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TIGER ARMY Unleash Their Sweet Savageness at London’s O2 Academy, Islington [Show Review]

Tiger Army returned to the UK after a three-year hiatus to the joy of fans old and new. Along for the ride was the Finish post-punk outfit Grave Pleasures and the one to watch out for, The Nightmares from Newport, Wales.



It has been three or so years since the psychobilly trio Tiger Army has graced UK shores which, for their fans, is a lifetime to wait! Still, they did come back and old London town got to party in a way that only this ‘50s-inspired music style can encourage. What a party it was too, with Finland’s Grave Pleasures and the UK’s The Nightmares along for the ride, it was to be an evening to remember! Alas due to an incident in London earlier in the day I did not get the chance to experience either of the support acts which was a massive blow for me. After giving Grave Pleasures a spin, I was actually a little excited to see these guys, but sadly I only arrived to catch the tail end of their last tune.

Still, the audience reaction was a good indication I had missed an excellent show from this post-punk band. Although I failed to catch anything from the opening act The Nightmares, I also gave these guys a listen pre-gig and it has to be said, this Welsh band’s sound made me think that they were a little misplaced as a support given their more somber tone and style. Nevertheless, their debut self-titled EP is out now and I would strongly recommend you give it a listen.

So, on with the band I did catch, Tiger Army! What can I say? They played a tremendous set filled with fan favourites the likes of “Devil Girl,” “Dark and Lonely Night” and “Prisoner of the Night” to just name a few. These tunes, coupled with the raw energy from start to finish, and the intermit nature of the O2 Academy, made the show particularly personal for all in attendance.

Check out “New Hip Moon” from Grave Pleasures’ Dreamcrash album:

Although front men usually garner the majority of the focus, it was the double bass playing antics of Djordje Stijepovic that really stole the show, somehow providing encouragement to sing along, dance and party without really saying a word for the most part. Having said that, guitarist and lead vocalist, Nick 13 was still pushing for audience interaction and participation when introducing “FTW.” “This one goes out to all the punks, ska-heads, skin-heads, etc” whilst also noting that he did not think the band had ever played this short-but-sweet melody in the UK before invoking a tremendous cheer from the audience.

Although Tiger Army did play an encore, you would be forgiven if you were there and didn’t even realize. They were not even of stage long enough for a quick smoke break. That said, the four-tune encore pleased every single person at the show with “Ghostfire” which was preceded by a short, but much-celebrated snippet of Johnny Cash’s “Ghost Riders in the Sky” before closing with “Outlaw Heart” and “Annabel Lee.” Although the only disdain the audience showed for the band was when Nick 13 announced “last one London.” I think it’s safe to say the boos were not malicious in any way, more to project the disappointment the show would soon be concluded.

The only negativity I can take away from this show is that I did not make it in time to catch the sets of the opening acts both of which really deserve some attention. Upon leaving the venue, I was handed a CD by someone I believe was actually a band member with the Nightmares, which I took without much thought. Being handed a piece of physical media at a show is a rarity these days, let alone for free! I regret not being more grateful for this. Smaller bands struggle to deliver their art and many do not continue due to financial restraints, so in conclusion to this review of a kick-ass show by Tiger Army, I would like to encourage people to do their best to catch opening acts and show support for up-and-coming acts, they may very well be the next big thing and you will be able to say “I saw them at one of their earliest shows!”

“Dark and Lonely Night” is off of Tiger Army’s 2016 record V •••–:

Tiger Army Setlist:

01. Prelude: Tercio de Muerte
02. Beyond the Vail
03. Afterworld
04. Devil Girl
05. Devil That You Don’t Know
06. Dark and Lonely Night
07. Cupid’s Victim
08. Hechizo de Amor
09. Prisoner of the Night
10. FTW
11. Eyes of the Night
12. The Past Will Always Be
13. Pain
14. Never Die
15. Pipeline (cover of The Chantays)
16. Ghostfire
17. Outlaw Heart
18. Anabel Lee

Tiger Army’s latest album Retrofuture was released on September 13th, 2019, via Rise Records: