Live Review: All Them Witches & The Ghost Wolves - Koko, London 05/10/2017
Now that festival season is over you can put those blues away as the autumnal touring season is here and for me it is being kicked off by a band, who are ironically perhaps best listened to in nothing other than a festival tent, packed to the rafters with alcohol infused revellers tripping out with that wild child 60's psychedelic vibe.
All Them Witches join us at London's legendary KOKO, having travelled all the way from the even more legendary home of music; Nashville,Tennessee, and they brought along with them a wild and feral drum and guitar duo from Austin, Texas, The Ghost Wolves.
The Ghost Wolves were a great opener and were well suited to accompany the headliners with their charismatic mix of punk and blues hard rock.
The venue was taking a while to fill up and sadly for a majority of the latecomers they missed out! Guitarist Carley Wolf stomped and strutted all over the stage in her ankle high cowboy boots and hat! Throwing her guitar around with such controlled recklessness, she was really making the most of playing in such an iconic venue. Johnny on drums was just as captivating, throwing in some accompanying vocals too they were totally in sync with what the other was doing despite having that rawness about them, something that is reflected in All Them Witches.
I really felt for Carley and Johnny as they gave it their all on the stage, encouraging the crowd to join in and sing along, difficult I know if you are unfamiliar with a band, but the vibe of the crowd during the whole night was not very “wild child” or “euphoric”, instead it was very British and very reserved. Towards the end of their set Carley did manage to get some chanting out of the crowd now that it was about three-quarters full, ironically the song that did it was “Cry Babies Go Home”. Stand out tracks I recommend are “Strychnine In My Lemonade” and “Bunny Run” and if you are in any doubt about catching these guys live, it might be worth pointing out that on a couple of the songs Carley is literally playing with a one string guitar with a wolf's tail attached! They are wild, they are screechy, they are banging and down right feral, they are The Ghost Wolves.
I have an unusual obsession with All Them Witches and I don't know when or how it happened exactly, perhaps it came from my upbringing, my dads music collection included the likes of Cream, Country Joe And the Fish, Led Zepplin, The Doors, The Animals and The Kinks... All I do know is that my love for All Them Witches magnified when I managed to catch them earlier in the year at a festival and, admittedly I had wet my lips with many cans of cider, but this time I was stone cold sober but the desire to just bliss out and stumble around in a head swaggering daze was still there. Psychedelic, blues, hard rock might not be to everyone's taste and some may say it's just riding the 70's nostalgia craze, but the actual talent involved in what is such a tight nit band is what just astounds me when I listen to these guys.
When they take the stage the crowd awaken and when the familiar sound of “When God Comes Back” hits the air, cheers erupt and a smile brims across my face.
Parks is an unassuming frontman, shrouded in darkness at the front of the stage, it just illustrates that this is a band who are in it together and all are equally valued in what is more like a family than a band.
Robby's drumming in “When God Comes Back” is ferocious and relentless and you could easily marvel at his intensity all night but he knocks the tone down a bit when Park's bass line perks up as they dive into the murky track; “3-5-7” off their new album, “Sleeping Through The War”. The ability for a bassist to drive a song like Parks does, shows craftsmanship and knowledge of his medium.
Throughout the night we are treated to a proper master-class all round with multiple tracks seeming to never end. Parks even jokes that we should grab popcorn as the audience are treated to over 10 minutes of more mastery in “Internet”, a track reminiscent to “Riders of the Storm” by The Doors.
A personal favourite track of mine is “The Death of Coyote Woman” Another lengthy track but this time Ben on the guitar, who you could almost miss as he stands almost in the shadows to the right of the stage takes you on a journey of intense guitar riffs that haunt you and takes you to another dimensional plane. Across the stage, Allan brings the 70's psychedelic vibe with his keyboard skills, most notable in the epic “Charles William”. Proving yet again that the limelight does not shine on one individual.
The whole night feels like one long jamming session, sure there are lulls when the noise of the crowd is more apparent, but it doesn't last long. Tracks like Alabaster, drum and bass heavy, set the crowd off into a subdued moshing frenzy and heads started swaying around as that guitar makes it's way through and infects your senses and your attention is once again all theirs.
All Them Witches just have this ability to get inside your head and it's like a seed has been planted and the more you listen to them, the more you experience them, the more this seed grows and it becomes rooted deep inside you. They become almost like a drug. Completely different live to on record but both can be appreciated for different reasons. Listening to the record you can't help but analyse each riff and each beat without taking it apart to better understand it. But in a live environment, anything analytical is just thrown out and you just embrace the magic.
If you're eager to indulge in their witchery then I suggest checking out standout tracks of the night; “Elk-Blood-Heart”, “Charles William” “Blood And Sand / Milk And Endless Waters”. There is a live album, which is perfect for those of us outside of the United States so check it out if you fancy spacing out for the night.
Review and Photography by Rachel Prew