The Crunch. Short and snappy, unlike the musical history between the four guys on stage tonight. Sören 'Sulo' Karlsson from the Swedish bluesy rock band Diamond Dogs put the band together following his and Peter Karlsson's book launch (Keep Yourself Alive, Lind & co.) last year. In keeping with the book's topic, a compilation of interviews with 70s rock and punk luminaries, for the launch Sulo called up on his mates Dave Tregunna (Sham 69, Lords of the New Church, The Wanderers), Terry Chimes (The Clash, Hanoi Rocks, Cherry Bombz) and Mick Geggus (Cockney Rejects) to provide the live music, and so The Crunch was born.
Tonight's gig is a showcase at the intimate Upstairs at the Garage in North London. As is usual for these events, the atmosphere is somewhat nonchalant to begin with. However in addition to the music industry professionals, there are many familiar faces from the London music scene also, some of them old enough to have been there when the likes of Sham 69 and Cockney Rejects came into existence. A couple of young kids are present, accompanied by their parents. No doubt the band tonight are better qualified than most to give the youngsters a taste of real songsmithery with punk spirit.
The night kicks off with 'Busy Making Noise', a melodic, singalong punkpop tune which gets a good reaction from the crowd. There is a female keyboardist onstage filling up the sound and also providing backing vocals to a nice effect. 'Street Flavour' continues in a similar vein. Next up is 'A Matter of Time' which starts with a delicious reggae beat so familiar from The Clash and mutates into another breezy rally, enhanced by Sulo's strong vocals. The band are clearly enjoying themselves on stage. 'Right About Now' proves that there is no faulting this band's melodic sensibilities - each song could be a single. For the next track, 'Yesterday's Boys and Girls', the tempo is dropped a bit. The slower moment does not last long though as the band launch into 'Fire Again', a very catchy rock'n'roll number that has the crowd bouncing up and down at the front of the stage. Chimes' solid drumming and Geggus' guitarwork are a joy.
There is not much of a show going on, ie. no throwing instruments around nor bizarre outfits, just four guys playing rock'n'roll from their hearts. Dave Tregunna, as energetic as ever on bass, dedicates a cover of 'Russian Roulette' to his old bandmate, Stiv Bators of the Lords of the New Church, and continues to sing his heart out. Passionate and gravelly, with spotless backing from the rest of the band. Following 'A Little Bit of Grace' Sulo introduces the band and jokes that the BBC could not make it to the show. Next up is 'Gangster Radio', the B-side of their single 'Down By the Border' (released on 3 June on Legal Records) which follows. Both are catchy tunes that refuse to leave your brain once heard. Big hooks, alternating jangly and crunchy guitars - and the crowd show their appreciation. We are treated to two encores, 'Runaway Son' and another cover, 'Garageland' by the mighty Clash. 'We're a garage band, we come from garageland' - the perfect statement for this band of no-nonsense rock'n'roll with a punky twist, receiving raucous applause and loud whoops from the crowd.
The Crunch are not just a punk band as one might expect looking at the guys' backgrounds, but a successful mix of powerpop, rock'n'roll and yes, punk. Not groundbreaking by any means, but I doubt that was the aim of the band in the first place. All in all, the band are tight, the tunes are there and the expected album and full tour in October this year are something to look forward to. Check them out.
Review by Anna Johanna
Photos by Svenga Block