Tucked away on Acton Mews E8 in a railway arch is the rather splendid Signature Brew Taproom & Venue. Selling a selection of craft beers, this is also a very cool music venue. In attendance this evening is quite a diverse selection of people including a small pocket of psychobillies, punks replete with armfuls of tattoos, hipster types, and quite a few normal people. The turnout is actually rather healthy for a school night and everyone is here to see Brocker.
Brocker are a punk rock band hailing from St Albans, who have just released their third self-produced album entitled Shambolic and it is to celebrate this event that the assembled have turned up. For the first, and perhaps the last, time the band will play the entirety of their new album from start to finish.
The set kicks off with Machine. I’m not sure what it is about punk bands, but they frequently seem to have terrific bass players and Brocker are no exception. With its reprise of “I don’t want you, I don’t need you” this is a song that could easily have come off a Bad Religion album.
The second song, Inferno, is a very up-tempo number and is nicely done with chugging guitar accompanied by nifty work on the bass and the sledgehammer drums that characterise the whole album. The next song that the band plays, Something About Devils, is also the single and is marked by very nice dynamics, a strong sense of melody, and all-round very good musicianship. The guitar playing of Pako is especially impressive and this is a great song that even includes the requisite “woah, woah” punk section.
The fourth song is Gasoline, which bassist Ky helpfully informs us is the American word for petrol. This is quite a hard and fast number that really works. It’s followed by Stereo, which also moves along at a fair old rate of knots and has a sort of Motorhead feel to it, with the guitar sounding a bit like Ace Of Spades. At this point, drummer Janchi enquired what the crowd thought of the new album. “Shit!” came the reply quick as a flash, to everyone’s amusement.
Stoffel is the band’s first foray into the realm of ska punk on this album and they do it rather well, combining the off-beat pattern with a sing-along punk chorus. The song interestingly was penned by Janchi, and it is perfectly evident from this that he is not suffering from delusions of grandeur.
Outside The Box sees the pace slowed a little, but there is a strong sense of melody here, with an especially tuneful guitar solo. “Don’t believe everything you read” is obviously a lament about the state of the media, which, in a time of fake news, seems entirely apt. The pace is immediately upped on the next track, Distorted, with a very nice riff, rather like the now sadly defunct band Knocksville. The song also has nice dynamics and the harmonies are a little reminiscent of Mega City Four. It is a good song!
Hellride is a classic US-style punk song and would not be out of place on an Offspring album. Underworld is a much more measured song, which again has nice use of harmonies and a rather good breakdown section with delightful bass playing. Taking its place halfway through the set is Mayday, another good track with a ska section in it followed by a rather classy guitar solo. If anything, the song has rather too much in it.
The straightforward rocker Alcohol & Rock N’ Roll again makes good use of backing vocals as well as the soloing talents of Pako who proves himself to be a very fine wielder of the Gretsch. Nowadays, which concludes the album, begins with just the bass before the drums join in and then the guitar, but thereafter the song is fairly standard punk and is to my ears probably the weakest song of the album. No sooner had they finished this song when the bass player launched into the introduction to Ace Of Spades, which concluded their set.
Taken as a whole, this was a very impressive set by a band that certainly knows its onions when it comes to punk. All three members are fine musicians and the vocals were spot on. So, all in all, this was a jolly good night, especially for a school night. I take my hat off to Brocker for a tip-top show and a fitting launch for their new album, that is anything but, Shambolic!
Live Review by Nick Kemp & Photography by Pauline Di Silvestro of Brocker album launch at Signature Brew Taproom & Venue on 17th October 2019.