Slam Cartel Live at Sonisphere 2011

As much as seeing the familiar big names, Music festivals are all about discovering your next favourite band. Now here at CB we get sent a load of music, almost too much to keep up with, but just occasionally something drops through the letterbox that really catches the attention.

One such recent arrival was Handful Of Dreams, the debut release from London rockers Slam Cartel. We have been listening to this one quite a lot since it dropped on the mat and when we noticed that the band were going to be playing the Jager stage at Sonisphere we marked them down as one to check out. They have a distinctive sound. It’s Rock’n’Roll certainly but with a touch of grunge and a big, commercial (in a good way) sound.

The band kicked off their short set with their  cover version of Talking Head’s Once In A Lifetime. It’s always a brave move taking a new slant on a classic track but this rocked-up version works well on CD and is even better live. It’s a cover that draws people in to watch the set, everyone knows the words and frontman Giles Van Lane even manages to elicit a sing along from the decent sized crowd.

The band keep the crowd’s interest going with Handful Of Dreams, an infectious slice of guitar driven Rock’N’Roll, just perfect for the early evening sunshine. It’s always risky advocating bands to see at festivals but the various members of team CB that I’d dragged along to see this were clearly having a great time.

My favourite track from their upcoming album was up next, It’s difficult to describe Wishing Eye. It kicks off with a neat grungey riff before a real anthemic stadium-huge vibe kicks in.

The slow burning Hold Me was a brave choice given the short set time the band had but the way it builds up from a slow, emotional start carried the crowd along, holding our interest until the big riffs and bigger vocals come out to play.

The stadium rocker feel is back for Powerstorm, Giles Van Lane has a bloody good voice and a stage presence that belies the band’s relatively small status. In fact that’s probably true of the whole band. Terence Warville and Tom Hendriksen on guitar don’t do the rockstar shape throwing thing, they very much let their playing speak for itself and leave center stage to their frontman.

The set closes with, appropriately, Sundown which captures all of the various elements that go to make this band so good in one track, kicking off with Steve Campkin’s drums before Adam Lee’s Keyboards and Marc Neudeck’s Bass enter the fray one by one.

Slam Cartel were a band I had fairly high expectations of before I saw them at Soni, and those expectations were more than met by their live performance. It’s always a good thing if the worst a reviewer can say is “the set wasn’t long enough”, and that’s how this performance left me feeling.