I’ve got a soft spot for the Barfly.  A few years ago, I did my first practice shoot for a live music gig there, and for me it always sums up the epitome of a hard core rock club where bands and audience alike can get up close and personal and basically let their hair down.  And they don’t come much more hardcore than Stoneghost tonight.

The raw power of Stoneghost @ The Barfly, Camden (Andy Sampson)

The raw power of Stoneghost @ The Barfly, Camden (Andy Sampson)

After a hard week at work this felt like a room full of people (band and audience) letting out their frustrations on the world via the medium of hardcore metal and basically saying **** you to the rest of the world!

The raw power of Stoneghost @ The Barfly, Camden (Andy Sampson)

The raw power of Stoneghost @ The Barfly, Camden (Andy Sampson)

Warm up to the main event was provided by the rather excellent and locally based Lost Gravity, who whilst nowhere near as hardcore as the main act, do a great job of getting the room energized, complete with their new bassist Andy Peggs.  This is helped not only by some strong crowd pleasing songs like What Goes Around Comes Around, but also by lead singer Breno Val’s rapport with the crowd.

Lost Gravity, supporting Stoneghost @ The Barfly (Andy Sampson)

Lost Gravity, supporting Stoneghost @ The Barfly (Andy Sampson)

Although they list their influences as Metallica and Alice in Chains, you can definitely pick up heavier undertones from Megadeth and Rage Against The Machine, and they even find a slot to close their set with a cover of Killing in the Name.  But the best thing about Lost Gravity is their uplifting feel; songs like Anywhere but Home are really catchy and sing along, and in a different way to Stoneghost, they help you forget its been a tough week and have a sing-along and a beer.  Or in Breno’s case, a Guinness!

The raw power of Stoneghost @ The Barfly, Camden (Andy Sampson)

The raw power of Stoneghost @ The Barfly, Camden (Andy Sampson)

Its difficult to prepare yourself for the pummeling that a live Stoneghost performance provides you with.  But from the second that lead singer Jason Smith gets on stage, you know that you’re not in from a run of the mill show.  Opening up with the frenetic paced The Sound Remains, Jason stalks up and down with the look of someone with some real anger management issues, and proceeds to graphically portray the angst ridden aspects of every moment of every song.  Underpinned by the rapid fire drumming of Chris Finnis and heavy bass of Jamie Nash you can feel the room move as your senses get well and truly assaulted with a sound that’s way tougher than their debut album New Age of Old Ways portrays.

The raw power of Stoneghost @ The Barfly, Camden (Andy Sampson)

The raw power of Stoneghost @ The Barfly, Camden (Andy Sampson)

The album has rightfully received praise since its release last year with its blend of both hardcore and classic rock styles, and with some great guitar grooves from Andy Mathews it has managed to push itself from being just another metal album into something that’s genuinely different.  Unsurprisingly most of tonight’s set comes from the album although the good news is that they also played a couple of as yet untitled new songs.

The raw power of Stoneghost @ The Barfly, Camden (Andy Sampson)

The raw power of Stoneghost @ The Barfly, Camden (Andy Sampson)

The set itself is fast paced, loud, and intense all at once.  During All they Need is the Light Jason finds time to join the small but pretty energetic mosh pit, and in a true devotion to the cause, having smashed himself in the forehead with the microphone during Devils Motion, he manages to complete the set with blood trickling down his forehead.

The raw power of Stoneghost @ The Barfly, Camden (Andy Sampson)

The raw power of Stoneghost @ The Barfly, Camden (Andy Sampson)

Perhaps a fitting introduction to my favourite song of the night Mother Of All Bastards, which mixes classic rock classic swagger and a hardcore machine gun section all combined in one, and a great way to finish a night of intense rock.  And at the end of it, Jason even found time for a brief smile. Clearly he enjoyed it too.

Live Review and Concert Photography of Stoneghost was by Andy Sampson at Camden Barfly on Friday 1st April. Andy has his own great personal website here called Sound Ritual Photos www.soundritualphotos.co.uk