The Urban Voodoo Machine. Live *****

The musical collective led by Norwegian rocker Paul-Ronney Angel is currently touring the UK to celebrate twenty years of glorious madness.

Playing Guildford’s intimate and atmospheric Boileroom venue, the seven-piece processed to the stage through the audience to the UVM theme. For the next ninety minutes the venue was transformed and the audience transfixed by the meticulous musical mayhem produced by the group. With roots in rock and roll, gospel and New Orleans blues, the outfit constantly delivers a compelling live performance, with a fluid base of musicians drawn from its large musical family. 

A discordant rocky intro leads into Empty Plastic Cup from the band’s new album Snake Engine Oil, an uptempo number with salsa overtones, prompting dancing at the back of the room. The group’s trademark heavy percussion, with dual drummers J-Roni-Moe and Gary Voodoo at the heart of the band, sets the tone for the evening’s performance. The lyrics are, as many of the band’s songs, protest words about life in modern Britain “There’s nothing left for the next generation to worry about.”  More recently recorded numbers followed with the catchy Living In Fear and the heavy blues beat of Johnny Foreigner

Singer Angel dedicated an impassioned Goodnight My Dear to the memory of Tina Turner, whose passing had been announced in the hour before the group came on stage. The singer had led a minute’s raucous noise and applause for the Queen of Rock and Roll.

“It’s a Wednesday night in Guildford. Do you want to hear a drinking song?” prefaced the New Orleans honkytonk of Rusty Water & Coffin Nails, full of pathos and drama. 

No review of the Urban Voodoos would be complete without highlighting founder and lead singer Paul-Ronney Angel. He is the consummate master showman, charismatic, mesmeric, energetic, snarling protest or self-deprecating lyrics with venom and majestically interacting with the audience. An Urban Voodoo Machine gig is a theatrical affair. 

The hilariously irreverent Help Me Jesus saw Angel and his trumpeter Harrison Cole go walkabout in the crowd and the band finished the main set with a barnstorming Goodbye To Another Year

Pipe and Slippers Man began the encore, with Angel on banjo, bringing back support act Millie Watson for the final number, the 1929 gospel classic I’ll Fly Away  whereupon the band processed off the stage, still playing, audience singing, leaving double-bassist “Reverend” Gavin Smith to quietly wrap things up from the stage. 

The Urban Voodoo Machine rocks and rolls on. And on. Gloriously. 

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