Queen’s Hall, Nuneaton, 7 February 2014
Be assured that wherever you see Russian Gun Dogs play – from the darkened side room of a local club to a festival main stage – they will give you a show.
When they take to the stage at Queen’s Hall in Nuneaton for a charity fundraiser (yes, these guys have a heart as well), the crowd and the venue matter not. They could be playing to 40,000 or they could be playing to four. What you’re going to get is the same performance, rehearsed to perfection but in no way lacking passion.
The gig happens at a time when RGD have been busily – very busily – writing and recording new songs ready to go into the studio with Editors‘ producer Gavin Monaghan, who has been on board with the band’s two previous releases, the anthemic Survive and Surrender. This reviewer has been privileged to hear two of these demo tracks, Hertz and Surround You. These are exciting times.
Russian Gun Dogs are from Coventry and incredibly proud of that fact. Since it was blitzed in the Second World War, Coventry is a city that has continually rebuilt and reinvented itself, rising each time like a phoenix from the flames.
You can leave the city for six months and find, on returning, that a part of it has been completely re-landscaped, transformed, always pushing forward with no lack of respect for what has taken place in the past. RGD are like that – a band intertwined with their home city – and the new music proves it.
The band utilise to full effect driving drum beats (Kirk Savage), pounding bass lines (Tom Bailey), killer guitar hooks (Phil Morley) and soaring synth melodies (Tom Goodwin), as well, of course, as perfect vocals and lyrics that will capture your heart before screwing it up like a paper ball and throwing it out to the crowd.
The set list for tonight, which has no doubt been scrutinised just like every aspect of this band’s performance, integrates beautifully the old and the new, showcasing the recently written tracks and a move towards a sound where the synth takes more prominence and pop sensibilities shine through.
But there is a thread here that links the entire Russian Gun Dogs back catalogue, from the post-punk of early tracks like Lights to the anthemic, new wave inspired single releases of last year, to the brand new synth pop sounds (Surround You, Parallels) and epic, emotion-driven Invincible and Hertz.
Frontman Paul Watters is a fiery ball of energy (as one audience member put it, “this guy does not stay still”). You’re not sure if he wants the attention of the crowd or is so focused, quite frankly, that he doesn’t care if you’re there or not. It doesn’t matter. The resulting performance is amazing.
RGD are the sort of band that, as a fan, you completely buy into, you root for, you care about. With so much new music on the way and a performance at London’s legendary Water Rats next month, 2014 is shaping up to be a very important year indeed for Russian Gun Dogs. Don’t wait any longer to discover them for yourself. You will not be disappointed.