Camden’s Electric Ballroom was the venue for L7’s triumphant return to London. With shows at Download festival and Glasgow already under their belts (the latter being their only other UK headline gig), the Californian four-piece grunge punk pioneers hit the stage in London to a raucous reception. Having disappeared from the scene in 2001, it’s been a long wait to see Donita Sparks, Suzi Gardner, Jennifer Finch and Dee Plakas back on stage and, indeed, for much of the audience it was their first L7 gig, having been too young to catch them the first time around.
The band kick off with Deathwish and Andres, happily informing the crowd that the London show had sold out faster than any other club date on the tour. The set is largely drawn from 1990’s Smell The Magic and 1992’s Bricks Are Heavy, with vocals shared between guitarists Gardner and Sparks and bassist Finch. One More Thing is introduced as “a song we never played back in the day” but there’s no hint of any other surprises, such as new material. The night feels like a genuine celebration with the band relaxed yet powerful in their delivery. The packed venue heats up and the crowd gets sweatier and more frenzied as tracks including Fuel My Fire, Everglade and Shove ring out in both nostalgia and current exultation, the latter song introduced with the wry “Hashtag 1990s” by Finch.
Returning to the stage for a much demanded encore, the classic and much anticipated Pretend We’re Dead has the crowd exploding with joy and what might be a final chance to dance to this fierce and fun group in the flesh. With a documentary in the works, it’s not clear if this is a beautiful coda or the possible seed of a new era blooming for L7. Either way, tonight’s audience stumbled out into the London summer night air with a big smile on its collective face.
Review and photos by Imelda Michalczyk. Electric Ballroom 16th June 2015.Imelda has her own great site here: www.rebeladelica.com