Daxx & Roxane/Collateral/Temple Of One @London Borderline, May 18 2019
In the same week that Borderline bosses confirmed their world famous venue would no longer be a breeding ground for the very best in new rock talent, it was entirely fitting that three of the genre’s fast-emerging standard bearers celebrated live music in such uncompromising style.
Temple Of One – playing their debut show – joined fast-rising hair metal throwbacks Collateral and robust headliners Daxx & Roxane on an eclectic bill that oozed potential and screamed quality. And if the clock is ticking on the Borderline’s summer closure then this was more about an exciting future than a storied past.
The decision to lock the doors on another of Soho’s longstanding entertainment institutions had been met by a mixture of anger and frustration: Temple Of One frontman Colin Parkinson appeared angrier than most as he launched headlong into a furious display of focused aggression.
Long since freed from the shackles of former band Inglorious, the bass playing singer looked and sounded like a musician reborn. Lead single The Cards always threatened to be a firm live favourite and so it proved but that cool cut’s emotive follow-up – the brilliantly bittersweet Song Of Hope – is even better. Parkinson excelled on the soaring highs and rumbling lows of a tune that stopped the background banter dead in its tracks and started the rise of Temple Of One there and then.
Guitarist Drew Lowe – last seen starring in the touring musical Rock Of Ages – has always been easy on the eye and generous on the ears but never has he seemed quite so comfortable. Slow-burning riffs and fast-fingered solos punctuated a firebrand performance from another of TOO’s Inglorious alumni. And is there a better drummer than David ‘Greenie’ Green? Duran Duran’s Andy Taylor has the bloke on speed dial, he was named Best New Drummer by Rhythm Magazine in 2016 and he’s the go-to guy when X Factor bosses want some quality behind the kit. All he needed was a band. Now he’s got that too.
And what a band. Catch them live and it won’t be too long before you’re worshipping at the Temple Of One.
Following – let alone matching -such a feisty opening set would have been beyond most bands. But Kent’s Collateral aren’t most bands. Cocksure doesn’t quite do justice the level of self-confidence coursing through the veins of this brazen quartet and if superstardom was a reward for posturing alone then this lot would already be plastered across billboards worldwide. Crucially, however, Collateral boast the moves…and the grooves.
If Steel Panther poke fun at 80s hair bands then one of the UK’s must-see live acts celebrate a proud legacy and respect the past. Only Collateral could open with a song quite as brazen as Big Shot but they pulled it off with aplomb and went on to bombard the Borderline with blast after blast of polished pop rock built on big hooks and even bigger choruses. Angelo Tristan is like a modern-day Sebastian Bach with his powerful pipes and flowing locks and when it comes to working a crowd – and the cameras – there’s nobody better. The countryfied About This Boy, über-catchy single Midnight Queen and singalong monster Merry Go Round went down a storm with sensational six-stringer Todd Winger frequently threatening to steal the show.
And so it was with a degree of trepidation that headliners Daxx & Roxane were welcomed to the stage. The gauntlet had been well and truly thrown down by the time the Swiss quartet took a collective deep breath and faced a full house whipped into a frenzy by two support bands who’d gone above and beyond their status as warm-up acts. The pressure was on. And then some.
Problems with the band’s monitors didn’t help settle any early show nerves but London-based Daxx have gained a deserved reputation on the London scene for faultless live performances underpinned by some seriously special songs. With every fresh gig their stagecraft soars and a collective confidence grows – a long stint on the road with Bad Touch was no bad thing. Expectations were high and understandably so.
And by the time frontman Cédric Pfister carefully felt his way through the Stevie Wonder cover Superstitious, it felt like Daxx had finally hit their stride. But they need more songs like Ticket To Ride. More fist-pumping anthems in the mould of Junk Food Hangover and more of the energy and unbridled optimism that made 2018 such a breakout year.
Where Collateral kicked ass and Temple Of One took no prisoners, the headliners lacked their usual cut-and-thrust swagger. Perhaps it was the occasion. Perhaps it was the pressure. Or perhaps Daxx were simply victims of circumstance on a night when the competition was insanely intense.