Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats

support Spiders
author AP date 09/06/19 venue Kulturbolaget, Malmö, SWE

Having missed out on the band’s concert in Denmark last year, there was no way I was going to also forego this Swedish exclusive by Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats only a short train ride away. Lord knows I try to avoid the gang-violence-infested Malmö as much as possible, but with the quartet’s 2018 album “Wasteland” still fresh in my mind, I decided to risk getting caught near another shootout and car chase, which, no joke, is what happened when I visited the city almost exactly one year ago to see Rise Against playing a rare intimate concert at the iconic Kulturbolaget. This is also the venue where tonight’s show is taking place, albeit the turnout is not quite as strong — perhaps due to the many locals still reeling from the nearby Sweden Rock Festival, which ended on the previous night. Be that as it may, there is nonetheless enough of a crowd here to motivate both the evening’s headliner and the Gothenburg-based support act Spiders to show their best colours.

All photos courtesy of Adriana Zak


My first encounter with Spiders incidentally also took place when the Swedish quintet was on support duty for Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats in Copenhagen in 2015. It was a lukewarm impression they made on me then, yet on home ground tonight the band seems totally transformed and makes me regret doubting their capabilities as purveyors of high-octane rock’n’roll. The five musicians could not look more retro if they tried, and appropriately, they also look to the past for inspiration for the style of hard rock they play in the likes of “Dead or Alive” (off 2018’s “Killer Machine”). While none of them can be blamed for slacking off as far as showmanship goes, it is without question vocalist Ann-Sofie Hoyles who invites the most attention with her Riot Grrrl-ish attitude, swagger and nimble moves. When she is not impressing us with the spectrum of her voice (which has that same gospel sound as Elin Larsson of Blues Pills), she is often seen lying on her back, frantically air-drumming, shaking a tambourine or maracas on her knees, or letting her blonde locks spin and whirl to the tune of a guitar solo by her sibling John Hoyles. She has a truly captivating stage presence and as such it is no surprise that she eclipses her hard-rocking cohorts most of the time. Still, Spiders are far from a one-woman act, as it is just as invigorating to dance and bang your head to the rhythms and riffs underlying songs like the steamrolling, Motörhead-esque “Hang Man” (taken from the group’s 2012 album “Flash Point”) as it is to stare at Ann-Sofie’s antics. When the band waves goodbye some 40 minutes later, it is thus no surprise to see the audience erupt into a flurry of loud cheering and applause. Simply put: this has been miles beyond the lacklustre set Spiders put on in Copenhagen four years ago, and it feels like the Swedish outfit have done more than enough to deserve a headlining concert of their own in Denmark in the near future.


Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats

To an extent, one always knows what to expect from this Cambridge-resident four-piece. There will be no light on the musicians, who instead will perform as silhouettes in the midst of rainbow hues. The lanky figure and long arms of lead guitarist and singer Kevin R. Starrs will give his movements a ghoulish character, and his wicked, Ozzy Osbourne-esque voice will inspire both chills and wonder. And last, but not least: the band will deliver a masterclass in how to perform tightly and symbiotically as a unit. All of these presumptions are rendered correct once again when the British quartet gets going with the wonderful “I See through You”, taken from 2018’s “Wasteland” LP, which makes me truly believe that Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats might be the best band of their kind right now, both as far as their records go and by virtue of their riveting showmanship. It is captivating to behold the passion that goes into each pluck and strike of a chord by Starrs, rhythm guitarist Vaughn Stokes and bassist Justin Smith during the tracks “Waiting for Blood” and “Mt. Abraxas” (the respective openers to 2015’s “The Night Creeper” and 2013’s “Mind Control”), and the often dimly lit stage adds some mystique to it as well. I cannot look away.

And yet despite doing everything right on paper — playing all the right singles such as “Mind Crawler”, “Crystal Spiders” and the deliciously occult yet catchy “Dead Eyes of London” from the group’s 2010 début “Vol. 1” — it is hard to shake the feeling that the magical sensation that so often arises at Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats’ concerts eludes us tonight. I am not sure that I can pinpoint exactly what the reason is, but the band seems to have trouble reaching out to the audience, which, while respectful, is not really reciprocating the intensity of the proceedings on stage. There is clapping and cheering in between the songs of course, but the goosebumps crawling down my spine during a dramatic rendition of “Melody Lane” as the penultimate track on the setlist are demanding company from the rest of the audience. I was not the biggest fan of the long wound “No Return” when I first heard it on the “Wasteland” record, but I must admit that it carries out its duty as the closing piece tonight admirably, seeming to gain plenty of extra oomph in the live setting so as to emphasise its doomy, progressive character. It puts a fine cork on another stone solid showing from Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats, albeit it leaves me hungering for another, even better fix of psychedelic doom-rock from these British gentlemen as soon as possible.



  • 01. I See through You
  • 02. Waiting for Blood
  • 03. Mt. Abraxas
  • 04. Mind Crawler
  • 05. Death’s Door
  • 06. Shockwave City
  • 07. Crystal Spiders
  • 08. Dead Eyes of London
  • 09. Pusher Man
  • 10. I’ll Cut You Down
  • 11. 13 Candles
  • 12. Melody Lane
  • 13. No Return

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