gallon drunk live

Gallon Drunk

The Green Door Store, Brighton – 27th November 2012

In this year of resurrections, none has been more pleasing than that of Gallon Drunk who not only emerged triumphantly after a five-year hiatus with the best album of their career, but followed it up with a European tour that received rave reviews from all sides. Slightly surprised but nonetheless pleased the band had booked in to play at the tiny but atmospheric Green Door Store we worry that tickets are still being advertised on the day of the show, but our fears come to nothing as the venue is creaking at the seams as the band take to the stage, the third of three acts on the night.

An immediate concern for James Johnston is the amount of time the band have been given to play, the venue having a strict time curfew. Why on earth three bands were scheduled if time is limited, God only knows, but it leads to a hasty redrawing of the set list before the band finally get underway with the stunning 'Hanging On', minus the record's backing vocals but gloriously frantic in its live setting. Johnston happily falls straight into his front man role after too many years as a sidekick, charging around the tiny stage, kicking out wildly and hurling his guitar around with ruthless abandon.

With four members in the band, Terry Edwards, Ian White and new bassist Leo Kurunis wisely allow Johnston the space to vent his spleen, leaving half the stage vacant for the singer to crash around, swallowed by the rage and darkness that fills the band's songs. Edwards allows himself the odd grin as his bandmate creates havoc, sending microphone stands tumbling as he switches from guitar to keyboards and back again. Johnston is lost in music while his multi-instrumentalist colleague never misses a trick as he moves from sax to maracas to keyboards, often in the same song, with unimaginable calmness. White's native drumming breaks through the night and seems to rouse the primal spirit in Johnston who is simply bewitching to behold; how he manages to play anything in his fevered excitement is beyond belief, but he combines with Edwards to create a glorious wall of sound that cuts through your inner being.

It's not all new stuff; there are three or four songs from the band's 2007 album The Rotten Mile, but they don't come close to the huge untrammelled vibrancy of the new numbers. 'You Made Me' is simply huge, 'Killing Time' spits power and class, while the blackened jazz of 'The Big Breakdown' and 'I Just Can't Help But Stare' is as infectious as it is infected.

Despite the worries over time the band manage to play for some fifty minutes, leaving their breathless audience more than satisfied with what they have received. Bands this enthralling live are few and far between and Gallon Drunk have been away for far too long. The news they are recording a new album in the Spring brings much relief and we wait for the new record and next Brighton date with biting anticipation. If the record is half as good as The Road Gets Darker From Here, we'll even forgive them the five year wait.

Photos by Gary Packham

gallon drunk live

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