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Those Damn Crows (w/ James and the Cold Gun, Valhalla Awaits) @ Islington Assembly Hall [Show Review]



Those Damn Crows

Those Damn Crows have made more than just a name for themselves since their inception; they have become a band of the people, ensuring they connect with their fans in ways others simply do not. To support the release of their third record, Inhale, Exhale, they took to the road again for possibly their biggest tour to date, not necessarily in venue size, but buzz amongst music lovers across the UK. Those Damn Crows opted to bring a pair of relatively unknown bands, James and the Cold Gun and Valhalla Awaits, along for the ride simply to ensure these hard-working groups got some well-deserved exposure and to accumulate fans across the country.

Sadly, I only caught the tail end of Valhalla Awaits, but this brief introduction piqued my interest. Their very name conjures up an image of some rather hefty metal heads with some brutal riffs, and whilst the band didn’t appear all that mighty in stature (at least from where I was standing), their music did not disappoint. It was the right kind of heavy to support Those Damn Crows, and the vocalist had an impressive set of pipes. It was apparent these guys were not accustomed to such a large venue, and there were some noticeable nerves. Still, these are minor criticisms and should in no way influence anyone considering checking them out, in fact, I would strongly encourage it, and this recommendation is based on hearing no more than two songs!

Up next was James and the Cold Gun. An interesting combination of individuals, given none had a persona that matched another in the band. The guitarist looked as if he belonged in a Led Zeppelin cover band; the bassist clearly appeared to suit an eighties punk band, and the singer looked like the anti-Jarvis Cocker (in his style). This amalgamation seemed so wrong on stage, but their unique rock style spoke for itself, and as with Valhalla Awaits, I would recommend giving these guys a listen.

Of course, the reason for this evening was to witness Those Damn Crows and their incredibly infectious, sing-along rock show. The band entered the stage as an instrumental backing track permeated the venue. As each member took up their position, the crowd cheered ever louder until vocalist Shane Greenhall (with whom we recently spoke) entered, grinning ear to ear and surveying the environment momentarily before erupting into “Fill the Void.”

The audience’s excitement was infectious as every single attendee sang along word for word alongside Greenhall, akin to a mass karaoke. This was quickly followed by “Wake Up,” ensuring the party remained in full swing. As the tune closed, Greenhall once again took a moment to take in his surroundings again before proudly stating, “let’s address the elephant in the room… Number 3!” This concerned the band’s latest record reaching number 3 in the UK charts, an achievement well deserved, but I don’t believe anyone, even the fans, expected. This announcement was received by more jubilant reactions from the audience, which was then rewarded by the fan favourite “Sick of Me.” As before, no voice in the venue was silent; in fact, this can be attributed to every song played throughout the evening!

Artwork for the album ‘Inhale/Exhale’ by Those Damn Crows

Artwork for the album ‘Inhale/Exhale’ by Those Damn Crows

Midway through the group’s blistering set, Greenhall took to the keyboard concealed by the drummer on an elevated area donning the group’s album art for Inhale, Exhale and after some technical issues and a few comedy moments, Those Dame Crows belted out “Blink of an Eye.” It felt more like a ballad than usual and felt somewhat slower-paced than that of the record; still, the crowd was there for it soaking up every note.

It would be easy to give a song-by-song account of the evening, but my recollections would become repetitive. Every tune was carried by the crowd’s intense love for the material; there were sing-alongs a plenty, gang chats to accompany “Rock N Roll Ain’t Dead,” amongst others, and fan favourites throughout the night, including “Who Did It,” “Takedown” and “See You Again” to close the night out. This was all intercut with Greenhall grinning like a Cheshire Cat at the audience’s reactions.

Those Damn Crows have come a long way in a relatively short period and, as already highlighted, can be attributed to the connection they have with the fans. There is never a wall separating them from those who put them there and this attitude will always make a Those Damn Crows gig extra special and personal for every individual in the room.

Those Damn Crows Setlist:

1. Fill the Void
2. Wake Up
3. Sick of Me
4. Kingdom of Dust
5. Sin on Skin
6. Blink of an Eye
7. Who Did It
8. Send the Reaper
9. Rock N Roll Ain’t Dead
10. Go Get It
11. Takedown
12. Man of Fire
13. Waiting for Me
14. This Time I’m Ready
15. See You Again