LIVE: The Urban Voodoo Machine – Highbury Garage, 04/12/2015

To say this hasn’t been an easy couple of years for the Urban Voodoo Machine would be an understatement. With the deaths of two members, Robb Skipper and Nick Marsh, within 12 months of each other, this is a band that’s been through hard times and tonight is their first London show since Marsh’s tragic passing in June.

However, as they take to the stage with the seasick blues of Lightnin’ From A Blue Sky and a frenetic Heroin (Put My Brothers In The Ground), it’s clear that the Voodoos mean business tonight. It’s a good year or two since this writer last caught them and tonight is like catching up with an old friend you’ve not seen for ages to discover that you still get on great with them.

Old favourites from the group’s first two albums like Orphan’s Lament, Always Out and Two Ships are given an airing, while last year’s excellent Love, Death And Drink album is well represented by cuts like new single Crazy Maria, Not With You and Pipe And Slippers Man. We get two new songs in the form of the dark Rusty Water & Coffin Nails and the more upbeat Hit The Road Rag from the upcoming fourth album, Hellbound Hymns, which frontman Paul-Ronney Angel informs us will be out 27 May.

It’s Goodnight My Dear which closes the main set though, and is touchingly dedicated to Skipper and Marsh which is the real highlight here – you can tell this one is a real gut-wrencher for the band and audience alike, and there’s something very cathartic about them playing it. Definitely a fitting tribute to fallen comrades.

Hopefully the bad luck that’s been plaguing the Voodoos in recent years has now run its course – rest assured they’re still out there ploughing on as ferociously as ever and are sounding as good as they always have. Any band who can put a big smile on my face at the end of a very long and stressful week are definitely a bit special and deserve to be cherished. Bring on that new album, on this evidence it should be a belter.