live reviews

Lee Aaron @ The Robin, Bilston, Wolverhampton 17th July 2017

posted 10 Aug 2017, 15:53 by Paul Woodward   [ updated 12 Aug 2017, 15:24 ]

Review by Woody

Over the course of 2017 I have fast become a massive fan of West Midlands AOR act Iconic Eye, a band who are fast on the rise and winning new fans with every gig and release. The band recently released the Time EP which featured re-recorded versions of a few songs from the band’s debut album Hidden in Plain Sight, this is so fans can get a taste of how the band sound with new members Janey Gillard and Robin Mitchard – Which I think is an essential purchase.

Tonight, I felt the band weren’t as explosive as the last time I saw them when they supported Hardline, but they were still very dynamic and exuded confidence on stage and above else they were highly entertaining throughout their set. Tonight, saw the first live performance from their new drummer (I’m sure I’m going to get slapped for not remembering this guy’s name) and new bassist Mike Dagnall (ex-Dante Fox) who both put in strong performances with Dagnell fitting in with the energy of the bands live performances with ease and bouncing round the stage with a huge smile throughout.

Guitarist Greg Dean has taken on a very strong and confident stage presence whilst young guitarist Robin Mitchard swoops round the stage laying down licks like the guitar heroes of a bygone era – he also takes great pleasure in pointing out his name is in big letters behind him!

I adore front woman Janey Gillard who from my point of view is very important and is the main catalyst to me in increasing the bands popularity. From a live perspective Janey is extremely enjoyable to watch as she dances and rocks out and this enhances the impact of the band in the live arena – adding to that Robin’s natural guitar virtuoso stage presence they have become a very exciting live act to watch!

Janey has breathed life into Dean’s compositions, I found the debut album lacked heart and whilst the performances of Lee Small and original frontman Tim Dawes were sonically spot on – the songs felt lifeless to me. This is where Janey has kicked Iconic Eye up a notch and taken the band forward, she has given these songs some heart and delivers them with emotional connectivity and this is where Iconic Eye win me over. Janey has a strong voice and can really wail when needed – but it’s the emotive nature of her delivery and even at times some fragility which have really captured me and tonight I was treated to Janey doing this at her best.

Tonight, Janey seemed a little tongue in between songs, which was unusual as Janey comes across very confidently on stage, but she still engaged the audience and was her usual bubbly and funny self, albeit a tad more seemingly unsure. Vocally she was as amazing as ever and really benefitted from the better sound they got tonight, I felt with Hardline the sound was a little off for them so tonight the band as whole came across even better sonically.

The set list was well chosen and paced maintaining the high energy the band like to deliver. Opening with ‘You Make It’ then through ‘Don’t Stop Me From Leaving’, ‘All She Needed’ and ‘Now That I Have Found Love’. Ballad ‘Let It Rain Down’ has become really poignant, even more so following the sad passing of former bass player Gaz Slater. ‘A Better Place’ is now sung in a slightly higher register to fit Janey’s voice more naturally and the song is a thousand times better because of it. My favourite song again tonight was ‘You Knew’ which is delivered with dramatic aplomb and is instantly compelling and energising – I adore Janey’s vocals on this chorus it really gets stuck in my head and I would love to hear Janey re-record this track!

Closing with their radio friendly singalong ‘I Can Feel It’ which is undeniably catchy and Janey encourages the audience to sing along – although not as loud as when supporting Hardline, it’s still nice to hear people get involved! Now normally I’m funny with cover songs especially as the final song, FM did my head in years for years with ‘Heard It Through The Grapevine’ (Yawn!) but Iconic Eye’s take on Jefferson Starship classic ‘Jane’ fit’s like a glove and Janey delivers it perfectly and it always finishes an Iconic Eye set on a high!

They have an album launch scheduled for 17th of November at the Station in Cannock – I highly recommend you be there!

I never ever thought I would ever get the chance see Canadian rock legend Lee Aaron live so I’ve been rather excitable about this gig since its announcement and the fact it was happening at my favourite venue The Robin only intensified my anticipation and excitement. I was not left disappointed Lee was bang on form and vocally flawless and jaw dropping impressive throughout – when you see a bucket-list band/singer this is the sort of performance you hope for and Lee left none of her fans disappointed with her lively performance. I really hope this is the start of her coming to these shores frequently in the future as she and not neglecting her band are simply stunning live.

Her latest album Fire and Gasoline really impressed me and has been on constant rotation since I got it so I was keen to hear some of it live tonight and was immediately pleased as they opened with a rambunctious performance of the pop rocking ‘Tom Boy’. The set was extremely varied and touched on all aspects of Aaron’s very eclectic back catalogue which I really enjoyed and embraced as a fan although there was a fair few different styles on display tonight. You got the glam rock of ‘What You Do To My Body’, ‘Sex With Love’, ‘Hands On’ and ‘Some Girl’s Do’ as well as in contrast some blues covers alongside the blues-ier style of her new album in ‘Fire and Gasoline’.

For me the heart stopping fanboy moment of the night was from Lee’s AOR phase, ‘Powerline’, those keyboards could have made me explode even before Lee got to that slick and catchy chorus she then neatly segues into ‘Lady Of The Darkest Night’ which is delivered with melodic majesty! Obviously, this early cut was from her ‘Metal Queen’ album but I felt tonight was delivered in a slicker more AOR way than on that album.

We were treated to a new song – which I think was called ‘Diamond’ which was very impressive and sticks true to Lee’s on-stage comments that her next album will be in Blues based hard rock territory. Lee’s next album is already being recorded and it’s good to see her following up ‘Fire and Gasoline’ with a new album so soon!

