Queen Zee – The Prince Albert, Brighton – 22nd April 2018

Photo by Liam McMillen

The Prince Albert is a wonderful venue because it looks like it hasn’t changed in years. It has all the hallmarks of those dingy and dirty punk clubs that you see in the films. Like Brighton’s equivalent to CBGB’s, it represented the perfect venue to see rising Liverpudlian punks Queen Zee. Their Sunday night show, on one of the busiest weekends of the year so far, was everything you’d come to expect from the band: off-the-cuff, at times shambolic, but always a whole heap of fun, it proved that Queen Zee are a supremely confident band with talent by the shed-load.

The first support on the night were DITZ, who describe themselves as, “Noise rock”, which is an incredibly accurate description. The band put in a very impressive set, filled with hazy, overpowering noise, wobbling and fluctuating distortion with a reverb-drenched framework carried by captivating frontman Cal. Next up was Atlas Wynd, who were playing their third gig of a busy weekend. The Brighton three-piece have more than a little bit of a Queens of the Stone Age vibe to them with their desert-blues style riffs and coarse vocals from frontman Peter Chapman. They’re a very impressive live unit.

As shows go, for Queen Zee this is sure to be one that lives long in the memory for the band. Unfortunately, it will be for the wrong reasons as, only a few songs in, Zee’s guitar broke meaning for a large section of the set they were making it up as they went along. Such is the talent of the band, though, it was still a rollicking good time. Most of this is down to Zee, who is a captivating, unique and incredibly talented performer and, whether the band like it or not, this felt like a special showcase of the band rather than a straight down the line, standard set.

Opening with Electric Six’s ‘Gay Bar’ it was a taste of things to come as the band exhibited a number of covers throughout the night. From the likes of Beastie Boy’s ‘Sabotage’, all the way to Dizzee Rascal’s ‘Bonkers’ it was a mad, diverse set that was so utterly strange and extemporaneous that you were never quite sure where it was going to go next which made it exciting. It’s clear to see that Queen Zee gather influences from all over the spectrum of popular music and it makes them a more complete band because of it.

However, after a few more covers and a few on-stage jokes and stories by the band, they were able to continue with their ‘proper’ set. ‘Boy’, in particular, a song that highlights the dangers faced by transgender people, is where Queen Zee are at their best. Important lyrically, but still melodic, angry and boisterous, it’s one of the best exhibitions of the punk band at their best. Likewise, with ‘I Hate Your New Boyfriend’ which delivers some very clever wordplay to the band’s arsenal. There’s an immense amount of sarcasm and wit in the band’s lyrics whilst musically there’s a savage melodic development.

Utterly shambolic, but in the most charming way. If this is what Queen Zee can do without a guitar for most of the show, then the mind boggles to what they can do with all of their kit. Many bands would crumble under such pressure, but Queen Zee kept their cool, and confidently sashayed their way through a difficult period. Exciting lyrically, captivating onstage and a remarkable amount of fun, it’s clear to see why Queen Zee have been winning plaudits left, right and centre.

Liam McMillen

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