Opium Kitchen


Having spent the last year cooking up a secret recipe under the guise of relentless rehearsals Opium Kitchen have decided it is time to get out of that kitchen and start rattling those metaphorical pots and pans in the form of some live performances in front of some very live audiences. Made up of stalwarts on the Edinburgh music scene Robert King (The Scars), Jo Callis (Rezillos/ Human League), Russell Burn (Fire Engines), Colin Whitson and youngster William Baird (who may actually have been Brian Jones in a previous life) the Kitcheneers decided to unleash themselves on a very select few for a sneak preview. Taking the form of an invitation only open rehearsal a couple of weeks back I can report back that this wealth of years-some wag dubbed them OAPium Kitchen- actually acts as an advantage with the band drawing on an energy which belies their combined ages as well as a belief in the inherent ability of rock and roll to change your life in a way which would leave bands half their age quaking in their young pretenders heels.

Led by Robert King’s growling, prowling and stalking vocals snaking out lyrics from the demi-monde- a former romantic entanglement at a young age with Warhol Superstar, sometime Velvet Underground chanteuse and all round doyenne of doom, Nico, may have gone some way to igniting this particular muse- and the set highlight  was ‘The Mayor Of Pigalle’ which saw him dipping into the Dobie Gray/ Bryan Ferry classic ‘The In Crowd’ for an inspirational improvisation at a crucial moment taking the song to another dimension.

The band follow his lead with Baird driving the stratospheric energy with rifftastic  guitar, accompanied by a well executed selection of all the right poses, whilst Callis lends his unmistakeable pop sensibilities- this is the man who composed the perennial office and eighties party record ‘Don’t You Want Me’- to the proceedings, giving it an unmistakeable sense of structure. The rhythm section of Burn and Whitson anchor all this allowing the more fanciful three to play out their roles as front men. Yet not to be ignored, Burn bashes away with a primal yet instinctual frenzy at his skins whilst Whitson remains resolute in underpinning the right basslines steadfastly helming the whole groove.

Other songs in this short showcase included ‘Solitary Man’ , ‘Heroine’ ‘Be One’ , ‘Soup Queue’ and a re-make/re-model of the  Tom Waits classic ‘Heart Attack and Vine’ which fitted their ethos and musical template seamlessly, almost as if it had been tailor made for them.

What was noticeable about this performance however was that most of the band is from a generation where rock and roll had the ability to reshape your persona and help you attain a new vision of life and they draw on this to their credit. Their early influences ring loud and clear –Bowie, Bolan, Velvet Underground, Stooges, New York Dolls, Roxy Music, Sex Pistols, Clash, Patti Smith and Television all fit neatly into this category- and this is what sets them apart from the uninspiring younger generation of bands who have been drip fed Oasis as an influence and pop culture as blanded out slop spearheaded into their consciousness under the auspice of the demon Svengali Cowell and his X-crement Factor puppets.

This energy will hit the stage of the Citrus Club for its first outing proper on Friday November 16th and the year of solid rehearsals are already showing a band so tight it would take a blowtorch to separate them. Opium Kitchen are a band made up of five equally strong individuals all pulling together to regain their youthful vision and who still-thirty something years on- mean it maaaan!

Opium Kitchen play their debut gig supported by The Wrong Boyfriends and The 23’s at The Citrus Club, Grindlay Street Edinburgh 7pm -11pm.

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