The Midnight Ghost Train arrive in the big smoke on an intensely sweltering, tarmac melting, hottest ever recorded day in July. To add to the tension, very close by to the venue the police are inspecting a suspicious package. Fortunately TMGT is the only explosion of the evening as they return to the Underworld after their DesertFest appearance of last year. Also, the relief is huge on entering the building and being hit by a refreshing wave of cold air.
TMGT have been touring for practically the whole year in support of their first and current worldwide release “Cold Was The Ground” album on Napalm Records. In doing so they have been quietly building a reputation as an energetic live experience. They start with a controlled hum of feedback and bass rumble, before Steve Moss‘ gravel-toned, latter-day Tom Waits-style vocal delivery showcases his tendency for the theatrics of hand gestures and wild facial expressions, in a shorter version of Waits‘ ‘Make It Rain’. Then the band kick in in unison and we’re off!
It’s no surprise that the set consists mainly of the aforementioned new album but the sheer ferocity of their performance is worthy of high praise as the songs really do take on a new power of their own. The band are incredibly tight and pack a mighty punch to the face as they are confident to slow things down, build them up or just erupt into furious rocking unity.
They do this with aplomb with ‘Shelter From The North’, ‘Arvonia’, ‘The Canfield’, ‘BC Tucker’, ‘Twin Souls’ and ‘One Last Shelter’. On every pause between vocal commitments Steve Moss fulfils his rocking out duties with bassist Mike Boyne, while the excellent Brandon Burghart‘s pounding drum rhythms completes this power trio. The Delta blues and Tom Waits influences are more noticeable live, none more than when Steve announces “This is for the lovely ladies so you hairy men can sit the fuck down” and proceeds to cover a somewhat heavier version of Nina Simone‘s ‘Feeling Good’, the antithesis to their own tales of revenge and tortured souls.
The Midnight Ghost Train are another example of men with beards who can sure as hell rock.