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The Almighty

Artist: The Almighty

Venue: London, The Forum

Date: 2nd December 2023


"To their followers The Almighty were not just a band, they represented something much more than just music. They were the embodiment of Rock And Roll and their fans believed in them for what they stood for. Their legacy to this day remains completely intact."


 

The Almighty © Myke Gray
The Almighty © Myke Gray

The first time I saw The Almighty was thirty-three years ago at the Hammersmith Apollo. A memory of which I have total recall. I entered the venue to be overwhelmed by a thunderous wall of sound. Instantly my attention was drawn to the Celtic warrior who was standing centre stage, armed with a Gibson Les Paul. His eyes were filled with fire and he was playing as if his life depended on it. Thirty-three years later that young warrior is now a Rock legend. His name is Ricky Warwick. The original line up of The Almighty were one of the most ferocious bands I have ever seen. Like a freight train ploughing through a garden shed, they were totally unstoppable. On this particular occasion they were the opening act, but for the life of me I can’t remember who was headlining. A statement which should tell you just how devastating The Almighty were. But the big question of the day is how hot is their flame in 2023? I made my way to a sold out Kentish Town Forum to find out.


Walking from the station to the venue, I strike up a conversation with a man who was proudly wearing an Almighty T-shirt. He couldn’t contain his excitement as he told me they were his favourite band and that he’d been waiting twenty years for this night. He was not alone, as I looked around the venue it was clear to see that the people in attendance were not there out of curiosity, this was a totally devoted audience. To their followers The Almighty were not just a band, they represented something much more than just music. They were the embodiment of Rock And Roll and their fans believed in them for what they stood for. Their legacy to this day remains completely intact.


The lights dimmed and an enormous cheer erupted from the faithful. The moment that everyone had been waiting for finally arrived. Dressed from head to toe in black, Ricky Warwick strode onto the stage like a general about to lead his troops into battle. He has always been a star but tonight he had an air of invincibility. Over the years I have seen him perform countless times in many different guises, but for me he will always be Ricky from The Al-fucking-Mighty! But as charismatic as the singer is, the personalities of the other three members were absolutely vital to the band’s success and appeal. Drummer Stumpy Monroe is a force of nature not to be messed with. His phenomenal power was always the driving force behind their live shows and he was the perfect foil for Warwick’s raw energy. Floyd London on bass not only looked great, he played great and owned whatever part of the stage he was standing on. What I’m about to say might be slightly controversial, but for me guitar player Tantrum was a key part of their original sound. He always seemed very relaxed, controlled and unmistakably British in his playing, which for me was one of their undeniable strengths. Personally, I was overjoyed when I saw it was the original line up that reformed as I thought there was a magical chemistry between the four of them that was special and unique.


And so it begins… The band launched into ‘Resurrection Mutha’, the opening track from their debut album ‘Blood Fire & Love’, and within seconds anyone who had any doubts about whether this band could still cut it were completely obliterated. It was a truly joyous moment, you could almost sense the relief, not only from the band but from the audience. The power and intensity was just how it always was, but now there was a maturity in their playing that can only be garnered by experience. The Almighty sounded mightier than ever. ‘Over The Edge’, ‘Power’ and ‘Addiction’ were all belted out in quick succession. The audience were singing along with every line. The predominantly middle-aged male demographic were magically transported back to their misspent youths and were loving every minute of it.


Next up was a personal favourite, ‘Destroyed’. I have loved this song for decades and tonight it sounded better than ever. ‘Wrench’, taken from the band’s fourth album ‘Crank’, saw the crowd shouting out the line “whose side are you on?” in full voice. It was interesting to hear how Tantrum stamped his identity on the songs that were recorded after he left the band. I think it would be fair to say that their musical direction became heavier from the third album onwards and a little less Rock & Roll. But all the songs on the set list blended together perfectly for one cohesive set. ‘Little Lost Sometimes’ saw Warwick donning an acoustic guitar. This has always been a great song, but the musical maturity gained from singing for Thin Lizzy and Black Star Riders for over a decade took the composition to a completely different level. ‘Takin’’ Hold’ from the band’s third album ‘Power Tripping’ was another example of how Tantrum’s musical influence pulled the song back in line with the sound of the first two Almighty albums.


‘Devil’s Toy’ was the first song taken from the band’s second album ‘Soul Destruction’. For me this was the album that came closest to capturing the raw power of their live shows. Another chorus that had the audience singing every word. ‘Full Force Loving Machine’ is a song title that not many singers would be able to live up to, but it was delivered tonight with the same hot-blooded potency as the first time I saw it performed thirty three years ago. After such an intense song it was only natural to mellow things out a little. ‘Bandaged Knees’, also from ‘Soul Destruction’, with its acoustic intro showed they have always had depth to their songwriting. The musical respite didn’t last long, ‘Welcome To Defiance’ sounded absolutely monstrous and for me was one of the highlights of the set. ‘Sin Against the Light’ is another song that for me that encapsulates everything I love about this band. Pure unadulterated Rock & Roll.


‘Unreal Thing’ kept the intensity high as we entered the climatic build-up to the end of the set. I have always thought that the album version of ‘Blood Fire & Love’ was one of their greatest studio moments. A song that featured a brilliant string arrangement that gave it a true cinematic quality. The live version was as equally majestic. I believe this to be one of Warwick’s finest song-writing moments. ‘Johnstown Mind’ sounded better than ever and to my ear more Rock & Roll than the version that featured on ‘Crank’. Ferocious is the only word I would use to describe their performance of ‘Crank & Deceit’, and showed that the mellowing of middle age hadn’t yet begun for any of these gentlemen. They ended the main set with the classic ‘Free & Easy’. The audience sang every word and were almost as loud as the band. You could tell they were genuinely touched by the love and support they were being shown. They left the stage humbled but equally triumphant.


First back was Monroe who immediately launched into the thunderous drum introduction of ‘Crucify’. The band were now playing at full force. They knew they had already delivered the goods so everything from this point on was a bonus. Second encore ‘Jesus Loves You But I Don’t’ from ‘Powertrippin’’ sounded absolutely epic. Another song that was elevated to another level from the recorded version. No matter what they played, nothing was going to overshadow the song that everyone was waiting for. ‘Wild & Wonderful’ defines The Almighty. It’s the foundation that everything else is built upon. Its acoustic introduction played by bass player Floyd London lulls you into a false sense of security, only to leave you flattened when the full power of the band is unleashed for the second half of the verse. ‘Drive me fucking crazy won’t you take me high” sets up the anthemic chorus which was sung by absolutely everyone in the building. It was a truly magical moment. I saw grown men weeping when the house lights came on. I made my way to Camden Station surrounded by hundreds of deliriously happy fans gushing over what they had just witnessed. It was all very wild and all very wonderful.


The world needs The Almighty and I see absolutely no reason why they now can’t go on to be bigger and better than ever before.


 

Review & Photos: Myke Gray

 
 

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Chris Neal
Chris Neal
01. Feb.
Mit 5 von 5 Sternen bewertet.

A night I really wish I could've been a part of, and so glad to hear they are to repeat it in '24 and '25 ! Thanks for the enthusiastic lowdown, Mike !

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