Live Review : Revival Black (Album Launch) + Novacrow + Dead Rebel + King Voodoo @ The Zanzibar in Liverpool on October 5th 2019

Liverpool. To quote a member of tonight’s headline band “it’s an odd place to gig. Everyone is IN a band so nobody wants to go and SEE a band”. Yep, not tonight though as the sold-out Zanzibar club can attest. So we walk into the dark, red-lit, womb-like space not really knowing what to expect in terms of show or crowd. But hey ho, the drinks are cheap, the toilets are nice and there’s a comfy chair for the Grumpy One; there may even be cake later. Let’s go.

First support tonight, King Voodoo start us off with a laid-back set of acoustic blues. There are only two of them but they play well, and the singer has a great voice. I understand that usually there would be backing vocals too but unfortunately voodoo #2 has not been well this week and his voice is more of a croak so he sticks to just strumming his guitar. Get well soon chap! The music has a bit of a funky edge, and I catch a couple of song titles – “Shinedown” has an insistent pace and “The Vegas Club” is smooth and sultry with a catchy chorus. It’s always hard to judge a band based on an acoustic set but on the strength of tonight, I think I’ll be checking King Voodoo out some more in the future.

Dead Rebel are also new to me. They play heavy, fuzzy blues with more than a nod towards Nirvana. There’s plenty of scouse humour and some football talk that goes right over my head. They’re not my cup of tea but one of my friends was very enthusiastic so it’s all a matter of personal taste really. There’s a single ‘Avalanche’ now available on all the usual platforms so if you like your music to be grunge with a light touch you might like to check them out. I mention the light touch because one of their songs, rather than being anvil-heavy, is a little like Enuff Z Nuff’s “New Thing” if you can imagine that played through a fuzzbox and sung by Kurt Cobain. It’s different, and I like that about them.

Third band Novacrow are much more acceptable to my musical palate. They play hard alt-rock with clean female vocals and some shouty backing vocals to contrast. There is some horror-style facepaint and lyrics, and they dance. In fact, they don’t just dance, they prance a bit, and occasionally fall over. There’s plenty of melody, mixed with a touch of comedy horror and a lot of power chords. I didn’t catch any song titles or choruses but I found myself nodding along and bopping a bit, and I bought their album after the set finished! They were fun with a hint of danger, kind of the musical equivalent of juggling chainsaws. They have a good sound and put on a good show, and I was impressed.

The whole point tonight of course is that after just about a year of working on it, Revival Black are finally releasing their album and so we get to hear the full album plus a couple of bonus tracks in the set. We also get a chance to purchase the album slightly ahead of the official release date of October 11th, and as an added incentive to be here, we do indeed get cake! Oh happy day, cake and music – who could ask for more? Well me, of course, and I get it in the form of a couple of free shots for all attendees from sponsors Cloven Hoof rum. Oh happier day!

So how was it I hear you ask? Moist, crumbly, sticky icing… oh you mean the gig not the cake don’t you? How was the set? Well to be fair that was a bit moist and sticky too, the Zanzibar club isn’t the biggest venue and there were a lot of people there! I’m using that (and the red lights) as my excuse for not taking many photos. The real reason though was because I was too busy enjoying the music, which was absolutely excellent. The set started with ‘So Alive’ and immediately the place was jumping. ‘Hold Me Down’ was next, with its sleazy guitar sound and howling vocals. That one used to be my favourite but tonight I prefer ‘Give You The World’ because it’s a slow and easy, slinky, feline sort of song. It oozes into your ears and makes your hips move. ‘Silverlines’ is an older song with a stunning guitar solo and a faster, rockier pace, and it gets huge cheers from the crowd. At this point the mic gets handed to a member of the audience down at the front so he can propose to his girlfriend, aww. This is turning out to be quite a night!

A competent cover of Deep Purple’s ‘Burn’ segues seamlessly into their own song ‘The River’, a song that has a similar beat and is easy to listen to and get caught up in. ‘Wide Awake’ is a natural singalong song and the crowd duly oblige. It also really shows off the power and range of Daniel’s voice, this guy sure can belt them out. ‘All I Wanna Do’ is another song that grabs you by the bits and makes you shake it all about. Even the Grumpy Git tapped a toe or two, and as for me well the least said about my flailing arms and bouncing up and down the better. It has a rocking-out instrumental bridge with a superb guitar solo and is possibly the heaviest song of their repertoire, I love it. ‘No Secrets, No Lies’ has a splendid acapella bit in the middle, and for ‘Step In Line’ my feet duly oblige and make me dance again. So that’s the album, 10 new, exciting and fresh-sounding classic rock songs that I think will be on constant repeat in my car for the next few weeks.

The night finishes with another cover, a raucous everyone-join-in version of Creedence’s ‘Fortunate Son’ that sees the roof of this little sweatbox of a venue blown off. Metaphorically at least! Well done Revival Black, that was an awesome night and the album is an absolute gem.

Words and photography by Jo Crosby