Live Review: Norma Jean, The Chariot, Dead And Divine and Admiral’s Arms – The Underworld, Camden – 03/03/2012

After line closures (damn you Victoria line) and then delays on other lines (damn you Circle line) I finally get my late self to The Underworld in Camden for a night that my friend had said would be ‘epic’ although I think what she meant was ‘absolutely bloody insane’

Despite the previously mentioned tube disruptions I manage to catch the end of the penultimate song and then the final song of Admiral’s Arms who seem to gain much more energy and an overall push for the final song, with the bassist throwing his bass back onstage whilst off stage. Pretty cool and visually, great to watch. However, this was just the start.

Dead And Divine take things even further. Much more crowd interaction and sing alongs from those at the front who know the words and a guest appearance of vocals from The Chariot guitarist Stephen Harrison. Front man Chris LeMasters is certainly worthy of the title front man, demanding attention and crowd interaction. Fully taking control and making sure they know exactly where to look. Similar mannerisms to Keith Buckley of Every Time I Die certainly come through (which makes even more sense now I know their old drummer is the current sticks man for ETID) before he throws himself into the crowd for the end of their set. A brilliant live performance that would only seem weak if one of the craziest live bands on the planet followed afterwards…

And of course, they do. The Chariot have a crammed audience at the front of stage before things even begin. Blasting into their opening song begins an onslaught of onstage, offstage and back onstage again as guitarist Stephen Harrison and bassist Jon Kindler both play at the back of the room before heading back through the crowd. It’s almost as though it’s a challenge for the the 5 guys to see who can do the craziest things. Walking on the ceiling, standing on the crowd and playing each others instruments seems to be just a normal Saturday night in Camden for these guys. A bleeding nose from a crowd member, a cover of My Generation and a depleted drum kit by the end of the set really does cement that this band are an absolute spectacle to watch and makes you wonder if you can get what they’re on for yourself. The Chariot are clearly worthy of the chants they receive.

Unsung heroes Norma Jean finish the night up with a solid set spanning their 5 albums, with a few songs from new album ’Meridional’ making an appearance. Despite their precise and accurate technical playing from every member, their set seems like a bit of a cool down from the insanity that was previous. Still, the band carry on and have a bit of onstage banter from looking through a girl’s bag and end the night on ’Memphis Will Be Laid To Waste’ but unfortunately don’t come back on for an encore despite having another song laying waiting.

The Underworld was well and truly torn a new one in several places tonight and all the bands have shown that a visual onstage presence and show is probably just as important as the music itself. Hats off to The Chariot though who clearly stole the night as we all repair and prepare ourselves for when they return to Hevy Fest in August for what will undoubtedly be a stand out performance of the weekend.

4.5/5

Words by Michael Brown

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