It’s been a while coming, but finally, we got to see Mercutio in full-blown headline slot action at The Camden Assembly, and the sold-out venue lapped up their 13-song set, which featured their entire Antagonist album plus two new tracks.
Mercutio – Camden Assembly – 20 May 2022
Words and Photography: Steve Ritchie
Having seen Mercutio a couple of times on their tour with Inglorious, where they shone for a ‘new’ crowd, the thought of seeing the band in their element performing the deeper cuts of their excellent Antagnist album was a mouthwatering prospect.
Mercutio certainly did not disappoint on an evening packed with a high energy performance featuring appearances by Ben Gunnary and his violin and the fantastic vocals of Jodie Samantha Steele.
No Rules, the recently released Mercutio version of the Dua Lipa song, opened the set and set the mood for the eager crowd. This, and set closer (and brand new song) Celebrity, are enticing examples of the results from the new studio time, where the band has been working on preparing their next album.
A thunderous run through of Slap Bang ran into the atmospheric Alex and the first appearance of the talented Gunnary. Where The Pain Lives is a fantastic song that works tremendously well live. Fabio Staffieri’s riff is the backbone of the track, and while Ross William Wild is in impeccable form all evening, leading from the front, this song is a superb example of the brilliance of drummer Edoardo Mariotti and bassist Andrea Lonardi in skillfully pushing the songs along.
The first of the deeper album cuts is The Ghost That Is You, which heralds the appearance of the supremely talented Jodie Samantha Steele on co-vocal. Live, this track works well, with Steele a perfect match against Wild.
The uptempo and deliriously foot-tappable Chaos Is King, with more violin, leads into Playtime and Shed Your Skin, and we are into the home straight.
C Word and the underrated Revolution lead into A Part Of Me, one of the most emotive tracks on Antagonist, built around a stunning Staffieri riff. Personally, as one of the tracks I was most looking forward to hear live, I could have done without the accompanying violin this time to concentrate my ears on that riff and enjoy my Guinness at the back of the room. But that is just me being picky.
But a crowd crescendo it was, and the wonderfully reworked Terraferma, followed by the new track Celebrity, closed the evening to rapturous applause and demands for more.
“Over the last two years, I’ve turned down ‘money making opportunities’, shunned ‘steady work’ and stuck one or two fingers up to the system in order to get this band to where it got to the other night,” Ross wrote on social media. “…and you all made it worthwhile. Watch this fuckin space…because I promise you…Mercutio are about to take over.”
He might just be right, too. Mercutio have emerged from the Covid-19 enforced break with a fantastic album, a tantalising high energy live set and, with No Rules and Celebrity, a big enough tease to suggest that the next album cycle will be really something special.
Their festival bookings this year are on an ever-growing list, and, let’s face it, everyone who was there on Friday would love to do that whole evening again.