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Eastpak Antidote Tour 08 - Live
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London Astoria,

In the early hours of this very morning, Barack Obama was announced as the new US President, and - as you might expect from a tour dominated by American bands - there's a distinct celebratory vibe inside the Astoria tonight. Unfortunately the incompetence of London Underground prevents us from witnessing openers Time Again, but by most accounts their raw street-punk sounds went down well with the early birds.

Boston's very own Street Dogs are nothing if not a true band of the people, and in vocalist Mike McColgan, they have an engaging frontman who clearly doesn't care much for any kind of division between band and crowd. These guys play powerful, unpretentious rock n' roll, and they play it like it's the last chance they'll ever get. By the end of their set, the sea of pumping fists speaks volumes - this is seriously life-affirming stuff.

Skindred's multi-hued cocktail of dancehall, punk, dub and metal influences is somewhat at odds with the rest of the bill, so it's pleasing to see their arrival greeted with roars of approval from a crowd that are clearly in the mood to party. Benji Webbe and co don't let them down; with the Astoria arguably at risk of a premature demolition as the likes of 'State Of Emergency' detonate like ragga-metal smart bombs. Sound-wise, these guys are in a league of their own, and finally their punishing touring schedules seem to be paying off.

Flogging Molly first visited the UK six years ago, and proved a surprise highlight of the 2002 Deconstruction festival. Since then, countless flash-in-the-pan chancers have sold out the Astoria on the back of one or two hit singles and a shitload of hype - but it hasn't been such an easy ride for Flogging Molly. Needless to say, it's great to see a band finally make it to such a level through hard work and some excellent, honest music.

It's easy to forget just how many great tunes FM frontman Dave King has penned over the years; 'Drunken Lullabies' and 'Selfish Man' incite the heartiest jigging since the Pogues last played this fair city, whilst the ballad 'Whistles The Wind' prompts the loudest sing-along (and some seriously drunken swaying) of the evening. In between, Dave takes the time to exchange some banter with the crowd, and to take the piss out of a West Ham fan on the balcony. It's all good-natured, of course, and as the band rip through a finale of 'Seven Deadly Sins', it'd take a churlish punter to not salute these folk-punk troopers for a job well done. Thanks Eastpak. Alex Gosman

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