GIRLSCHOOL & VIXEN LIVE
London, UK, Mean Fiddler, Friday June 3rd 2005by Georgios Sidiropoulos
I am convinced that I have seen Girlschool live more than any other band. I had to travel 1500km to see them live for the first time. They were supporting Nazareth (6th of December ’86 in Hall Sportova, Beograd, Serbia, ex Yugoslavia). They blew me away then and they still do that every time that I see them. I think the girls can’t put a foot wrong and play a less than great show. On tonight’s occasion they were co-headlining with Vixen, a band that I had great respect for prior to this show. Support came from Dante’s Fox a band that I have seen once, many years ago and I was not too eager to see again. Additionally, the fact that they had to start their performance at around 7 made it impossible for me to see them. But I did manage to turn up a few minutes before Girlschool hit the stage. This is the 3rd London gig that the girls play in support of their latest and truly great album “Believe” (Communiqué Records 2004). They played one gig at the Underworld, before the album’s release, one at the Garage for the purpose of filming their first ever DVD (hopefully it will be released some day soon). So this was the third and the only one that they were not the sole headliners.
Seconds into the show it was pretty obvious that the girls were in top form once again. Usually bands loose steam with each passing year, certainly not Girlschool. As bizarre as this might sound to some of you, I strongly believe that this band is performing better and better. I also believe that the band has benefited enormously from the arrival of Jackie Chambers (lead and rhythm guitar and back vocals). Not only Jackie has given a new very welcome dimension to the band’s songwriting (making it more diverse), she has undoubtedly become the main attraction with her amazing “Rock Goddess” type of presence on stage. That’s not to say that the other girls are not doing as brilliantly as ever; it’s just that Jackie has a commanding yet very feminine stage presence and is much more energetic than the legendary Kelly Jonson that she replaced. The same can be said for the returning (she was playing in the first 2 Girlschool albums in the early ‘80s) bass player / lead vocalist Enid Williams. On stage she is much more involved than Tracey Lamb (definitely check out Tracey’s work with Rock Goddess. Their 1983 –same titled- debut album on A&M records is still a classic) the bass player she replaced. She is also a brilliant singer. (Thankfully Girlschool always appear to have at least two fantastic lead singers in their line up).
Classic Girlschool songs like Screaming Blue Murder, Not for Sale, Demolition Boys, C’mon Let’s Go, Emergency and Take it all away made it to the song list as did Not that Innocent (the title track from their previous release) and –thankfully- 3 songs of their new album “Believe”. Surprisingly the also played “Yeah Right” -of their second album- one of my all time favoured Girlschool songs. (I have yet to hear them play the manic Hellrazor of their 3rd album, but I don’t even know if they have ever played that song live!). The fact that they only had 1 hour available to perform, meant that masterpieces like Little Green Man were left out, but hey, you can’t complain when you get an hour’s worth of pure nirvana ;-)
It would have been very hard for any band to follow this act, let alone Vixen. I should let you know that I am the proud owner of the first two Vixen albums, but I have to be honest and say that these girls definitely can’t compete with bands like Girlschool. I can understand the politics behind the decision to play after Girlschool, but it proved to be a bad idea for them. Their guitar player and their bass player had enough energy and played OK, but the drummer was a bit polite hitting the drums (well, not every girl can hit like Denise Dufort, the Girlschool drummer) and the singer was absolutely third rate. This girl is an amateur. She did not even how far or close to hold her microphone when she was singing. If you don’t know how to do basic things like that, you should not go out on a tour, because there is no way that any sound engineer can produce a decent mix for you. Her voice was very average too (bordering to irritating) and the same goes for her stage presence. Vixen have to sort out the singer’s vacancy sooner rather than later. This is unacceptable!! This is the first time I saw them live and if they don’t get sorted, it will be the last too.
Never mind, at least I had the time of my life during the Girlschool performance and I am already looking forward to watching their next gig….
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