This show at the Black Heart in Camden is the launch show for Sarah Vista’s new album Killing Fever that is out now on 8-track, Cassette, Vinyl, Cd and download on Gallow Romantic Records so you have no excuses not to buy it unless you only listen to reel to reel or wax cylinder.
Sarah Vista are at the forefront of the Western scene in London and are some of the baddest folks west of the Holloway Road and as such attract a crowd of Cowboys and Cowgirls, many of whom look like they have just stepped out of a Spaghetti western.
Sarah Vista played two sets the first of which was the Country set for which the band wore white mainly as Sarah is joined by her Companeros Jeff “The Henchman” Mead on Lap Steel and Gretsch Guitar, Emma “The Sheriff” Goss on Double Bass and “Freight Train” Frankie Riedel on drums.
They made a more dramatic entrance than when I saw them at Camden Rocks earlier in the year after being introduced by London’s answer to Bill Monroe the band come on slowly and start to play A Day Late A Dollar Short as Sarah slowly walks on straps on her acoustic Gretsch guitar and starts singing about how it really was too late over the gentle country music the lyrics tell the dark tale.
After a few howdy’s these bad folks from the wrong side of town are gentle lulling us as Sarah sings and implores us Don’t Waste Your Lead On Me while sounding like Porter Waggoner’s natural heirs on This World It’s All Make Believe and well looking round she may be right. Sarah then makes sure Madam Moustache shows herself before playing the murder ballad about her love of a double barrelled gun that got the joint jumping.
Better Off Never Than Late has some wondrous Lap Steel from The Henchman as this great song telling the guy to not even bother trying it on if he knows what’s good for him goes down a storm.
For Belle Star Jeff switches from Lap Steel to a rather cool looking Gretsch to make the song a good bit twangier as we hear all about the bandit Queen and her exploits. Jeff swaps back to the Lap steel for the melodramatic and deadly Now You Are Sleeping and in a very permanent way.
You Know You Lie ups the stakes a bit with Jeff back on the Guitar once more slinging it like a colt 45 ready to rearrange the liars life prospects as The Sherrif ’s bass tries and fails to keep the peace once more. They close the first set with Shoot Luke Or Give Up The Gun that has a real gunfight on Haverstock Hill feel to it as they leave the stage to huge applause.
After the break some classic Morricone comes wafting over the Black Heart as the Ecstasy Of Gold heralds Dime Store Kult to the stage who also designed Sarah Vista’s backdrop to do his best Camden Clint routine as slowly the band now all in black arrive onstage.
This time The Henchman has his trusty twin neck Gretsch for protection they are joined by Charlie Hangdog and his harmonica and Adie Hardy on sombrero congas and western vibes as they start to play the Sarah Vista theme before gunfire erupts and Sarah joins them onstage as the theme morphs into Killing Fever evoking the pain of the victims she’s shot down on her way here.
This being the case we had better all get Three Coffins Ready as she’s about to get ready evening up the score and the band are backing her like their lives depend on it. Let’s face it if they really didn’t nail the tunes they would all be Dead On Arrival that I think was the first song I really noticed the Congas on.
The feeling we are in the middle of a Sergio Leone season continues on Hell At High Noon and we all know the price for surviving that hell is a visit to the County Jail only for a change this jail is full of female outlaws and bandits who are accompanied by some “twangtastic” guitar.
It seems that the easiest way to get out of the county jail is to of course Dig Yourself A Hole only the hole you are digging on this song is your own grave on a song that would work just as well re-worked in the style of The Crystalites Undertaker from The Big Gundown but this is pure Western with no reggae involved.
They close the set with I Wish You Hell a song that isn’t your usual audience thank you but works brilliantly and they leave the stage to some very loud applause.
As we waited for the encore suddenly Jill’s Theme starts to come over the PA as the band slowly return to the stage and start to play Fortune Teller as Sarah comes back onstage wearing a veil to sing this sad song. They then reprise Killing Fever to finish things off and make sure everyone went home happy from a really cool gig.
Simon Phillips, wordsmith and Simon Partington, lensman, were at Sarah Vista album launch at Black Heart, London on 25th October 2018.