Live Review: Invasion

Knocking metal out of its niche and out of the park. The Macbeth, London. Friday, July 3

The last time NME was in this poseur’s paradise in east London it was as a DJ. The set included a track by Italian doom metallers UFOmammut which was so heavy it made one unfortunate punter void his bowels on the dancefloor, causing the venue to be, er, evacuated. Luckily, the closest we get to this tonight is by having to declare that Invasion are the shit. Their set has to be cut short because London-based Japanese psych-rock-opaths Bo Ningen play well over their allotted time (but are brilliant nonetheless). This works in Invasion’s favour as not only are the audience of hipsters rattled by the sight of crazy long-hairs in garish dresses playing guitar solos with their teeth, but the main act have to become as focused as a James Bond baddie’s laser beam to impart their musical message.

This message may be one of refinement and recontextualisation rather than radical and bold strides into uncharted territory but that doesn’t matter because, to put it simply, they are heavier than Mechagodzilla’s bollocks and rock like a Weeble on crystal meth. They open with new song ‘Behind The Black Gate’, the B-side to next single ‘Spells Of Deception’, and this sets out their stall like a man with a sack full of monkey’s paws in a dusty bazaar.

Six- (well, three-) stringed assassin Marek plays in front of a miniature ’Henge constructed entirely from vintage Orange speakers, unleashing slugs of sludge-blasted doom and Mesolithic Blue Cheer riffola. He is bedecked in a vintage Led Zeppelin T-shirt, which is apt because the octopus-aping ghost of John Bonham seems to be occupying the corporeal form of flame-haired drummer Zel tonight.

The focal point of the stage at all times, though, is Chan Brown who, resplendent in a striped kaftan/wizard’s robes, is a shamanistic singer who finds new ground to call her own somewhere between the blues explosion of Beth Ditto’s holler, the gritty soul tones of The BellRays’ Lisa Kekaula and the psychedelic gospel wail of Chrome Hoof’s Lola Olafisoye. A guitar malfunction causes Marek to explode and fling his axe wildly at an innocent piano before plugging in a see-through perspex model and continuing. And, after ‘Rainbows’, as Zel reduces her kit to matchsticks, you realise this is a happy metaphor for this colourful band who throw showmanship, electricity and glamour in the face of dour authenticity and smash restraint to pieces. Awesome. No shit.

John Doran

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