“Beers on a school night”! Everyone’s done it. But there are school nights and then there are school nights. A Wednesday or Thursday and you only have two days to get through until the weekend. But a Monday? Now that’s a proper school night.
So, imagine my reluctance and slight concern when I found out the Australian band Midnight Juggernauts were playing the Hoxton Square Bar & Kitchen on the king of school nights. Do I stay in and watch Monday’s double of Corrie, do I catch up with paperwork and general admin or do I grab the bull by the horns and get on that bus to Shoreditch?
The decision was made slightly easier after I started to read an article about previous Midnight Juggernauts gigs. One fan in particular stated that “the gig literally changed my life”. That remark alone was the bait on the hook I required and within 30 minutes I was strolling down Shoreditch High Street
The Hoxton Square Bar & Kitchen is a strange little venue. As the name suggests it’s a bar and serves fairly decent food (my chunky chips and beer combination were a revelation). However, there is an aspect of mystery and intrigue as at the end of a corridor and next to the fly infested toilets hangs a black curtain. In the same way the wardrobe opens to the wonderful world of Narnia so does this curtain to a small dark gig venue … in fact, Santa’s grotto would actually be a better analogy. There are no flashing lights, strobes or even a hint of a sound or lighting console. The only apparent form of lighting are a couple of coloured strip-lights and a disco ball. All very tame for trendy Hoxton.
The venue was packed. Midnight Juggernauts obviously don’t get to tour this part of the world that often so tickets were sold out. Yes, they are about to release their third album “Uncanny Valley” but the band still haven’t reached the world tour status here yet and after what I witnessed I find that extremely hard to believe. Futuristic dance tunes from “Dystopia” mixed with excellent new material that simply wowed the audience. Everyone was participating with heads nodding and people throwing themselves around the venue. The band responded and each track took the gig to a higher level. New tracks including “Ballad of the War Machine” were extremely well received but “Into the Galaxy” and “Shadows” confirmed what I had read earlier.
It’s all too easy to view this band as simply “electronica” or “dance”. There is so much more to them though as their live performance is quite breathtaking. A heavy bass guitar and a drummer who would not be out of place in a full metal band ensured you didn’t forget you were seeing live music and not sampled, pre-recorded tracks. I simply did not want the gig to end. So much has been made of the brilliance of Daft Punk recently but I would argue that Midnight Juggernauts are on a par (at least) with them.
The encore was the highlight for me. First the drummer wanted to play his favourite song and then it was opened up to the audience to decide what was played next. Crowd participation is obviously a huge part of this group’s live act and it worked so well.
Their tour continues through Germany and Holland finally returning to Australia. I personally cannot wait to see this group again. They have anthems in their bag that would grace stadiums. Quite possibly one of the most convincing, entertaining performances I’ve ever seen.
If this is the calibre of music available in London at the moment then I’ll risk a school night any time.
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