Photo: Georgina Sullivan
This abridged review originally appeared in the music blog Gypsy Death And You. For this and more music posts, you can reach their site with a click here.
Peace And Love Barbershop Muhammad Ali
Shacklewell Arms, London
January 23 2016
Words: Olivia Cellamare
The Shacklewell Arms is easily one of, if not my favourite place to watch bands. The drum kit is in a cave, it’s a small venue, it’s pretty sweaty and fortunately it is ten minutes away from my house. Oh, and most of the gigs they put on are free. The night before I saw Tall Juan and tonight, Peace And Love Barbershop Muhammad Ali (PALBMA).
PALBMA are one of my favourite bands to see live, and I think it’s because they make me want to start a band. I know a lot of what I listen to does make me feel that way, but it’s different with PALBMA. Maybe it’s because they make it look super easy. If Kim Thompson doesn’t leave you wishing you could play bass, then you were probably watching the wrong band. I saw them live last year supporting PINS at Oslo in Hackney, but I think this set was better because of the venue. This is the kind of band you need to hear in that kind of venue: Their growling, gnarly sound matches the venue entirely.
Their split 12″ with Druggy Pizza came out late last year, consisting of 12 songs by the kind of bands that were clearly made to melt the faces off, and fry the brains of, anyone who listened to it. To get this across at a live show takes some guts, which is probably why PALBMA managed to do it so effortlessly.
They were joined on drums by Sophie Galpin from PINS. If you’ve seen PINS live, you’ll know how fucking brilliant she is. But because the songs with PALBMA are completely different to PINS you get to see something else. It draws you in completely but Mark Vernon (ex-Brown Brogues), Dale C. Helen and Kim all have this about them so you’re really never sure where to look. Mark holds his guitar as if it is a machine gun and unleashes a fury upon us all. This is the kind of fury that makes you wish you could do it. Have a go.
The crowd were obviously having the time of their lives watching them, although it got a touch more rowdy when headliners Claw Marks came on. There was a lot of sweat. Sure London crowds do have a reputation of being quite uptight, but this was so far from the truth tonight.
PALBMA for me, are one of those bands who manage to mix everything I love about music and certain bands in particular to create something mind-blowing. Their live shows enhance the thought and care that goes into the music, and that alone sets them apart from other bands. The songs may be short but it’s enough to move bodies and deafen ears. They are gloriously loud, and it’s probably why they’re one of the best bands to watch. You kind of hope some 14-year-old misfit finds this band and is inspired to start their own band as a way of dealing with the world. The fuzzy sounds are ideally to be played as loud as possible, so your neighbour can enjoy too.
Going by their live shows alone, PALBMA deserve to be massive. Regardless of how long the band may last, I’ll probably be blasting out 'Pretend To Try' when I’m 80 telling kids on the street, “In my day this is what we had….”