The Limelight was the location of an intriguing event last Saturday night (August 24th): the ‘unofficial’ launch of Ajenda’s new album ‘Unrecognizable’( The ‘official’ launch is at the end of September is Agohill’s Diamond Rock Club, evidently). Rather than question it, Chordblossom decided to simply join it, and headed down to this slightly unusual Distortion Project gig.
Seasoned cover band veterans Rough Diamonds are up first; a great way to start a gig as (obviously) everyone can sing along and thoroughly loosen up! RD are a proper pub band – no frills, no affectations, just pure rock n roll. They play a lively set of classic rock, from acts such as Thin Lizzy, David Lee Roth and Led Zep. Some onstage banter about being “a bit rusty” proves prophetic when pocket rocket vocalist Gary O’Neill fluffs the lyrics of ‘Whiskey in the Jar’. Rough Diamonds indeed! Still, a thoroughly enjoyable set of faithfully (ish) reproduced rock classics.
Nasa Assassin’s arrival onstage is preceded by Elton John’s ‘Rocket Man’ blasting out of the speakers. Vocalist The Watcher is last to arrive, making his entrance in lab coat, nerd glasses and carrying a clipboard (as all good science boffins should). They immediately launch into their signature style: chainsaw riffs, chugging grooves and sneaky time changes, all performed with camp, hammy gusto. They blast through a dizzying set of songs such as ‘Mystify’ and ‘Super Collider’, giving their all, as usual. The Watcher’s rich, roaring baritone voice is on fine form tonight. He is note-perfect as well as being an enthusiastic, marvellous showman; the ringleader of the slightly bonkers circus that is Nasa Assassin.
Frankly, it will take something pretty special to top that. Luckily, Ajenda are more than capable of rising to the challenge. By the time they file onstage the Limelight is almost full, with even a few local slebs dotted about (former Blink Management mates Stormzone). Vocalist Jen Walker welcomes everyone to the show, and they’re off.
Starting with album opener ‘Dirty Rock N Roll’ is a given; its slinky groove and sardonic lyrics are the perfect choice and sound ballsy as hell tonight. Their set gives new album ‘Unrecognisable’ a proper airing tonight, including the title track as well as ‘Hatred and Greed’ and ‘Paranoia’, and also tracks from their earlier EP’s (‘Drinking Game’, ‘Change’). They cleverly pick their most rocking songs for this most rocking of venues, and leave the softer numbers for another day.
Walker’s vocals are rich, throaty and gorgeous; she has a proper rock voice that is thoroughly enjoyable to listen to. Sounding rather like a cross between P!nk and Joan Jett, she even throws in a few Jett-style growls here and there. The band themselves are no slouches either; the music is tight and lush, with some tasty guitar solos. Even when they drop it down a notch for a few ballads they are no less powerful. ‘Tattoo’ is hauntingly beautiful and packs a real punch live, as does ‘Heaven’s Tears’, with its flamenco flavour and chugging riff.
They top off a terrific set with an amped-up version of ‘Hotel Rooms’, all slinky grooves and bluesy swagger. It’s a strong finish for this talented band. Walker is a revelation: a proper rock chick, with a terrific ballsy voice and a poised onstage presence that belies her tender years. If they can capture the vitality and richness of their live sound on their albums they doubtless have a glittering career ahead of them.