Baz said, wait till they start shouting! The crowd did exactly that and then the Wingmen were back up the stairs for their well deserved encore!
I knew what was coming and so dashed back out into the crowd. Two sure fire belters were poured out, Do Anything You Wanna Do, that classic Eddie & the Hot Rods track. The crowd were seriously going for it. A few thanks from the band and Leigh powered up his guitar as an electrifying cover version of Solid Gold Easy Action by Marc Bolan and TRex. I had my fists in the air, along with the crowd as we joined in with the “Hey Hey Hey’s”. What a way to finish a set! Breathtaking climax!
The crowd filed out, grabbing Merch before heading out into the chilly Sunday night air.
I can happily confirm that Wingmen was not just an online created musical project but they have shaped it, sharpened it and taken it out on the road in the shape of an ass kicking good rock and roll band! Was there really any doubt about this gig? I doubt it. I think this may well become one of those “I was there” moments. Seriously good.
Wingmen are on the WWW here and have a Facebook page here. There is also a “fans” page here.
The Duel has a very unique quality to their sound. That Guitar isn’t so much played as churned up at times – and with the vocals and back track they’ll churn your insides with them as they play. These ears have not heard a sound like this in a while and it is a refreshing reminder.
Tara Rez – vocals/laptop
Paul Laventhol – guitars/Vocals
The Duel performed as a two piece in Concorde 2 places neatly tonight between Witchdoctors and Wingmen. Their set was made up of 8 Songs spanning about 30 mins. A meaty sound generated on that gorgeous guitar, the laptop providing a backing track and Tara Rez on vocals. I had met Tara before at a RUTS DC gig a few years ago, and have not seen her since, so it was a joy to see her again, this time on stage. Her vocals soar across the venue, punky and at times almost smoky, always in control. Marvellous!
I understand the set opened up with a new tune, Maze. I had not seen or heard much of the bands material until tonight, not seeing a set list, some of the songs covered were a bit of a mystery. The wonderful opener riff of Hold To Love was in the set with Paul owning the guitar work. Showing off that real punkier side of The Duel and the laptop started and then Taras vocals let rip! This song was a set highlight for me, I must admit probably because I knew it! Great stuff and had the crowd bopping along.
The Duel have a no rules approach to the sound they make. The musical vision they have for The Duel is described as “free spirited”. But punk rock is definitely what has inspired them to do what they do and pushed them forward. The sound generated tonight for the large crowd confirms that spirit as Tara and Paul pushed their vibe across the room. Fight On gave Tara a calmer vocal workout as the laptop fired up the backing and Paul wooing out the top guitar fret work that makes this such a cool track as it gets rockier.
The Duel receive great reviews in magazines such as Viva Le Rock and Big Cheese, and now Scene Sussex! They pulled in respect, admiration and no doubt increased their fan base. They play in a style that leans towards early Eighties UK punk and they do it pretty damned well.
I had been chatting with Kirk Brandon, who had The Duel on a support slot with Spear Of Destiny. In that wee throng was David Ruffy and “Segs” Jennings from RUTS DC. Therefore, there was a real supportive element in the venue tonight.
The set ended with Shadow Of Dreams. It was nice to see Tara and Paul clearly enjoying being up on the great stage at Concorde 2. Both connecting with an audience who seemed to be really happy to have a chance to see them play in such a great venue in Brighton! I really enjoyed having a chat with Paul at the close of the evening.
The Dual can be found on the WWW here. Find the guys on Facebook right here!
The WitchDoktors will see you now! and yes, that’s right, it’s with a K!
The WitchDoktors are:
Planet Andy Last: Lead Holler (er), Gretsch ‘n’ Gibson Geetars, loud attire
Tony Major: Geetars, B.Vox, Shades, Hat
Lee Page: Precision Bass plucking, B.Vox, shades, Hat
Joe Colfar: Drum kits. B.Vox. Wild wild wild youth, no shades, no hat.
I first saw and met up with these guys back in 2016 I think. I have lost count of the number of times I have seen them play and that may be due to the passage of time or copious amounts of alcohol imbibed at the time!
They describe themselves as “Rock’n’Roll Trash”. Deep in the darkest vaults of South London, The WitchDoktors have been honing their SuperPunkRock sound and shows, drawing on their 70s punk upbringing (Ramones, Clash, Pistols, Damned etc) and adding a good ol’ full measure of trashy rock’n’roll-a-billy, a dash of 60s Psyche-Out Garage, a bitter twist of country and whizzing it all up with some godamming loud geetars and a special brand of thunderous drums!
The mighty WitchDoktors had rolled into town, arriving in their supercharged Hypnosonic rock’n’roll mobile, with a new set of tunes!
The WitchDoktors took to the stage early, so it was a mad dash to get into the pit and prep the camera. Glad I got their early! The cracked open their set with Jack Hammer. Oh yes! Dokterin’ the house! Singer Andy Last, armed with his silver Gretsch, has a shed load of energy, charisma and charm. And he leads from the front!
Andy took time and introduced the band “we are The WitchDoktors – with an F’ing K”. Brilliant, as the band tore up ……… If you have not seen the Doktors yet, get yourself an appointment now! What a sound generated, and these guys know exactly what they were doing. Loud, fast and tight as. No slowies or “fillers” just pure in your face joyous rock and roll.
Drums sparked up and a gut pounding bass guitar line filled the room from Lee, No pain – No Gain just calls for audience participation, and they got it as the crowd joined in with the tag live! Tony, as always gave us a buzzing guitar break mid song, on his Reverend ‘Greg Koch’ Gristle 90, dark glasses reflecting the lighting and a huge smile Three songs in, I was exhausted. The room was steaming, in part thanks to the newly installed heating at Concorde 2 but also due to the crowd. My camera viewfinder steamed up! This was damned good rock n roll. The WitchDoktors had us; they were not going to stop.
The ‘Doktors criss-cross backwards and forwards through time, showcasing material from their releases including a blast of the brilliant title of their last album, Voodoo Eye, now that’s an album! The WitchDoktors are exciting to watch. They never let up and always leave you wanting more. These guys are the real deal with a fistful of great songs. The band give you a show that is dirty, raw and and delivered by an amp blasting out a fist full of attitude!
The set closed with quite a long foot tapping song, Common Prayer. Andy removed his silver Gretsch and grabbed some drum sticks as he and Joe gave us a battle of the drums. Brilliant. The crowd erupted with much cheering and applause as the guys left the stage.
After their set I managed a quick catch up with them, along with Monty from The Damned, and a great chat with Tom Crossley from The Phobics. He was thrilled to hear his name and a new tune played by the DJ Peter Fox during a break.
Hell, just go see them play! Doktors Orders!
WitchDoktors have a rocking page on Facebook – here!
Thanks to WINGMEN / THE DUAL / WITCHDOKTORS
And the Brighton and Hove News Music team
Thanks to Concorde 2 – the sound and lighting was incredible! Thanks to the great crew.
Words and photos by Ian Bourn.
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