Walking Papers at BorderlineSupport: Paceshifters
September 18, 2018 at Borderline
Promoter: Matt Reynolds
You’ve got to hand it to the Walking Papers, and especially to vocalist Jeff Angell’s patience, pragmatism, steely determination, and even vision, as they carry out a fresh approach in the aftermath of obstacles put in their path. Having seen former Screaming Trees drummer Barrett Martin and bassist Duff McKagan both leave (the latter due to his original little ole band Guns ‘N’ Roses return to the touring circuit to make some serious dosh) the Walking Papers have had to deal with an enforced hiatus and a delayed second album release; but now an amended new line-up sees a European tour including seven UK dates, which at London’s Borderline they perform with relish and zeal.
But before then, the black-jeans, black t-shirts-clad young trio Paceshifters, alerted this reviewer of promise due to the bassist sporting a Death Angel tee. Although no thrash band, they are thankfully no hair-metal or modern-day Nickelback-sounding bland rock you hear too much on Planet Rock Radio these days. Instead, a thoroughly committed energetic display of a no-nonsense mix of Nirvana (helped by guitarist/vocalist’s lurching Kurt Cobain to-and fro-rocking moves), early Buffalo Tom, and Screaming Trees. Although not all the songs were immediate on a first listen, they show a maturity in their loud/quiet style and deserve the good reaction and response from the crowd.
The afore-mentioned fresh approach is in evident from the moment the Walking Papers emerge on stage. The additional saxophonist expands and pushes to the fore their bluesy, soulful elements, with the opener and newly re-worked version of one of their heaviest songs ‘This Is How It Ends’ now a smokey, bluesy, jazz atmospheric simmerer. While the addition of acoustic bass to the first two songs also highlights a band unafraid to stretch their sound into less rockier roads.
When they do kick in with their harder, bluesy rock sound, as on the smouldering ‘Death on the Lips’, their performance just keeps building. Angell relishes the spotlight, constantly in motion across the stage, deeply raptured in the music (so is Benjamin Anderson in his enthusiastic delivery of keys and backing vocals), lurching over the stage, swinging his microphone enthusiastically (keeping his fellow band members and crowd vigilantly on their toes) and even walking around the crowd to sing and dance to a couple of songs while the band are in full swing.
Angell is a confident performer, naturally engages, and responds to shout-outs by “the most beautiful, good looking crowd” he has seen, with wit, humour, and smiles. The crowd love this, and when he hears many shout-outs of “I love you” disrupt a quiet emotional part in one of his storytelling songs, he responds with a smile and goes with the flow: ‘”keep it coming, I can stand here all night.” And he is full of apologies when he pushes his microphone over and accidentally hits someone in the front row.
The whole band are clearly relishing this opportunity to tour and demonstrate that hard-to-nail skill of being incredibly tight while able to possess a looseness in their groove. Songs which burst out with extra vibrancy are ‘Your Secret’s Safe With Me’, ‘The Whole World’s Watching’, ‘Two Tickets and a Room’, ‘Hard to Look Away’, ‘Into the Truth’. I could go on. Walking Papers are proof, if any more was needed, that seeing a band currently on fire in a small, intimate venue is still an unbeatable experience. Hopefully, this line-up can maintain stability for many more future endeavours. A classy show by a classy, evolving band.