The Black Heart in Camden, along with its neighbour The World’s End/Underworld, must be one of the most rock ‘n’ roll pubs in London, making it an ideal venue to host a double-header of The Picturebooks and Le Butcherettes. Given the nature of Le Butcherettes’ show, the intimacy of the pub’s upstairs live room proved to add another dimension, not to mention copious amounts of perspiration, and other bodily fluids.
Although they originally hail from Germany, The Picturebooks are possibly the least Teutonic band you could imagine. They look like they’re from one of the southern states of the USA, with their long dark hair and beards, and their ramped-up, distorted slide guitar and heavy (and I mean HEAVY) driving drums. For percussion nerds we are talking about a kit with no brass, apart from a large bell, the rest was toms and an inverted bass drums. It is raw, loud and very bluesy rock.
Le Butcherettes were an unknown quantity for me as I’d primarily gone to see The Picturebooks. After the small stage area had been cleared of their predecessors’ battery of drums and guitars, the headliners’ gear of synthesisers and silver metallic guitars was set up, which was not exactly what I was expecting, but once the band hit the stage those expectations were completely overturned. Singer/guitarist Teri Gender Bender perfectly fits the much-used cliché of force of nature. She came on dressed in a boiler suit, in a room that was already reaching boiling point, but once she was underway, the temperature kept on rising. By the time it came to ‘Dress Off’, from the Sin Sin Sin album, that is exactly what Teri did, remove her boiler suit to reveal a red dress underneath, before launching herself into the audience. Between old songs and new from the A Raw Youth album, which this tour is promoting, there were incantations and chants in Mexican, which added to the fervent energy. After the 60-minute-plus set, a saturated Teri headed into the audience to embrace and speak with anyone that wanted to share with her, and what better way to connect with your fans, which is only really possible in such a small venue.
It still never fails to amaze me that international bands are happy, and actually thrilled, to play these small pub venues, which is clearly an indication of how important it is that they be allowed to stay open as they are an extremely important part of our city’s contemporary cultural heritage.