I had been looking forward to this one having never seen King Dude and loving his albums. Excellent supports made this a huge draw too and it was nice to actually go to a mellow show for a change and not actually get punched in the back of the head taking pictures. Well that was the plan anyway.

First up in a fantastic neo-folk double bill are Of The Wand And The Moon which is pretty apt as it must be a full one tonight looking at the sky. Kim Larsen takes centre stage with ethereal music and trippy lights shining down, surrounded by guest musicians. Despite title we acclimatise ourselves to the gentle soothing strains of ‘Tear It Apart’ which has a lush and somewhat fragile air about it. Swaying along as drums slowly beat, things gradually build and on ending the song is met by a massive round of applause. Looking behind me it seems that suddenly people have filled all the spaces and seem caught in the grip of things. Acoustic strum and sampled backing vocal parts see us ‘Caught In Winter’s Weave’ and I am entranced by the power behind the performance. We are told that we are getting a happy number next and I noticed people singing along to the words of ‘Immer Vorwärts’ seemingly spellbound and in complete wanderlust by it all. I think the happiness was a misnomer to be honest although it did spread a certain warm glow about it. There was even the addition of a mouth keyboard (or whatever it’s actually called) played along on this one. Things moved into jauntier foot-stomping parts which picked things up a bit and certainly gave the guitarist and bass player on stage right an opportunity to get more involved in things.  ‘I called Your Name’ seemed particularly evocative and full of passion which spilled off the stage and into the crowd and these tales of love and lust really hit the mark with ‘I Crave For You’ seeing vocals peak and the twang of the bass hitting magnificently. As the set drew on the rich voice really infected the senses and as the band got closer to a jangling frenzy it was near impossible to stand still. Still nothing prepared for the force of closer ‘The Last Descent’ which hit like an Indie anthem and kind of reminded a bit of a cross between The Jesus And Mary Chain and The Mighty Lemon Drops. This was quite surprising listening to it studio wise, where it’s a lot mellower and it made for a storming finale.

It’s time for another distinguished front-man to take the stage, this time Tony Wakeford with Sol Invictus. Having caught them at this venue in the past I had a bit more of an idea what to expect and eagerly awaited for their tales of ancient Albion to unfold. With a couple of violinists on stage, that they did with ‘We Are The Dead Men’ to a slow beat and that unmistakable golden voice. The strings add a strident pitch at times to proceedings, at others they simply caress as they ebb and flow and the folk laden melodies take back into bygone times. Grim times they are oft too as the cannibal tale of Sawney Bean attests. It’s a story I know well of a Scottish inbred clan feasting upon flesh and I lose myself in its moist meat. The folkloric tales and poetic lyrics are real page-turners and each and every song has its own intriguing mysteries within its layers. We are left literally standing at the cliffs edge looking into the sea with the narrative at one point and then we are quintessentially led into ‘An English Country Garden’ and truly see the band blossoming to full bloom. No polite cups of tea though its music to drink harder stuff to especially when ‘Twa Corbies’ takes a more electric root and stomps along. You could easily imagine Morris Dancers getting down to this or perhaps a sinister cult using it as the soundtrack to a ghastly human sacrifice to ensure their crops don’t fail. Tony tells us that we are getting a traditional folk song called Industrial and jokes that this is not in the PTV sense. It was ‘The Blackleg Miner’ and we went down the dirty pit with its jaunty beat, revelling in its more than descriptive lyrics. One of the violinists speaks of witchcraft sending shivers down the spine and what better time is there for an airing of ‘Black Easter’, celebrating its true pagan origins? The set was absolutely packed with great songs but everyone seemed waiting specifically for one in particular and are suitably rewarded with ‘Lucifer’. Joining Wakeford on stage are both Kim Larsen and clutching a well on way to empty bottle of bourbon King Dude. There’s some singing and swaying both on and off the stage and it makes the end of the set a rather memorable one as we await the Dude to reappear.

Time to get sexed up with King Dude and co and things start swimmingly with the stomp of new track ‘Holy Christos.’ The bass groove is nice and thick and August Johnson smiles over us as she twangs up a storm and the post punk rhythm infects and does a good job at sending us insane! There’s a tune up fubar and the regal one assures us that The King is drunk to which we can only say long live the king; well at least he assures Death Won’t Take Me’ and that he intends to stick around for the time being and ‘Wanna Die At 69.’ That particular number injecting the swaggering ‘devil sold his soul’ blues about it and getting us bouncing around. Having been playing some of his albums with near religious devotion it’s great to finally witness them up close and personal. The vocalist is in fine voice and amusing with in between swipes at the audience. If he’s really that pissed it’s going in favour as far as the performance is concerned, making him all the more mischievous with it and acting like a bit of a naughty child who you never know what is going to do next.

Moving toward the side of the stage to get a view of the other players it’s clear that although not rammed to the hilt, the audience are pressed in with even most of the hardcore Sol Invictus fans sticking around to get a taste of things. A lot of the material is from the latest album but there’s an occasional dip back to older craft such as the hymnal dusk of ‘Jesus In The Courtyard’ ghost-riding into town on a dusty trail and encouraging whistles to be whetted all the more. By comparison the cutting swagger of ‘Fear Is All You Know’ really gets its chops in on us and devilishly rocked away. One of the highlights is definitely the gorgeous ‘Silver Crucifix’ with its infectious ‘I don’t want to live in this world’ hookline, honestly I could really imagine Pete Steele looking down as this played out and laughing his lungs out. The Stooges, surf rock and Suicide (the band) are all totally invoked with the powerful punky bounce of ‘Sex Dungeon (USA)’ and that one is one wild ride. After the main set finished I did find the obligatory encore a little bit of a ‘let’s get this over with’ affair. The Dude kept telling us he wanted more booze and drugs so perhaps had his mind on other things and the adrenaline didn’t quite pick up on the whole apart from for one idiot going a bit silly with a pit of his own, causing the frontman to stop proceedings and ask him to calm down. With the closing bars of ‘Miss September’ ringing in the ears it was time to hit the mean streets of Camden again. All the dudes, young and not so, had certainly made this a night to remember.

(Pete Woods)