Review: Moon Bullet at the George & Dragon

By Ed Sills

New Wave? Punk? Ska? Ever since see their inception people have been trying to slap genre labels on Moon Bullet’s sound, but trying to do so is both a waste of time and somewhat missing the point. Comparisons to the Blockheads are duly noted, but only so far as Julian Woodcock’s urgent and staccato style of singing. No, Moon Bullet have deep sense of who they are as a band and as innovators you almost get the feeling that they are purposely subverting genres, playing around with our expectations just because they can. That aside, they also put on one hell of a show.

Tonight the five piece band crammed onto the small stage, with guitarist Richard Battson - who physically towers over the other members - laying down some great muted Nile Rodgers-esque riffs throughout; his clean guitar sound quickly switching between rock and funk as required. Take the ridiculously catchy ‘Queen’s Finger’, a bouncy number carried along by Bassist Dave Sturt, on which Battson’s guitar work is one part late-Clash and one part Miserlou - a mash-up that here worked perfectly.

Midway through the set ‘Ska Borough’ cooled things down a bit with laid back grooves, scuzzy guitar and seaside nostalgia. It’s easy to forget that Moon Bullet are a super group, with former and current members of Gong, Seven Little Sisters and BB Blackdog all bringing something new to the mix. It’s a tight sound and that backbone of experience gives them the breathing space for someone like John Ferguson to come in and let rip on the saxophone as and when needed.

‘Jealousy’, a stripped back slow number, let Neil shine on the drums and showed off some of Julian’s more reflective, erstwhile lyrics. Not bad for a man in a blue jumpsuit. ‘I Phone’, over which Julian spits his fragmented free verse on modern techno-lust, ended the night with the front man jumping down off the stage to join the crowd in one last dance.

Honourable mention also goes out to supporting act Hot Rybena who, bolstered by new members, brought a bolder and bigger sound than ever before. Go see them if you haven’t already.