Lee finishes a great and enjoyable set with ‘Metal Queen’ which was delivered in booming chest beating style as you’d expect from her early Metal phase. A thunderous way to conclude a very eclectic and delightful evening of rock and roll! Here’s hoping she comes back soon – I hope she knows Led Zeppelin are from right here in the Black Country – So if you’re going to release an album of blues based hard rock you’ve got to come and play one of the genre’s greatest bands heartland, right?

One of the best gig’s I’ve ever been too and I’m ecstatic she came to play a venue like the Robin, which gave her a great sound which showcased her songs in their best possible light. Lee was a delight to watch perform and she’s a natural born rock star live, I enjoyed her in-between songs banter and she’s still as beautiful as when her career started way back in the Eighties. Aaron was pleased to see so many women in the audience as she points out her previous shows on this European tour have been male dominated! There is so much more to Lee than a pretty face, she has a powerful rock vocal and is extremely versatile as can be heard from her eclectic body of work – so it’s good that she saw this mixed crowd as a positive rather than a bunch of horny dude’s coming to stare at her!

If she comes to the UK next year I highly recommend getting your asses out to see her, you won’t be disappointed – long live the ‘Metal Queen’!

Electus + Wakedown + Crows and Crosses + Michael Pritchard @ The Robin, Bilston, Wolverhampton – 5th July 2017

posted 10 Aug 2017, 15:50 by Paul Woodward

Review by Woody

So, I’m back at the Robin for another night of local rock talent hosted and headlined by Electus. First up tonight is Michael Pritchard who performs a one man and his guitar show with a backing track to add extra depth. Initially I was a little put off, with the backing track – although I know this style of performance is popular in small pub venues. I can’t say I was blown away by the songs but I was mightily impressed with Pritchard’s powerful, gritty rock vocal. I’d be intrigued to hear him perform with a full band obviously this would allow more fluidity to his performance and obviously he wouldn’t have to worry about the backing track. Pritchard has a good stage presence and sense of humour and was quite self-deprecating, so as a performer he came across really well. His guitar shredding skills are not to be scoffed at either and he had an old school hard rock metal vibe to his style which appealed to my own personal tastes. I hope next time I catch Pritchard live it is with a full band backing him!

Crows and Crosses are a no-nonsense beer drenched rock n roll band from the same blues based hard rock school as Black Stone Cherry. I’ve seen these guys before and was mightily impressed, I’m surprised they haven’t caused more of a stir than they already have as the style they play is insanely popular at the moment. They have the songs to make a dent to and their beer soaked groove driven attitude will be really appreciated and enjoyed by fans of this style of rock. As performers they own the stage, confident and they deliver their songs with old school rock n roll aplomb. A good time band, who are best enjoyed with a beer in hand. Amongst their set we got ‘One More For The Road’ (I wonder what that songs about?) ‘Drive Me Crazy’ and ‘Long Lonely Road’. A solid bunch of musicians who deliver the rock goods live, check them out and be prepared to rock out or at least feel the need to get a wee bit drunk!

Local Alternative rockers Wakedown played their debut live show right here at the Robin last year supporting Electus. At that time, I was positive about their performance but underwhelmed by their music, blaming it on my own personal music tastes. With that in mind I’m sure you can understand I wasn’t overly excited about seeing them again so my expectations were - well I didn’t have any! Their set tonight though blew me away though – I was stunned by just how much the band turned my opinion of their songs and music around tonight. Sonically they were bang on, they sounded slicker and their brand of Alt rock was far more appealing and the songs really hooked me in and I really enjoyed them. It’s amazing how one good performance can dramatically change your opinion on a song. The band as performers are far more confident on stage and they are definitely more comfortable with each as a live unit, so practice and gigs – no matter how small – really do pay off when evolving and growing a band. Vocalist Carl Thomason was noticeably more confident on stage and this showed in his powerful and impressive vocal performance which really drove the songs home and imbedded them in my memory. Definitely a band to keep an eye out for if you like Nineties inspired Alt rock. Their set list included ‘Walking Alone’, ‘Til She Sleeps’ which really hooked me during this performance, ‘One Last Goodbye’, the epic ‘Jericho’ and ‘What Lies Beneath’.

Electus are a solid live band and you always know you’re going to get an enjoyable rambunctious set from them. Tonight, was no different even though the band were debuting new guitarist Gareth Daker and Scott Dallow on bass, so that’s testament to the skills of these guys to get straight into the swing of the Electus machine.

Electus have a very unique unrestrained approach to Hard Rock and their alternative edges add an edge to them that makes them stand out in the musical crowd – and it’s not just frontman Russell Peake’s stage make-up and headdress! This uniqueness always makes them pleasurable to hear live – there’s nothing worse than hearing bands plod over seemingly the same old song so bands who show this bravery to be a little bit different need to be embraced and applauded. Even if that means they don’t have mass appeal!

The band had a stronger more defined hard rock edge tonight I felt, this came strongest from Daker’s and Dallow’s approach and personal style. This for me made the band seem less off kilter, more driven and dare I say it commercial. Daker’s guitar riffs were bigger, bolder and far less jangly and alt rock than previously and Dallow’s beat was punchy and bound, less sporadic than I’d become used to. Personally, this draws me more to the band as it makes them far more accessible, it will be intriguing to see if this influences Peake’s future song writing!

Although Electus are the headline act and have two full albums under their belt they don’t out stay their welcome onstage. They play a similar length set as the other acts tonight and are content to keep the energy high through keeping their set concise and delivering an enjoyable rock show within the confines of a short set. Always enjoyable and I’m already looking forward to their next show!

