The natural successor to the throne of Robert Plant is rising again. Just when Wolfmother’s Andrew Stockdale had seemed dead and buried this old head on young shoulders has gone and reminded every classic rock fan the world over of his true worth to a genre in desperate need of new blood.
Like an extra plucked from Life On Mars fused with the best bits of Lenny Kravitz and fueled by a whole heap of understated cool, this retro hero is a modern marvel steeped in 70s nostalgia. The scuzzy guitars, grinding rhythm sections and overblown solos spread liberally across the best bits of Wolfmother’s limited yet wonderful back catalogue belong to a bygone era and yet tonight they sounded strangely current. Stockdale, armed with his latest hired hands, sounds like Kings Of Leon should do had they not sold out after two sparkling rock albums. But whether this band really deserves the Wolfmother name is a debate which is set to rage long into the next decade. Good songs only ever become great songs when infused with the chemistry enjoyed by truly entwined musicians on the live stage.
This show was Stockdale strutting his stuff alongside three competent yet divorced colleagues. There is every chance this line-up still in its infancy will evolve into a crack rock unit but when elongated jams are part and parcel of your performance there is a need for improvisation above technicality. Wolfmother Mk II boast the latter in abundance but beyond their leader that creative spark is still missing.
Fortunately the songs culled from Cosmic Egg stand up alonsgide anything which made the cut on Wolfmother’s dazzling 2006 self-titled debut. And yet this is a record still burrowing its way into the consciousness of fans quite happy to wallow in the warm glow of that four-year-old statement of rocking intent. As a result only the classics captured the attention of all of the crowd.
White Unicorn was the obvious highlight, eclipsing even the expected encore that was Joker & The Thief. Even now it is difficult to comprehend just how Stockdale conceived two magical musical journeys at such a young age and how he had the confidence to unveil them to the world. Whatever happens to Wolfmother from here on in – whether the band’s charismatic frontman has another explosive falling out with his new buddies or whether this exciting act goes from strength to strength – these two titanic tunes are their legacy.
Given the right circumstances it seems there could be a whole lot more where they came from. But then Stockdale seems to avoid the right circumstances at all costs.