Bokassa and Florence Black deliver a night of pure energy and Metal fun

An evening at The Underworld proved a perfect revitalising tonic for the soul in the company of the three times three-piece lineups of Bokassa, Florence Black and Dramalove.

The Underworld – 22 October 2021

Words and Photography: Steve Ritchie

Dramalove

Doors at 6 pm and a 6:30 pm start for Dramalove proved a tough challenge for those travelling from outside of London, so it was with some disappointment that I only made the last ten minutes of their set. With great energy, it was a perfect way to start the evening, however, and their version of Wicked Game was a great mood enabler.

Their new track Stealth and the accompanying video is one to look out for. A band that is certainly worth keeping an eye out for.

Dramalove, Underworld, Camden
Dramalove. Photo: Steve Ritchie

Florence Black

A band that has certainly been making waves recently are Florence Black. The Merthyr Tydfil three-piece recently released their debut album Weight Of The World to well deserved rave reviews, and in Camden, they were great, tight and on top of their game.

The melodic Sun & Moon, a recent single, is a great track live. The third song in the set, the audience lapped up the chance to clap along at the start, joining in with cheers to strat-brandishing Tristan Thomas’s reverence of Merthyr Tydfil.

Florence Black, Underworld. Camden.
Florence Black. Photo: Steve Ritchie

Smoke was another standout song. “Why don’t you open your eyes?” the band sang during this beautifully heavy number.

“We will be back with a headline set,” Thomas promises before the band closes on the Budgie song Breadfan. This Florence Black version builds nicely, dragging the crowd along for the ride.

Thomas, along with bassist Jordan Evans and drummer Perry Davies are a great team, and Florence Black is a proper hard rock band. The upcoming tour supporting Phil Campbell And The Bastard Sons will see the bands rise continue, and this success is most certainly well deserved.

Florence Black, Underworld. Camden. 22 October 2021
Florence Black. Photo: Steve Ritchie

Bokassa

Last night of the tour, and singer/guitarist Jørn Kaarstad emerges on stage with a can of Marks and Spence pina colada in hand. Bokassa have certainly embraced this tour, and as for the description of cult band, they play this role wonderfully.

Bokassa, Underworld, 22 October 2021
Bokassa. Photo: Steve Ritchie

Bokassa are simply just great fun on stage. Kaarstad is great. His between-song conversations are fun, while drummer Olav Dowkes, and bassist Bård Linga, both doing something for ’80s American moustaches, look great, and the three guys’ enthusiasm is infectious. Dowkes is an animal behind the kit, while Linga certainly covers some miles on the stage.

Opening with the trio of Freelude, Last Night (Was a Real Massacre) and Mouthbreathers Inc., the “kings of stoner punk” waste no time in setting the tone for the evening. Great songs, performed wonderfully, that are seemingly complex but in an easy to listen to way, and they totally succeed in sucking the crowd in, judging by the rapturous applause.

Bokassa, Underworld, 22 October 2021
Bokassa. Photo: Steve Ritchie

Jørn Kaarstad reminds me of a Slovak friend of mine. Super confident in his role and abilities, he is able to entrance the audience. During the introduction to Hereticules, Jørn talks about Germans at the record label Napalm being serious and asking, “what the fuck is this shot?” in relation to the previous videos. “Ok, Germans, we hear you,” Jørn says. “The Germans were angry a few years before, but they didn’t like that outcome.”

Jørn continues, “Two unserious videos? Want to see us dance?” Hereticules was the resulting video. “Hello, come in. We’ve got everything,” Jørn says to plenty of smiles from the audience. With a great song, plenty of nodding heads, and a bit of cowbell, what is not to love here?

Bokassa, Underworld, 22 October 2021
Bokassa. Photo: Steve Ritchie

A toast of skål continues as Kaarstad talks about British gameshows, Bullseye, Barrymore, hotel rooms. And Gino D’Acampo, “the bee’s knees, I love his cooking shows. Family fortunes, not so great.”

With nine of the eleven songs from Molotov Rocktail featured tonight, there is further evidence that third album syndrome is not an issue for this Norwegian trio. The album is a really strong one, and tracks such as Careless (In The Age of Altruism) and So Long, Idiots! really shine through.

Returning for the encore, the Sweet Child Of Mine riff moves into Immortal Space Pirate 3: Too Old for This Sith, followed by Retaliation, then Five Finger Fuckhead, all proceeded to some amusement, by Elton John’s I’m Still Standing as the band break for the encore.

Bokassa, Underworld, 22 October 2021
Bokassa. Photo: Steve Ritchie

This was the last night of the tour, and you know the guys have had a blast. It is great for the crowd to be part of this, emerging from the horror of COVID-19 enforced breaks.

Moving into the bar area after the gig, one punter said there are “so many good bands out there you don’t know about.” Bokassa are certainly one and an hour and forty minutes in their company is certainly time well spent.

During a brief conversation with Bård Linga afterwards, I suggested that the crowd loved it and looked to have had a great time. “That’s what we want to do,” he said, and they do it so well.

Let’s just hope this is not a Brexit busting burst of what we will miss in the future.

Bokassa, Underworld, 22 October 2021
Bokassa. Photo: Steve Ritchie

Bokassa setlist

Freelude
Last Night (Was a Real Massacre)
Mouthbreathers Inc.
Burn it All (P.T.S.D.E.A.D)
Low (And Behold)
Charmed & Extremely Treacherous
Here Goes Nothing
Godless
Hereticules
Molotov Rocktail
So Long, Idiots!
Genocidal Tendencies
No Control
Careless (In The Age of Altruism)
Walker Texas Danger
War On Everything
Vultures
Immortal Space Pirate (The Stoner Anthem)
Captain Cold One

Encore:
Immortal Space Pirate 3: Too Old for This Sith
Retaliation
Five Finger Fuckhead

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