Hardline @ The Robin, Bilston, Wolverhampton – 23rd May 2017

posted 10 Aug 2017, 15:45 by Paul Woodward

Review by Woody

Rapidly rising local AOR rockers Iconic Eye have been doing their best to make a dribbling fan boy of me in recent times. It is also clear I’m not the only who has taken a renewed interest in the band since the arrival of vocalist Janey Gillard and guitarist Robin Mitchard, as the band have grown their fanbase exponentially in the past six months. There was plenty of Iconic Eye T-shirts in the crowd, with lots of positive and excited talk regarding the band and a nice gathering in front of the stage awaiting their set!

The band have undergone quite a few band changes since the band first came to my attention but the current line-up has really struck a chord with fans and reinvigorated and increased the impact of principal song writer Greg Dean’s songs. Standing in on bass this night was Dale Tonks following the recent sad passing of original bassist Gary Slater (R.I.P).

The current set list selection of songs are all ones come from the band’s debut album and it’s amazing how a few changes in personnel can radically change the impact of a song. Although the album was critically acclaimed upon its release, most AOR fans were a little underwhelmed at the time and left unfussed following luke warm live performances. The songs haven’t been altered or certainly not in a dramatic fashion, so the songs were all loving now are the same – it seems Dean just needed the right musicians to deliver his songs to us.

Iconic Eye have taken on a brasher, slightly harder edged sound which is charged forward by lead guitarist Robin Mitchard. For me though one of the biggest impacts has been Janey Gillard and her vocal delivery, previously I found the vocals quite dispassionate and whilst delivered perfectly they never really touched me. Janey on the other hand delivers these melodies and lyrics with emotion and sincerity and that hits me hard and envelops me in the songs. That emotive connection has always been important to me when it comes to music, to believe the singer feels those words as much as you do – especially on songs which I relate and connect with, and well Janey does this effortlessly.

Iconic Eye got a decent set length to showcase themselves to an ideal melodic rock crowd and there was already a very healthy turn out ready and waiting for them. The band as whole perform with a lot of confidence, Greg Dean far more at ease than I’ve seen in the past obviously loving his time on stage. Guitarist Mitchard is a born performer who exudes rock n roll rambunctiousness in his energetic stage performance. Janey not only has a killer evocative vocal style she also entertains and dances around and interacts with the audience, her stage presence is really natural and you can imagine her dancing around just like this in the comfort of her own home and that actually accentuates the impact of her performance because it doesn’t feel forced or staged.

It was great to hear the crowd tonight embrace and enjoy them, it’s nice to know I’m not the only one who the band have won around in recent times. This was highlighted during ‘I Can Feel It’ which opened with the impactful Keyboard intro and Janey had asked the crowd to sing along beforehand so come the final chorus when Janey asks the crowd to sing the chorus her smile and genuine shock at just how loud the crowd was really pleasing and I’m sure the band really got a thrill from knowing how much these songs and performance were been enjoyed.

Tonight’s highlight for me was a passionately delivered ‘You Knew’ which really struck me amongst this set and the chorus melody and in particular Janey’s emotive vocal delivery of it really stuck with me. The only song which has seen any change is ‘Better Place’ which Janey sing’s in a slightly higher key, which I think actually makes the song a little less dark and more enjoyable.

Like I said previously, these songs have been given a new lease of life and the likes of ‘Now I’ve Found Love’, ‘You Make It’, ‘All She Needed’ and ‘Don’t Stop Me From Leaving’ have all become real crowd pleasers. They finished with a cover of Jefferson Starship classic ‘Jane’, which I’m pretty sure is going to become a set list stalwart or at least I hope so!

Iconic Eye didn’t get the best of the sound tonight, which is unusual for The Robin, but the band still came across really well and are really making a mark on every audience they play to. Judging by tonight’s crowd’s vocal response I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one biting at the bit to see them live again!

I was shocked and delighted when legendary melodic rockers Hardline announced this exclusive headline show at my favourite venue! Although the current line-up only features one original band member in vocalist Johnny Gioeli, it was still a dream come true to have the opportunity to see this band and hear lots of songs from their epic debut album Double Eclipse. Although the line-up is different nowadays there is still class in the band with Josh Ramos on guitars and one of the hardest working men in the melodic rocks scene Alessandro Del Vecchio on keyboards.

Although I know many in the crowd have seen Hardline live before – either back in the day or more recently at Firefest or The Gods Festival, for me this was my first time witnessing this highly regarded cult melodic rock band and I was highly excitable about it! It was also really heart-warming to see such a large turn out on a Tuesday night – near sell out in my estimation!

No one who was at this show will have walked away without a huge smile on their face as Hardline delivered a masterclass in melodic rock to a hungry and boisterous crowd of melodic rock die-hards! As I’ve stated plenty of times in the past the sound set up at the Robin is perfect for melodic rock and AOR acts and Hardline were able to deliver a flawless set which sounded amazing, crystal clear and stunningly impressive.

The set leaned heavily towards the debut album Double Eclipse but they did mix in a few newer tracks which flowed along in the set naturally and maintained an engaging and electric atmosphere! The crowd were vocal and sang along to every song – it made me have flash backs to my JB’s days! A great atmosphere can take a good performance and take it to another level of enjoyment and also leave stronger memories of a show and that is exactly how it felt this night!

