Dirty Honey + HIMALAYAS @ The Craufurd Arms, Wolverton – 22nd January 2023

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When it comes to music, Wales is a country that punches far above its weight. From Budgie to the Manic Street Preachers, it has consistently produced bands of all different stripes who’ve changed the course of popular music. Now you can add Cardiff’s HIMALAYAS to that illustrious list, a rather likeable bunch who peddle a raucous brand of rock much in the vein of early Faces. With a name that conjures the image of something vast and immovable, they make great use of musical dynamics and deliver a sound that’s full of huge peaks and troughs. New single ‘Into The Trap’ is a definite highlight and signposts lofty peaks.

As much as the mainstream media keep pushing genres such as hip hop and grime, the excitement surrounding tonight’s headliners Dirty Honey proves that there’s still a huge appetite for old school, raunchy rock n’ roll. This gig sold out in double quick time with those lucky enough to snap up a ticket packing in tightly centre stage and the buzz they create electrifies the air and is almost tangible. AC/DC’s ‘Rock N’ Roll Damnation’ is used as an intro tape and as Bon Scott’s tones ring out, the level of expectation reaches an unbearable level, but the dam bursts when the band arrive and launch into a high-octane ‘Gypsy’. If a better set opener has been written, I’m yet to hear it and ‘Gypsy’ has all but the infirm and frail shaking their tush. Such is the life-affirming nature of Dirty Honey’s sound that it should really be prescribed on the NHS. Outside the venue war and pestilence may be raging, but inside Dirty Honey are throwing a party with 200 close friends and the only stipulation to the invite, is you leave your troubles at the door.

Like The Black Crowes wrapped up with Led Zeppelin and delivered with the sassiness of Guns N’ Roses, Dirty Honey remind me why I originally fell in love with rock music and tracks such as ‘Scars’ and ‘Tied Up’ are the very epitome of cool. An impeccable cover of Zeppelin’s ‘What Is And What Should Never Be’ explores a few roots, as does Prince’s ‘Let’s Go Crazy’ and while the two may seem diametrically opposed, the band conjoin them perfectly and when combined in the same set perfectly encapsulate the band’s groovy brand of rock n’ roll. In Marc LaBelle they’ve the quintessential frontman and he throws all the right shapes while bassist Justin Smolian and guitarist John Notto radiate Californian sunshine (which is possibly why they wear shades on stage). New drummer Jaydon Bean has made the stool his own and provides a solid backbeat on ‘Another Last Time’ and set closer ‘When I’m Gone’. Of course, they return for a well-deserved encore and a sublime ‘Rolling 7’s’ ensures no one leaves disappointed.

As the more established bands start disappearing into the sunset, the burning question at every music festival is who will be future headliners? Dirty Honey is the answer.

Dirt Honey Set List:

1. Gypsy
2. Break You
3. Heartbreaker
4. The Wire
5. Scars
6. Tied Up
7. What Is And What Should Never Be (Led Zeppelin cover)
8. No Warning
9. Down The Road
10. Ride On
11. Let’s Go Crazy (Prince cover)
12. California Dreamin’
13. Another Last Time
14. When I’m Gone
Encore:
15. Rolling 7’s

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