THE GHOST OF A THOUSAND + Rolo Tomassi + The Casino Brawl. West End Centre, Aldershot. 13.12.08

This shouldn’t work. Not just because of the weather (torrential rain is great at keeping gig-goers at home) or the location (far-from-rock’n’roll Aldershot), but because the bands collected here tonight sound so very different. And how- newcomers The Casino Brawl bash out distinctly American-sounding post-hardcore, Rolo Tomassi ram wonky pop into thrash weirdness, and The Ghost Of A Thousand put the punk rock fury on top. But it does work. All of it. And like a fucking charm.

Sure, The Casino Brawl might pander to US acts like Every Time I Die but they do it mighty well, throwing themselves about with addictive enthusiasm and cracking out one song that could almost make breakdowns worth doing again. Almost. A few more tours, a bit more confidence, and just a bit of luck and they could brilliant. Next up though, and Rolo Tomassi are already there.

Second on and the Sheffield noiseniks haven’t just advanced giant leaps over the past year; they’ve very quickly become a frighteningly competent and complete proposition. Hyper-intense older cuts like ‘Film Noir’ still swell with a glorious sense of danger but the release of debut album ‘Hysterics’ has given them a much fuller palette to work with and splat across the room. ‘I Love Turbulance’ combines streamlined rage with eerie serenity, ‘Fofteen’ is an explosion of spidery riffs and feral screams, and ‘Abraxas’ is a thrilling bleeping, screeching slice of fried gold. It’s all brilliant, and should make things very difficult for the headliners.

Except The Ghost Of A Thousand are flawless. Ok, so frontman Tom Lacey has to transmit it to the crowd directly, climbing off the stage and starting a circle pit himself, but there’s more energy coming off this band than a toddler with his wet fingers in a plug socket and armed only with direct punk rock songs (albeit every one better than anything Gallows have written) they make the West End Centre feel like the only place in the world for a rock fan to be tonight.

‘Bored Of Math’ is a raw but razor-sharp call-to-arms, ‘Black Art Number One’ is brutal but brilliantly catchy, and new song ‘Running On Empty’ bodes very well indeed for the Brighton outfit’s second album due early next year. They don’t hang around to plug that though, and like all the best bands of their genre they make their set a short, sharp, satisfying shock and leave Aldershot clearly wanting more. After that, even the refreshing rain outside makes perfect sense. The gods, geography, and genre divisions be damned then- this worked out wonderfully.

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