Although the groove of the rocking ‘Dr Love’, ‘Takin’ Me Down and ‘Life’s A Bitch’ got heads bobbing and fists pumping it was the one two punches of ‘Everything’ and ‘Hot Cherie’ that really took the roof off the Robin! Betwixt the near perfect performance from the band and the crowds loud and boisterous reactions it made for an extremely memorable highlight in what was an overall stunning show. Both those iconic songs were ones I never ever thought I’d ever see live and ‘Everything’ in particular which has special meaning to me was extremely emotional and it was brilliant to hear done so well and amongst such a great crowd who created an amazing atmosphere for me to be a part of!

Gioeli has simply one of the best voices in melodic rock, powerful and emotive and extremely stirring and damn was he on form tonight! He delivered every song with conviction and the voice he is so famous for came across majestically in this venue and he had the crowd eating out of the palm of his hand. He not only commanded the stage with the performance of a confident rocker straight out the genre’s heyday but he got every last bit of cheer, singing and dancing squeezed out of this crowd with consummate ease! It was amazing to see this amazing vocalist in the flesh and knocking it out of the park with his stunning performance.

I had fully expected ‘Hot Cherie’ to be the set closer, but instead we got ‘Rhythm from A Red Car’ which was just as good and finished the show on a massive rock n roll high! The set flew by far too quickly, which is always a sign of a great night but it’s hard to not want to hear more after such an amazing performance!

The band as a whole were great and highly entertaining – As is the way at The Robin the Keyboards were at the front of stage and Del Vecchio’s keys were well balanced in the mix (as is the way here). Guitarist Josh Ramos delivered those big head bang inducing riffs and it was a genuine pleasure to see Ramos who has been part of so much music I’ve loved over the years most importantly of course his two albums with The Storm, who I absolutely adore and whose second album Eye Of The Storm was instrumental in getting me into AOR when I was a kid.

A tremendous performance from a great band and hopefully this successful show and performance will kickstart further club shows in the future! It was an absolute pleasure to witness this classic band and enjoy those iconic songs that I have been banging out of my stereo for so many years! Oh, and it was at The Robin too, so I may have got a little bit tipsy…as you do….damn I love this venue!

Iconic Eye + Daylight Robbery + RKB @ The Station, Cannock – Saturday 25th February

posted 28 Feb 2017, 12:05 by Paul Woodward   [ updated 5 Mar 2017, 06:13 ]

Review by Woody

I’ve only been to The Station once before and as a new venue it’s still establishing itself on the gig circuit and I thought it was a decent enough small capacity venue on that first visit. I’ll always support local venues that support original bands and music and turn a blind eye to some minor faults if there is any. I explored the venue more tonight and I liked the fact the venue didn’t feel as claustrophobic as many small venues can do. Sound wise I was thoroughly impressed, even though we had three bands on, they were all given a top-quality sound something that is essential for melodic bands! So, they definitely have a good sound system in place at the venue and hats off to whoever was on the sound desk! There is a handful of shows coming up at the venue in the coming months that I am now even more excited about!

RKB took to the stage first and I’ve always had a soft spot for these guys, they play a style of music that really resonates with me. I was hit instantly by the fact they came across with a beefier and slightly heavier sound tonight, I know that is something that they have received praise for and while I agree it gives their songs a more impressive punch live, given my personal tastes I was more than happy with their softer pop rock approach. That said though it’s great to hear and see RKB garner some plaudits and win new fans.

Guitarist Paul Hennefer obviously revelled in the more guitar heavy sound they pushed tonight as it allowed him to showcase his guitar skills and his melodic licks in a more impactful way. Their new drummer Paul Medlock has quickly fitted in with the band and he provides a solid back beat, which pushes the bands heavier tone without been overpowering!

Sadly, the band recently parted ways with Keyboardist Emily Hinds, and their new Keyboardist is Luke Dalton – I think they struggled to find another Paul to round off the band! Considering he has only been with the band for a few weeks he did very well and I’m sure he’ll fit in nicely once he’s assimilated fully with the band – but tonight you could tell he was still finding his feet with these songs.

Vocalist Kim Izzard is always awesome, it might be her super power, she always puts on an entertaining and engaging performance, and that’s not as easy as you may think! Kim always seems to put on solid vocal performances as she is very good at controlling her voice and maintaining the melody without cracking. Her voice suits the pop edge of the band, soft tones filled with melody.

I’m quite familiar now with most of RKB’s songs, and the set was delivered precisely and effectively and they couldn’t fail to impress tonight’s crowd. For me one of the stand outs was the highly infectious ‘If You Want It’ which kept popping into my head throughout the night! We also got ‘Destiny’, crowd pleaser ‘So Far Away’, the blunt sing along’s of ‘Holding On’ and ‘One Way To Live’ and the always pleasurable ‘Goals In Life’. If you like AOR and Melodic Rock, it is imperative you give these guys a listen at your soonest convenience!

I’ve seen Daylight Robbery more times than I’ve had hot dinners and I love what these guys do. When they got together their intention was always to be a constant live presence and it was imperative that their songs came across well in that environment. These guys are flawless as a live act, they have honed their stage act and performances to perfection. It’s extremely rare you will hear a bad show from these guys, they have a wealth of experience as a live unit that always shines through.

The clear sound tonight provided them with a perfect starting point for them to deliver their brand of heavy edged melodic rock. They maintained that solid heavy energy while never losing an ounce of melody in Tony Nicholl’s vocals or Mark Carleton’s melodic guitar riffs. The quality sound also meant David Billingham’s Keyboards never got lost in the mix – one of my pet hates! And something that is sadly very common in small venues.

