COLLATERAL - The Black Heart, London 07.02.19

JON THEOBALD

PHOTO CREDITS: JON THEOBALD PHOTOGRAPHY

You get a sense that you are at something special when you find yourself amongst not one, but two rows of photographers at the front of the stage and an almost packed room a good half hour before the only band of the night is due to hit the stage!

Tonight was the London headline night of the new-look COLLATERAL. A four-piece band from Kent, revolving around founder, lead singer and guitarist Angelo Tristan and whose current lineup’s output is a well-received debut four-track EP ‘4 Shots’, released in December 2018.

So well received in fact that when the lights dim, Mr Planet Rock himself, Paul Anthony, takes to the stage with the band and enthusiastically introduces them. Bestowing phrases upon them like “they are ones to watch” and will be “the next big thing”. It is reassuring to see the main DJ’s as well as the station get behind new bands and help propel them to reach their destiny.

As drummer Ben Atkinson counts them in to ‘Calm Before The Storm’ he starts a night of solid rhythmic support from the gloom at the back of the small stage. Angelo wields his black acoustic-electric guitar, the crowd start up and the set begins.

COLLATERAL have a sound rooted in the best of early 1980s rock, think Whitesnake, Bon Jovi, and Def Leppard as musical influences, but there’s more than a visual nod to the days of glam - with bandana’s and scarves meeting the ripped jeans and black vests of grunge too. It’s an edgier, more acceptable look and all the better without an inch of spandex in sight.

But back to the music – following ‘When Faith Breaks’ Angelo almost apologises for offering the audience a night of originals, but as they’ve (like me) probably had the four tracks of the only EP on repeat, the new material is eagerly received.

Through ‘You Were The Only One’ lead guitarist Todd Winger gets into his stride and the sound that is starting to define COLLATERAL’s space in the crowded collective that is the current rock market becomes clear. The blend of his electric and Angelo’s acoustic is very reminiscent of a certain American band’s famous front man, one of whom wore embroided cowboy boots too.

The crowd volume ups a notch when ‘Going With The Wind’ starts – one of only two tracks from the EP that get played in this hour-long tight, loud and thoroughly enjoyable set. Bassist Jack Bentley Smith has a smile on his face all night long as he drives the band through ‘Coming Home’ and ‘Move On’.

Talk of the debut LP excites the audience and the final half of the set comprises four songs which will appear on it. ‘Just Waiting For You’ and ‘Promise Land’ are followed by the very radio-friendly ‘Merry Go Round’ and ‘Lullaby’ wrap up the set.

The encore could only be the current single ‘Midnight Queen’. The version receiving current airplay has been remixed by Romesh Dodangoda and sounds all the meatier for it and will be a standout track on that forthcoming album when it’s released.

As some of the crowd head to the merch table to meet the band and the others shuffle out the door to the bar, the noise is all about what a solid night’s rock that was and the promises to see them again at the Borderline and Camden Rocks in the Spring … and I will be among them.

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