CHEROKII/ BLACK CANDY/ BEARD OF DESTINY, PALADIN, Wheatsheaf, 18/11/17
Beard of Destiny are an act we associate with mediocrity, tending to slip into well-meaning but second-rate Sunday afternoon line-ups, but you can’t judge someone by the company they keep, and athis duo is one of Oxford’s hidden musical gems. Tonight’s show consists of thumping drums, blues-pickled guitar and a gold lamé jacket, and although the playing is pretty searing, the lyrics have a pier end cheekiness that makes for a nice change from broke down women and cheatin’ Chevvies, so that the Beard are a strange cross between Dr Feelgood and Chas ‘n’ Dave. Crowd-pleaser “Hubba Bubba” is basically ZZ Top played with the cool intensity a noughties math-schooled strings and skins duo, plus any band that can leaven serious blues licks with a song called “The Ghost Of Larry Grayson Perry” is alright by us.
Cumberbatch’s Sherlock looks at a room, and clues and associations flip up as text in front of this eyes. If he’d been watching Black Candy, the phrase “Rage Against The Machine” would have come popping out from every conceivable angle, until he couldn’t see anything at all, knocked over someone’s Green Goblin, and earned himself a sharp kick in the mysterious case. Because Black Candy’s strain of rap metal really sounds like RATM. Unless it sounds like The Beastie Boys’ “Sabotage”…covered by RATM. And whilst it would be easy to shrug off a band reuniting for giggles who were second hand the first time round, it’s impossible to deny that they absolutely, and incontrovertibly, rock like bastards. Flagrantly steal from whomever you want, boys, just keep kicking out the jams, and we’ll be there.
Cherokii are also a band for whom the pedal rarely, if ever, leaves the metal. We’re exactly 2 bars into the gig before bassist and vocalist Jack’s outsize sombrero falls casualty to righteous headbanging, and drummer Felix’s top hat gets tossed away before the song ends. And that’s what we want from a band like this, riffs, sweat, hair, and riffs, in none of which are Cherokii deficient. They even have some extra riffs, in case some of them party too hard and have to have a lie down.
As well as plummeting headlong, Cherokii are quite adept at arrangement, and give their songs nuance with a piccolo snare and a gloriously overloaded octaviser pedal, so the gig never gets homogenous, the amphetamine hurtle of “Shit Brown” balanced by the snakier, 70s groove of “Smoking Gun”, and there’s even room for a camply comic new song about identity politics and dinosaurs. If there’s one thing that niggles, it’s the relentless showboating; we’re all for a bit of theatre in our rock, but dragging a floor tom out onto a table, hitting it a few times then dragging it back won’t be giving Stomp any sleepless nights, and immediately siphons off the gig’s energy. A silly hat will do for the stage craft, lads, just stick to making that excellent noise.