I’ve reviewed these guys so frequently it’s hard not to sound like I’m repeating myself, but if anything, that just highlights what talented musicians and strong live performers these guys are. Tony owns the stage and his presence is always engaging as he delivers powerful vocals and unforgettable melodies. Guitarist Mark always seems to have an understated stage presence but on this small stage he did seem to come to the fore more so than he normally does. He might not be the most energetic performer but he really gets lost in playing and it’s so rare for him to miss a lick or note during his laid back almost relaxed stage presence. Bassist Colin Murdoch and their current drummer (whose name alludes me and I’m sure DR are trying to beat Spinal Tap’s record!) provide a solid backing and with such a reliable backing it must make the rest of the bands life’s a lot easier when performing live. As I’ve said before Keyboardist David Billingham is a fantastic addition to the band, he’s lively and entertaining which isn’t easy with an immobile instrument but his passion for the music and performing live shines through and adds to the energy of the band.

Set list wise we get all their heavy hitters like ‘Samarah Never Sleeps’, ‘Red Lights’, ‘Hungry Years’, ‘Reunite’ and the prog edged ‘Paradise Is Lost’. What I love about DR though is they know how to build the atmosphere up so when they came to a close their set they have you totally hooked in and singing loudly along. Starting with ‘Shame On You’ which has a killer guitar riff delivered flawlessly by Carleton and an indelible chorus that Tony delivers with aplomb, then they kick straight into the rock anthem ‘Cross Your Heart’ which is undeniably captivating and involving. Then they close with the pure melodic rock beauty of ‘While You Were Sleeping’ which is quite simply one the greatest genre songs ever written – it would have made them superstars in 1988!

Daylight Robbery always deliver the goods, if you’re yet to see them you really need to have a word with yourself and get that rectified. They gig regularly so you have no excuses!

As much as I love RKB and Daylight Robbery, tonight belonged to a rejuvenated and strengthened Iconic Eye who took the show to the next level. They have recently brought in a new vocalist in Jane Gillard and Guitarist Rob Mitchard and what these guys have brought to the band has elevated the band dramatically. Prior to tonight, I just though Iconic Eye were ok a nice enough band with one or two cool songs, but nothing to get excited about. My opinion has totally changed from this one live performance alone! They have definitely got my attention now!

No offence to Greg Dean the bands principal song writer and Commander in Chief of the Iconic Eye and the established hard hitting rhythm section of Gary Slater and Paul Emery. But Rob and Jane have helped boost a very average band into a seriously exciting and intriguing melodic rock act, many of the songs in tonight’s set had far greater impact on me than before and I enjoyed them when I didn’t previously. I have seen Iconic Eye live before and the improvement in the band is remarkable.

Although he doesn’t have much space to manoeuvre Guitarist Mitchard is full of youthful exuberance and his guitar skills are not just impressive but very exciting and engrossing. He manages to recreate these songs effortlessly but he also manages to pump some life into them giving some licks and riffs some real energy and also manages to captivate rather than allude the crowd’s attention as they have done in the past.

How the hell vocalist Jane Gillard has flown under my radar before now is beyond me – in fact I’m really pissed off about it! Based on the couple of re-recorded songs the band have recently released I knew they had enlisted a good singer, but tonight I was absolutely star struck by her in every possible way! Her stage presence is mesmerising, a totally natural and captivating vocalist. Vocally she’s a total powerhouse, with a fantastic range from soft delicate melodies to booming rock power. On a couple of occasions, I noticed a little bit of Ann Wilson in her vocal inflections but I hate comparing female vocalists to Heart as it feels so lazy! Gillard is a different type of vocalist but she does have that same sort of melodic power that you hear from Heart.

Jane exudes such an upbeat feeling from stage that it is really infectious and you can’t help but find yourself smiling! She’s a great performer who dances around the stage with energy and is extremely entertaining to watch, she engages the audience and draws you into the music effortlessly. I think the thing I liked most about her is her humour, it shone through frequently and that added to the feel-good ambience the band had created and it also humanises her and connects her with the audience, there’s no rock star ego or arrogance, which seems to be favoured by many rock stars!

Jane’s version of ‘Don’t Stop Me From Leaving’ was my highlight of their set, I think this one song alone showcased what an amazing band Iconic Eye can be, highly melodic and emotive. They kicked off the show with ‘Now That I’ve Found Love’ which is a great song to draw an audience in and capture the rooms attention. We also got ‘All She Needed’, ‘Better Place’, ‘Let It Rain’ and ‘I Can’t Feel It’. We also got a couple of cover’s with ‘In A Broken Dream’ which is a really hard song to do vocally but Jane managed to deliver it really well and they finished it with Jefferson Starship’s ‘Jane’.

Iconic Eye gave us a thoroughly entertaining set, which excited the audience and created a really positive and lively atmosphere. They have definitely made a new fan in me, I know they had a lot of established fans in the house which obviously helped boost the friendly atmosphere, but those who weren’t familiar will definitely be just as impressed as me! It’ll be interesting to hear how Iconic Eye continue to progress with their new band members, because they have the potential to be a pretty kick ass melodic rock band!
This was a charity event organised by 'Rockers Through The Ages' for Epilepsy Awareness, they raised over £800 on the night for their selected charities.

