Collateral Rock Rips up Black Heart Camden

Ramsgate is not particularly noted as a hotbed of rock ’n’ roll as far as I’m aware Collateral are going to change that!. Ramsgate may well have only entered the national consciousness recently in connection with one of the most farcical, not to say shameful, events connected to Brexit with the award of a multi-million pound contract (topically cancelled on the day of this review) to provide cross channel ferry services to a company that not only had no experience of the ferry industry but didn’t have any ferry boats.  You couldn’t make it up and the realisation that the powers that be really take the populace to be stupid was reinforced with the revelation that this phoney outfit had cobbled some procedures together by copying the menu from a local Indian takeaway as the basis for their price structure. 

On the menu this evening in the murky depths of the Black Heart (they could save a word and really call it the “Black”, which accurately reflects the lighting conditions) was a tasty helping of melodic rock from this quartet, with a short set of songs that were lapped up by the full-house crowd of Collateral fans. Of course it’s standard form for promo pictures of heavy rock groups to look mean and moody and on their website Collateral are no exception with collective expressions that express the torment of the tour van possibly just having a been given a parking ticket or a perhaps  a bout of mild indigestion so  expectations potentially of a bunch of pomp rockers strutting about with pretend tantrums were confounded by this appealing foursome who, possibly with relief at the release of pre-gig tension, were all charm and smiles as they delivered a storming set after Planet Rock DJ Paul Anthony had introduced them, referring to the popularity of current remixed song “Midnight Queen” on the station.  With the band’s four-track EP “4 Shots!” being the only material available to check out before the gig it there were obviously going to be a quite a few unreleased numbers on display, as was the case with set opener “Calm Before the Storm” which set the scene for the rest of the evening with frontman Angelo Tristan going through the full repertoire of required poses, all eyeliner and exaggerated expressions, the tassels on his obligatory leather jacket flying in different directions as he moved energetically on the small stage area.  Thick leather wristbands, tooled cowboy boots, ripped jeans, tats’ (union requirements for this branch of music), long hair with badger blonde stripes completed the look for the singer, who, courtesy of the Hades style lighting definitely had a bit of the Mephistopheles meets Freddie Mercury about him.  

Later in the set he went full rocker and revealed his bare torso under his leather jacket, which pleased a part of the audience at least, who by that time were really into their set and boppin’ away.  Comparisons are odious of course but also essential for the lazy writer so I would say that these boys would appeal to fans of melodic stadium rock like Bon Jovi; they are heavy enough to rock the joint but didn’t feel the need to blow the audience away with stacks of Marshalls, having a frontman play an acoustic guitar indicates their inclination to play rock music with a lighter touch.  Todd Winger (great name!) on lead guitar has all the armoury of the shredder but did not go over the top with his solos, apart from a short interlude following “Just Waiting For You” when he showed off his chops on his white Jackson guitar with some fretboard wizardry, his long, flowing locks (the barbers on the Kent coast getting short shrift from this lot, clean shaven “didn’t get the memo” drummer Ben Atkinson aside) falling over his face as he let rip with some super-fast playing. Usually, less is more, but on this occasion, more was more than OK.  Looking on, down the front, was the guitarist’s proud mother-in-law with her daughter, who, talking after the show, mentioned that the attractive couple had a 10-month child, which was a reminder that playing in a band isn’t just a bit of fun but a massive commitment for many.  Having said that, Collateral did have a lot of fun on the night and by the end of the show, so had the audience. Their single “Midnight Queen” sounds like a modern classic of the genre with great hooks, a strong melody and a big chorus and is deservedly gaining the band a lot of attention.  Returning to the stage for an encore it was the only choice for the finale and suitably rocked the house.  Unlike the plans for Ramsgate Harbour, the future looks bright for this quartet. Collateral makes sure Ramsgate and Rock n’ Roll in 2019 and beyond are inseparable.

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