Prototype US punk band Rocket From The Tombs are better known for the groups their original line-up would go on to form – Pere Ubu and The Dead Boys – than the splenetic take on rock ’n’ roll that the Cleveland, Ohio outfit specialised in their short-lived incarnation between 1974 and 1975.
Now reformed by David Thomas (aka Crocus Behemoth) and Craig Bell with younger players Gary Sperko and Buddy Akita on guitars and the exceptionally good Steve Mehlman on drums, their hearts would seem to lie in a distant age of two-minute songs played loud and fast.
Thomas, in his black hat, grey beard, weathered jacket and red braces, is a charismatic front man, who spends much of the performance seated, weaving tall tales between songs and tossing in provocative comments like an American Mark E Smith.
“A musician without mystery is nothing but a damned used car salesman,” he observes at one point.
“I know what a disappointment I must be – the mythical Crocus Behemoth and look at me,” he adds later on, noting that his nonagenarian mother buys him Velcro-fastening shoes.
Nugefinger, from the band’s new album Black Record, is, if Thomas is to be believed, copied from a bootleg of Ted Nugent and The Bar-Kays playing frat houses in the mid-70s. It’s brutally intense.
Songs such as Hawk Full of Soul and Welcome to the New Dark Ages are rooted in the same dark soil as The Stooges and the MC5. Spooky has some of the creepiness of The Cramps. Yet there are others, such as Amphetamine, that are out and out melodic, catchy even.
Then, to close, there’s Sonic Reducer, the band’s ferocious anthem that sounds as snarky as ever.
When Thomas bellows “I’m not just anyone” you can’t help but agree.
Contrarian to the last, Rocket From The Tombs are one hell of a rock ’n’ roll band.
Gig date: December 13