Tyketto + Romeo’s Daughter @ The Robin, Bilston, Wolverhampton – Monday 30th January 2017

posted 8 Feb 2017, 14:22 by Paul Woodward

Review By Woody

The last time I saw Romeo’s Daughter was right here at The Robin supporting FM and without a shadow of a doubt the best I had ever seen them, with an outstanding all round performance. Tonight, from a performance point of view they were just as slick and vocalist Leigh Matty just as fired up and energetic in her physical performance. Something I’d noticed about her previously was she seemed quite static on stage, but with her voice I couldn’t care less! But when I saw a fired up all guns blazing Leigh when supporting FM I was blown away and was really glad she had regained that physical element of her live performance since the bands reformation. The only downside was unlike the FM gig where Leigh was bubbly and confident in her in between song chat tonight she seemed shy and less sure of herself. I’m not sure if the reaction the band had received on their other dates with the Tyke’s was subdued or confidence knocking I don’t know and fair enough the FM support was to a full on AOR crowd, but there was a core loyal diehard melodic rock fan base amongst tonight’s virtual sell audience! I felt like shouting ‘We Love ya Leigh’ on a couple of occasions, but after that restraining order, I’m doing my best to keep a low profile!

I love this band and I thoroughly enjoyed their overall performance as they delivered us some of their best songs in a succinctly and flawless manner! They were sonically pleasing, with the mix just right and Leigh’s sensual vocals just an absolute pleasure to hear. I’d pay good money for her to sing to me when I’m suffering with insomnia, but you know, that damn restraining order!

Their set was short but well picked as it gave their performance a great energy and kept the momentum up and the crowd on a high. It was pleasing as a fan of the bands heyday albums and new post reformation albums that the set list was spread out amongst the lot, therefore been a delight for a true Romeo’s Daughter stalker… I mean FAN…. sorry!

Kicking off with their most famous song the insanely seductive ‘Heaven In The Backseat’ and then ‘Attracted To The Animal’ with its anthemic style chorus. Then we got some newer songs ‘Touch Too Much’, the amazing ‘Bittersweet’ which is one my favourite RD songs ever, the energetic and pop rock anthem ‘Alive’ and ‘Radio’. This short set seemed to contain some of my favourite RD tunes so when they belted out a near perfect rendition of ‘Inside Out’ I thought I’d died and gone to heaven! They then closed out with one the best AOR ballads ever ‘I Cry Myself To Sleep’ and close the set with the bombastic and dramatic ‘Wild Child’. It really made you crave a full set from them!

The crowd were appreciative and vocal and although they might not have received the adulation the Tyke’s were about to receive I hope they realised they’d made a lot of fans very happy tonight! Here’s to the next time they are in the Midlands (Well the good bit anyway!). Every time I see these guys I just can’t help but smile like a loon!

It’s been a while since I’ve seen Tyketto in a club venue, so I’m like a child who’s just eaten an entire family pack of haribo in full on anticipation for this show! The past couple of Tyke tours have been wrapped around appearances at the HRH AOR Festival, so when they made their debut show at The Robin and performed the greatest Tyke show on UK soil at the Wulfrun Hall (as people keep reminding me!) I was freezing my nick nacks off in some out the way wilderness in North Wales!

Yes, I did get to see the Tyke’s on the big stage so I shouldn’t complain, but I’ve been to almost all of the Black Country Tyke shows since their comeback in 2004 and there is just something special about seeing the band tear it up in venues like JB’s in Dudley (R.I.P) and the Wulfrun Hall in Wolvo. It’s great to see a virtual capacity crowd here tonight on a cold wet miserable Monday night, but I predicted it would be, Tyke fans are loyal!

With that in mind it’s great to see how the Tyke audience has evolved and grown since 2004. They’ve always managed to pull decent crowds – In my neck of the woods anyway – but initially way back it was the usual suspects the hardcore melodic rock to the core fan base who were the primary audience. Now though there’s lots of new faces, old fans finally rediscovering the Tyke’s and obviously new fans from the multitude of rock festivals the band have played in recent years! I was saying to a few friends the Tyke’s are more popular now than they have ever been! For a Melodic Rock band in this day and age to be as popular of these guys and also inspire such fierce loyalty in their fans is a minor miracle!

I’ve seen the band before with new guys Ged Rylands (Keyboard Warrior) and Chris Green (Guitars) and been impressed by them and what they bring to the Tyke live experience but only on the big stage at HRH AOR. Tonight though it was like I was in a wind tunnel those last few hairs I have left on my bonce blown clean off and firmly chocking the unlucky soul behind me. Ged’s key’s really give the songs that added flair were used to on CD and with them been live giving them some genuine authenticity. I’ve been a fan of Chris Green since his days with Pride whom I actually saw live supporting Danny Vaughn solo many moons ago again at JB’s in Dudley (Surprise Surprise!) but he has definitely grown as a guitar player in the meantime. He brings a real kick and energy to the band’s music delivering those familiar riffs in an even more impactful way than I’ve heard before watching his fingers dance frequently on the fretboard is mesmerising as he struts around the stage like he owns it!

It’s great to see Michael Clayton Arbeeny on the drum kit given his recent upheaval in his personal life with his wife’s continuing battle with cancer. Tonight, he attacks his kit like a man on a mission to give the band a dynamic punch determined to give the show his all! It’s also quite emotional later in the evening during the introductions as he introduces Danny a long-standing friend and we get some bromance appreciation going on! It’s cool to see a friendship and dedication to their band still so spirited after so many years!

Danny is a perfect frontman, because he knows how to keep the audience interested and more importantly fired up and chanting for more. It’s hard to be on form night in night out and as a tour gets towards it’s end not let tiredness get the better of you. Danny though seems to know how to pull it out the fire every time and give every audience his finest, I’m sure there are trip ups and things he’s disappointed with but he always handles it so well that we are left unaware! He also has a very personable manner, talks to the audience like were all personal friends and he is also very inspirational and keen to get everyone into the rock n roll spirit which lifts and enhances the atmosphere.

