THE VINTAGE CARAVAN / NAKED SIX - Borderlines, London 10.11.18



It seems bizarre saying that a band has grown by 50% since you saw them last but when it’s a duo moving to a trio it seems to make sense! NAKED SIX are (now and again) a three-piece band originally hailing from York – now based in Manchester. They opened for the Temperance Movement on some of their Small Rooms tour last year and wowed many of the crowds with their loud, no-nonsense, did I say loud ? approach to rock.

Guitarist and vocalist Seb Byford (yes, you have heard that name before and yes, he is Seb’s dad) and drummer Tom Witts have been joined by Tom’s cousin Callum Witts (who replaced original bassist Caleb Quale). The set, which amply demonstrates some of the young band’s influences including Led Zeppelin, Cream and Queens of the Stone Age, contained mostly unreleased songs, despite releasing a new five-track EP a couple of weeks ago.

Opening with ‘Writing on the Wall’, and looking like he’s stepped off the set of Clockwork Orange, the bowler-hatted Seb launches into his trademark DM-booted stage stomp and Tom his power-drumming – personally the addition of Callum’s basslines adds a richer sound and melody that was missing when I saw them as a Royal Blood/Graveltones-style duo. ‘No Compromise’ from the EP was closely followed by ‘Unwind’ and the point of the show where Tom removes his t-shirt and assumes the moniker “Naked Six-Pack”.

‘Ain’t Got No Friend’ is followed by ‘Heartbrake’ and ‘What The People Say’ before they slow things down with another new song, “this is about Manchester and what’s been happening there …” Seb says poignantly about his newhome town, before opening ‘Everything Changing’. It is easy to forget that Seb and Tom have only been playing seriously together for about three years as they kick the beat back up to 11 with ‘Slave’ and ‘Don’t Mind’ before closing the set out with ‘Peace By The Pistol’.

The hardworking trio are shortly going back out with the Amorettes for a few dates up and down the country at the end of the month. Catch them if you haven’t already.

One advantage of being a three-piece band, preceded by a three-piece is that the stage changeover takes almost no time at all! Which was good for the now thoroughly warmed-up and busy Borderline crowd – who even helped at the soundcheck by testing their vocal chords alongside TVC lead singer/guitarist Óskar Ágústsson, responding to all his callouts Freddie-style.

When the lights dimmed and new song ‘Set Your Sights’ started the whole audience started up too. It’s been a while since the Icelandic rockers, including bassist Alexander Númason and drummer Stefán Stefánsson, were in town and everyone wanted to make the most of set-time before the curfew.

With the current tour promoting the new album ‘Gateways’, the set covered all four TVC albums, with the older ‘Crazy Horses’, ‘Let Me Be’ and ‘Midnight Meditation’ dispatched in quick order before Óskar took a break between songs to talk to the crowd. ‘On The Run’ was dedicated to Ian Davenport and the audience were invited to look in the deeper corners of YouTube to look for the recently released video for next track ‘Reset’.

It was interesting to see a headline band guitarist stick with a single guitar for the whole set, but it looks like Óskar’s battered Telecaster has been with him since the band began. Having the whole of the new-ish Borderline stage to themselves meant there was plenty of space for Óskar to work the crowd, running left and right playing some well-received solos.

Synchronised headbanging was the order of the day as ‘Babylon’ started and continued through into ‘Cocaine Sally’. Alex’s heavy bass riffs were nicely contrasted with delicate harmonies picked by Óskar during ‘Innerverse’.

Both guitarists seemed to spend more time standing on the monitor speakers than the stage, and infectious night-long smiles from both Alex and Stefán showed how much they were enjoying the show, despite having been on the road for a month already. The multi-national audience included fans from Finland, Denmark and even a few that made their way down from Hard Rock Hell in Wales the night before!

Alex got to stretch his fingers even more as bass solos were prevalent in the final songs of the set ‘Carousel’ and ‘Expand Your Mind’, the latter introduced by a drum solo from Stefán, whilst Óskar tried not to smack his guitar on the low ceiling, as they wound the stage antics up to the last ringing note.

An unusual but well received first encore track followed – Fleetwood Mac’s ‘The Chain’ – which they covered on the new album as well. Normal TVC stoner/psychedelic/blues/rock service was resumed with the final track of the night ‘M.A.R.S.W.A.T.T.’ and Óskar deciding to make the most of the lack of headroom by rubbing his Telecaster neck across the ceiling-slung PA to induce some crowd-pleasing feedback to end the hot, sweaty, heavy night.