Wednesday night, Oxford Street, and the spirit of rock and roll hangs over the warm London night. Tim Wheeler and Ash have just finished a set at the Virgin Megastore. Down at the 100 Club and The Damned are recreating the birth of punk rock. Meantime at the Metro, an act from Strabane is making a noisy claim.
They’re called Kharma 45 and they play rock anthems with robust beats. The two singles, ‘Ecstasy’ and ‘Where’s Your Spirit Man’ are not afraid to rave in the tradition of Faithless and Underworld. Given that rave was the last original youth culture, 20 years ago, this isn’t such a bad place to start.
But when we see them in this hot little basement, it’s the rough edges of the music that charm us best. The machines are secondary to Glenn’s squalling voice and the roar of Peter’s guitar. An approving audience of fans, industry heads and tourists are into the scheme. The hope, of course is that they can all tell their kids that they had the foresight to witness future music legends in a tiny joint.
Apparently Kharma 45 signed a very substantial deal with Warner Records, possibly the biggest since U2. I don’t necessarily know if I want that kind of expectation hanging over my head, but you can probably live with it. The challenge right now is to keep playing those gigs, to inspire their congregations and to place their urban hymns in the order of service.
They play The Limelight, Belfast, May 6. Check out the bands’ myspace site here.