Talking of the atmosphere, been back in the thick of it all means I’m getting the full force of the wonderful and uplifting Tyketto atmosphere. Bigger venues, especially if you’re not in the thick of it struggle to give you that same intensity and I haven’t experienced that from the Tyke’s since their last show at JB’s! A friend who’d been to a couple of shows on this tour brought up the awesome atmosphere, which always boosts a shows impact even when the band might not have been technically as good as other performances – so a flawed performance could be the better one from audience perspective. Although I could have told you this was going to be the best show of the tour before a single note was played, cause well it’s the Black Country one and I always choose the best show to go to!

There’s a really good mix to the set list lots of classic’s, lots of new stuff and it all flows and mixes well together keeping the audience invigorated and ready to roar at every opportunity. Kicking off with ‘Kick’s Like A Mule’ which highlights the heavy stance of their latest record and definitely gets the motors started on anyone flagging tonight! Then it’s straight into the beautiful anthem ‘Wings’ followed perfectly by ‘Rescue Me’ from Strength In Numbers which is an album I have a strong bond to as it was my introduction to the Tyke’s and holds a lot of important memories for me! Then we get a couple of songs which ramp up the drive and swagger of the evening with ‘Faithless’ and ‘I Need It Now’.

Firm fan favourite ‘Burning Down Inside’ is brought to life to by Ged’s keys before the whole venue erupts on that powerful chorus! Now I’d asked a friend who had been to three (Yes three! Tonight, was number four!) Tyke dates on this tour if one of my favourite songs was on the set list, I was reliably informed no it wasn’t so as the opening riff to ‘Meet Me In The Night’ comes flowing out was a really nice surprise and left me smiling from ear to ear! I love the atmosphere this song creates! My friend obviously didn’t want to spoil It for me!

‘Reach’ come across really well live and with it been one of the smoother tracks on the new album is one of my personal favourites, it’s a very emotive song and Danny delivers it so! The rock n roll energy and inspiring ‘Dig In Deep’ keeps the atmosphere hot and sweaty before the one song almost everyone here has some sort of personal attachment to ‘Standing Alone’ which Danny pours so much emotion into even the hardest coldest soul in the room is struggling to keep their shit together.

It’s great to hear ‘Catch My Fall’ again, it’s one of those songs from back in my youth that I listened to frequently and alongside the other ‘SIN’ tracks always take me back to that time. Stuff from the ‘Shine’ album rarely gets aired, but I have heard ‘Jamie’ before live and tonight we get treated to ‘Let It Go’ which features one of Brooke St James greatest and most infectious riffs faithfully recreated by Chris Green tonight! A rare treat!

As the band ramp it up for the finale we get the energetic ‘Big Money’ followed by the sing along and audience participation live favourite ‘Lay Your Body Down’ which is meet vigorously by the vocal audience!

When people talk about Tyketto, it frustrates me a little when ‘Forever Young’ is brought up as if the band are a one hit wonder. The band are much more than that and its hearting to hear this crowd vocal throughout the night, yes shit does go a little bit crazy during the encore, but the crowd are already invested and rocking! I hate been at gigs where people only come to life and start pushing their way to the front for that one specific song – one of my pet hates and something I think is poor gig protocol as it disrespectful to the people around them as the selfishly battle to the front irrespective of knocks and blocked views!

So, yeah, the band don’t linger off stage long and return promptly for ‘Forever Young’ and the place goes that little bit more mental. As they deliver this song with force and Danny’s vocals are full of fire and gusto as they whip up this crowd up into a frenzy with this immortal melodic rock anthem!

I know a lot of people see this song as a ‘were never going to be old’ song and that’s why they like it and couples like it cause it’s lyrically about devoted unbreakable love. Me I like It cause it’s my ‘Fuck You’ song, it’s not my favourite Tyke tune, but it is my ‘Fuck You’ song. It’s such an inspiring song it’s full of fire and grit in how it’s performed especially live when Danny takes it to that next level. But it’s a song I see as affirmation about my musical tastes, it’s a melodic rock anthem and it’s about devotion and loyalty (albeit to another person in the song). But over the years when anyone has mocked me for my taste in music, belittled me, called me strange or odd, this is my affirmation that the music I love kicks serious ass and when I hear it live I feel like it’s screaming ‘Fuck You’ to everyone who disagrees with my awesome taste in music!

I’ve seen the Tyke’s play some kick ass shows, they always seem to pull off an entertaining show regardless. So where does this show rank amongst them? Well just as equally brilliant as them all because the Tyke’s are always freakin’ awesome!!! Missing a Tyke show is like bitch slapping a Puppy, yeah that shit needs to be frowned upon so do the right thing – remember your dancing shoes and singing voice the Tyke’s are very demanding with audience participation.

On a personal note it is was really great to see the band at my favourite venue, I’ve become rather attached to the place for many reasons, many not obvious to the average rocker, over the past seven or so years! So, it was a thrilling experience to hear one of my favourite bands perform some of my favourite songs (smiling like a bastard during ‘Meet Me In The Night’) here! In one of his closing speech’s Danny does acknowledge the venue very positively which is uplifting for me because, if a band likes a venue then they’ll push and want to play their again! Although to be fair I think Danny is here more than me!

