Live Review: Victor & The Rain Dog @ The Magic Garden
Following numerous live gigs and festival appearances this year, Victor & The Rain Dog topped off an impressive run with an intimate performance at The Magic Garden in Battersea.
London-based Victor & The Rain Dog released their impressive second EP Den Of The Dog in August. Victor Marichal, the gifted lead singer, songwriter and instrumentalist told RockShot recently the band may take a few months break after the performance ‘to write a lot’, so there was a definite end-of-summer vibe to the evening.
The Magic Garden is a natty little venue. Mismatched furniture and decor that included blood red roses and violins nestled in their cases provided the perfect bohemian setting for a band whose music has been described as ‘Carnival Rock and Urban Storytelling’. Candles flickered and a portrait of Hendrix hung above the fireplace, peering down as the band warmed up.
It’s always a good indication of a gig’s calibre when the audience applauds the soundcheck. Flanked by a red velvet curtain, the band built up a powerful crescendo to the opening track Shattered Creature, a standout from the new EP that was brought to life beautifully. With commanding vocals and charismatic dialogue with the crowd, Victor is a natural on stage. Throw in Adam Hayes’ thumping drum, pulsating bass guitar from David Kyle Pane and the driving groove of Craig Apps’ percussion and you get a stunning blend of blues, rock and flamenco with evocative lyrics.
Sidewalk Empire from 2014’s debut EP, with a distinctive rock ’n’ roll quality, was broken down with a thundering guitar introduction. Victor recently described how his musicians are so good, and in demand, the fact they have little time to rehearse is never a problem. He’s spot on – the band have a great synchronicity but it’s never staid; they move quickly with plenty of on stage camaraderie that creates an atmosphere of polished revelry.
To prelude each song, Victor tells an otherworldly fable and to open Anchor & Hope, whose story was brought to life this year by Jamie Jones’s video, he described a pirate protagonist who has lost his lover. ‘This man is a fool and a thief and dangerous!’ he exclaimed as images of a precarious but lovesick buccaneer were evoked and we got drawn into the story as well as the sounds.
From tormented seas to Glasgow by night and the rousing sounds of Rosalyn. It’s a melodic and darkly romantic track with a catchy-hook chorus that attaches itself to your brain and happily stays there. The Snatcher, had the crowd up on their feet and Victor showing his skills on the ukulele, a loud hailer and then deftly switching back to guitar.
The intimate setting gave me a vantage point by the stage, as the band checked their watches and realised only ten minutes of set remained. ‘It’s the last song’ roused an audible groan from the audience and was quickly followed with ‘It’s not, don’t worry!’ and a grin. The funky and fast-paced Hands Up provided ample opportunity for Victor & The Rain Dog to show off their individual talents, and quite rightly so. Calls for an encore were willingly obliged with a cover of Tom Waits’ Jockey Full Of Bourbon (the band’s name a nod to 1985’s Rain Dogs).
It was sublime. Victor & The Rain Dog’s distinctive sound has such originality, the band so accomplished they simply steal the show. Let’s hope that break doesn’t last too long.
Live Review by Nicola Greenbrook and Photography by Kalpesh Patel.
Nicola has her own great blog right here: http://www.materialwhirlblog.com/
Kalpesh has his own great photography website here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/somethingforkate/
Nicola recently interviewed Victor & The Rain Dog you can read it here: Interview