Tonight’s gig forms part of the inaugural Independent Venue Week – 18 gigs across the UK in 6 days - with backing from the likes of Radiohead’s Colin Greenwood (this year’s ambassador), Domino Records and Jack Daniel’s.
The Stones, Small Faces, Elvis Costello and Kate Bush have all graced the stage at The Half Moon in decades past, but sadly in recent years it has hosted mainly only trad blues, folksters and tribute bands – an inevitable shift, perhaps, to help sustain a business languishing in the cultural tundra that is Putney; thankfully the acts tonight promise to fill this very decent, 250-capacity room with the level of noise and atmosphere it deserves.
First up are the Amazing Snakeheads; a newly-signed, Glaswegian three-piece who have been described as “gnarled rockabilly”; and the opening, 60-odd second blast of ‘Testifying Time’ is an effective, snarling, declaration of intent. Sadly every song that follows is an empty, tuneless vessel that is neither rockabilly nor punk; just odd. They’re loud but not particularly angry, and fast-paced without being the least bit thrilling.
To be fair, there are those in the crowd who clearly love it; and if you subscribe to the idea that sporadic yelling over clatter constitutes the passion of champions, the Amazing Snakeheads are definitely for you; ultimately the room is split between the passion finders and the utterly bewildered.
Not a great start to the evening, then, but headliners Archie Bronson Outfit are about to improve proceedings enormously. The west countrymen are a joy from start to finish; their psychedelic grooves and riffs melding perfectly with Sam Windett’s melodic vocals, with “Got to Get (Your Eyes)" a particular highlight.
They may not be that prolific (the latest LP was released in 2010) but whether it’s the earlier krautrock-tinged tunes or the more danceable beats of their later work, the fans in attendance tonight certainly haven’t lost any enthusiasm for the band. It was the perfect venue to see their return; here’s hoping for not only a new Archie album soon, but many more nights like this at the Half Moon.