Photo of the band The Rocketz

The Rocketz
May 22, 2024 – The Boat Shack, Aztec Adventure, Upton Warren, Bromsgrove

A cool, damp evening for mid-May didn’t seem to deter the cold water swimmers at Upton Warren, nor did it prevent a first visit to the wee Boat Shack Cafe where American rockabilly trio The Rocketz were about to perform. The venue is tight, the beer drinkable but damned if it’s not as chilled as the evening air. Rockabilly aficionados filled the venue, leaving me wondering if I need a hair stylist as I took in the colourful surroundings. The de rigueur double bass lay waiting across from the mandatory Gretsch, reclining on its amp, awaiting the trio from LA to step forward.

The Rocketz were ready. Frontman Tony Red-Horse seemed to have picked up a souvenir British summer cold, sounding a little blocked, but it didn’t affect the explosion of anarchic energy as songs rattled out like a Harley on full throttle. On the big, bad bass was Andrew Verdugo, and beating the drums with fervor was Todd Bowen.

Warming to the occasion seemed irrelevant; The Rocketz are hot out of the oven. Todd drove hard, the bass pumped underneath, and the Gretsch danced over the top with an occasional “ooh ooh agh” from Tony before breaking into The Rocketz’ signature song, ‘Gun Fighter,’ a sizzling introduction from the Californians. ‘I’m A Wolfman’ and ‘Rise Of The Undead’ seemed to sit a little more gently on the ears, even with the biting lyrics. On reflection, I’m not sure whether it was more huff and puff about three little pigs rather than releasing our inner werewolf. ‘Slip It In’ left nothing to the imagination, though the rockin’ Red-Horse added a few hand signals to leave us in no doubt, a lovely dirty groove with a punk flourish. ‘Round She Goes’ proved fast and furious, more V8 powered than home-grown Vauxhall Vectra-driven road bands.

The afterburners kicked in with a manic ‘I’ll See Again You Some Day,’ which definitely had a hint of Irish in the mash. Johnny Cash found his way in as did the boys from Liverpool with ‘Can’t Buy Me Love.’ What it lacked in harmony, it more than made up for with enthusiasm. Tony confessed his voice wasn’t great, even without the cold, more Bob Dylan than Lennon or McCartney. Andrew featured heavily with his big bass in a psychobilly ‘Razorblade,’ a close shave so near to Peaky Blinder country.

The Boat Shack serves up regular musical feasts to add to the menu. Check out their website for details of upcoming events. As I made to leave, there was time to catch a ‘Ring Of Fire’ and an as-yet-unnamed surf rocker. It had been a buzz, my ears would take a day or two to recover, but in the words of Arnie, I’ll be back.

By: Graham Munn

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