L7's ongoing comeback has returned to the Electric Ballroom again this time with almost the classic line-up. Due to Dee Plakas breaking her arm two days before the start of the tour, she is reduced to doing backing vocals and shouting instructions at the bloke on drums who's filling her shoes.
This gig is also part of the Electric Ballroom's 80th Birthday celebrations - yes they have been in business run by the family that built it for 80 years now!! It is also one of two classic 90's revival gigs in Camden on the same night as Bodycount are playing at Koko at the same time and I would have love to have seen them again too.
First on are Black Moth who I last saw opening for L7 at The Electric Ballroom in 2015 and having re-read that review they haven't changed much as they are still a low-slung sludgy stoner rock band from Leeds, with a female singer Harriet Hyde and guitarist Federica Gialanze with 3 metal blokes who have been touring like mad since I last saw them while sounding like they haven't changed a bit.
The songs grind away with good sleazy lyrics when they can be heard clearly which in this mix isn't too often. But they do get into a groove and generally keep the widdly solos to a minimum so that when Harriet is singing about wanting you to Come To Her it's a really nice proposition.
High point of the set is the total stoner rock monster that is Sisters Of The Stone, which features some fine grinding sludgy guitar on it and the ensuing Shattered Dreams, which went down well before they went as widdly as they get on the closing song about a Pigman whatever it was. Either way they are a very good support act and are playing with Nine Inch Nails this week too.
After the break it was time for L7 who for the first time ever have a Male drummer at a UK show. Yes the original drummer was a bloke but not by the time they were playing shows in the UK and the poor sod has apparently only had one rehearsal! Step forwards Jo Dee Locks as the girls call him, I'm still trying to recall who I last saw him bashing tubs for though.
They opened with a great, grinding version of Andres that had pretty spot on drumming and cool grungy guitars as they get going sounding just how you want them too, which nicely rough around the edges. They amp things up on a Fast & Frightening that goes by in a flash of guitars and pounding drums with Suzy clearly not happy with how her guitar sounds in the monitors even if it sounded fine front of house.
So while Suzy sorted her sound out Donita and Jennifer gave Jo Dee some instructions and then launched into a very rare live version of Uncle Bob from their first album from 1988 it was grinding and cool to hear it played live, although I'd have preferred Bite The Wax Tadpole or Snake Handler from that album.
With Suzy back firing on most cylinders they ploughed through Everglade like a bunch of speed demons. Monster got a huge cheer and the pit was now properly going although nowhere near as intense or insane as back in the day.
Scrap still sounds great and was greeted like a hit single before they slowed things down a touch on Fuel My Fire no matter how deliciously they scream Liar over and over again. Then, like the angry women they still are they barked One More Thing at us while the guitars rages and the drums just pounded away. Jo Dee was doing a great job.
They then gave us a perpetual problem for touring bands what happens when you once more fall Off The Wagon. Well things get grungy and gnarly like this song does. Slide, meanwhile, still sounds as cool as it ever has done over the years.
Crackpot Baby is one of the slightly later songs that has grown on me over the years and while not a high point still goes down a treat. Must Have More which follows it sounds like the crack fiend's mantra played loud.
Well these girls have always liked some Drama and the version they play has plenty in it. They then played new single I Came Back to Bitch and let's face it we live in the perfect times for that. It's angry and has plenty of bile for all the people it needs to be angry with.
Then it was time for a proper mosh pit classic with Shove that went down like it always does. Then after a bit of an intro to explain it we got the other side of the new single Dispatches From Mar A Lago that I'll need to listen to a few times to really get all the digs they are having at the orange one and his cult. I o know it was a good end to a great set.
Of course they came back for an encore that opened with the first L7 song to be played on the radio in the UK. Yes, I finally got to hear Bloodstains live the song that made me a fan in the first place having heard John Peel play it all those years ago. Damn it sounded great and just as deranged as it should do.
Then it was time for the inevitable Pretend We're Dead that was a huge great sing along and I am now glad I heard it before seeing one of my neighbours die a couple of days later as it would have been a lot stranger after that experience. They finished things off with a great rampage through Shitlist that just showed why they sell out shows like this one easily. L7 are still great live and well worth seeing and of course we all wish Dee a speedy recovery.