Filed under: gigs, music | Tags: rival schools, spy catcher, the borderline, walter schreifels
The Borderline is a venue I’d been to a couple of times in the past, to see ASIWYFA and the Xtra Mile showcase, and it’s one of my favourite venues in London along with Scala so I was rather excited to see that Walter was playing here.
There had been some confusion as to what the lineup was going to be for the night with tickets and websites all saying different things from just Walter to Walter Schreifels (Rival Schools) etc. In the end, it turned out that it was to be a solo show from Walter but with a band consisting of former band members or from other hardcore bands from the same era.
For those that don’t know, Walter has been part of a number of influential (but not necessarily well known) bands during the 80s and 90s, such as Gorilla Biscuits, CIV and Rival Schools. Last year, however, he released ‘An Open Letter To The Scene’ which was his first solo album and the one that he was touring with.
On the night, I got to the Borderline a little late so missed the opening support (Felix Gabhard) but caught the majority of the main support, Spy Catcher. They are normally a moderately heavy rock band but to keep with the theme of the night, they were playing a full band, acoustic set. They were enjoyable enough and a good warmup for the main act but I can’t say too much more than that except that the lead singer had a really good “rock” voice. The set worked well acoustically but I do now wonder what their normal set would sound like.
And so Mr Walter Schreifels himself, and band as already mentioned, took to the stage and I was in prime location to enjoy it. The set was a slightly odd one for me as there was a mix of material off the solo album but a whole host of songs I didn’t know. The latter seemed to be a mix of new tracks and older material that I wasn’t familiar with (but these were definitely in the minority).
Walter himself switched between acoustic and electric guitars for various tracks and even took to harmonica for a couple of numbers which gave a nice mix to the overall sound of the tracks, whether I knew them or not. The addition of a band also gave the solo tracks a different flavour live to how they sounded on record and made the live experience much more enjoyable than if he had just played them straight acoustically.
The cover of Agnostic Front’s ‘Society Suckers’ was one such track that benefited from the full band but the highlight of the set, and the album itself, is the album’s title track ‘An Open Letter’ which builds and drops at just the right moments and is just a great song. And for someone who was in so many hardcore bands in the past, Walter realy does have a fantastic voice and from a purely vocal perspective, he’s one of the best I’ve seen in a while.
In between tracks was almost as good fun as the music itself with some of the chat from Walter and the band, such as the charade when they lost the keyboard player when they came back out for the encore, and Walter just exudes an aura of coolness as well. One of the encore tracks though was an odd number with Walter playing bass and singing and being joined by Felix Gabhard while they seemingly were trying to tidy up around him but the band were all back for one final number after that.
I really enjoyed the show from these guys and it was great to have such a good spot to enjoy it from. I had hoped for one or two older songs but I can understand that he’s moved on from there so may not want to play them these days. But what the night so great for me was that the whole band were fantastically talented musicians which was great to watch but in addition, they all just seemed to really enjoy playing together and being on stage. That, in combination with the material they were playing, made it a great show rather than just a good one for me.