Daylight Robbery @ The Robin, Bilston, Wolverhampton - Thursday 24th November 2016

posted 7 Dec 2016, 13:43 by Paul Woodward   [ updated 7 Dec 2016, 14:26 ]

Review by Woody

The Robin is without doubt my favourite venue, whenever a tour or live dates are announced it’s the one venue I’m always hoping for and it’s always met by a mini fist pump by me when bands I like announce they are playing there. So, when Daylight Robbery announced they were going to play a headline show there I was very happy and excited and to boot they made it a value for money show by assembling a four-band bill.

The Nic’s are a relatively new band born out of the ashes of Guts of Glory and they play no nonsense big riff hard rock with deep classic rock style vocals. They were very rough around the edges tonight a little unrehearsed perhaps, they trio have a new drummer in place and their set did feel a little slap dash almost as if they were winging it a bit. They didn’t take themselves too seriously and were obviously performing for the fun of it and that shined through. I can’t say I was blown away by them but I did enjoy their set regardless they just need to tighten things up a bit and keep song writing. They definitely have the potential to be a formidable live act with the right songs.

Some many know Brum ‘celebrity’ Ian Danter for his other work on TV and radio more so than his own music. I have to admit I’m not overly knowledgeable of his work even though he has a soft rock sound that would normally be on my musical radar. I’ve only seen Danter once before supporting SHY at the Steve Harris tribute show a few years back but tonight the line-up seems different and even sees Danter on Drums. I have to admit the band seem rushed and on edge as if they are encountering one problem after another and with Danter on drums I did wonder if they were having line-up issues. To be fair the band as a whole seem pretty together when performing even though there were some nerves apparent.

If you’re into the softer end of rock and like a bit of Toto and west coast AOR then his music should appeal to you. That said there is a strong British flavour to his song writing and some of the songs have very strong and obvious Beatles touches to them. It’s those overtly Beatles inspired tunes where the band lose me a little I much prefer the more melodic rock stuff they performed. It pains me to say cause the guy has an obvious love for a genre I adore but his own music feels very lightweight and unsubstantial so with it not resonating with me it fails to make much of a lasting impression. It was a nice enough set and very pleasant to my soft rock loving ears, but the songs just aren’t strong enough to make me a dribbling fanboy!

Within seconds of Vicious Nature hitting the stage I very quickly needed a change of underwear – things suddenly got very loud and very heavy! Fans of old school Metallica would definitely enjoy Vicious Nature’s thrash metal style. Although the band felt a little restricted on stage with very little room to move due to the amount of equipment on stage they still managed to put on a strong visual performance and came across as very experienced live performers. I think all the people who had specifically come to see them would have been very happy with their performance.

For me personally though they were way too heavy and while I could appreciate the quality of musicianship on display and definitely pick up on why these guys would be popular with Thrash metal fans I just couldn’t get into them. Vocalist Andy Pyke has a very strong and powerful voice and even though comparisons to Metallica and Megadeth are obvious I actually think Pyke has a stronger and more diverse vocal than the respective singers of those bands and I think this something that helps make them stand out in the local music scene. If thunderous heavy metal is your thing these guys are worth checking out!

I’ve been a fan of Daylight Robbery for quite some time now and I’ve always enjoyed seeing them live as they are always consistently strong live performers. This is their first headline show at the Robin and the big advantage to this is they have full use of the entire stage – rather than having to squeeze on! So, they take full advantage of this by having the keyboards on a larger riser with the drums, giving their Keyboardist David Billingham are more prominent visual presence.

It wasn’t a flawless performance but it was always enjoyable and those minor flaws never impacted on a powerful set of hard hitting melodic rock. They kept the set flowing and didn’t mess about with banter in between songs they just got on with it and made the most of their stage time.

Daylight Robbery have a diverse set of songs and they display that tonight with songs with progressive leanings like ‘Paradise Lost’ which has one of the most addictive guitar riffs ever and their more commercial melodic rock edge of songs like ‘Samarah Never Sleeps’. I was really happy about the inclusion ‘I’ll Be Seeing You’ which is a real AOR song and shows another softer, smoother side to the bands song writing. I didn’t think this song would ever make their live set as I thought it may drop the atmosphere or soften their harder edge but the song came out perfectly and was one of my highlights of their set.

Daylight Robbery did a great job of keeping you invested and entertained and really ramped it up for their final trio of songs. Full of energy, undeniable hooks and those sing along choruses you just can’t help but join in with! Starting with ‘Shame on You’ with that killer metal laced riff delivered flawlessly by guitarist Mark Carleton, the rock impact of the dramatic ‘Cross Your Heart’ and they close out with the melodic joy of their commercial rock anthem ‘While You Were Sleeping’. A fantastic set finished off in explosive style.

As usual vocalist Tony Nicholl commands the stage with his powerful vocal backed strongly by his heavy hitting rhythm section of Colin Murdoch and drummer Rob Chivers. David Billingham bucks the trend of ‘boring’ keyboardists by been one of the liveliest keyboard players I’ve seen and not only justifies his prominent visual stage placement but also proves keyboarders can put on entertaining performances and still deliver those lush licks and atmospherics. Guitarist Carleton always has a very serious stage demeanour and although he may not bounce around like a loon watching his fingers dance on some of those infectious guitar riffs is way more entertaining!

I had a great night and I really hope Daylight Robbery make headline shows at the Robin a regular thing especially with multi band line-ups which not only make it value for money but it also gives other bands the opportunity to play the venue! The night may have got a bit blurry towards the end (have I mentioned I looooooveeee The Robin) and I may have *cough* over indulged on liquid refreshment but that joyous feeling and smile was definitely music induced (unless that dream where Bryce Dallas Howard threw me in her sex dungeon wasn’t a dream)! Oh and by the way if you saw me dribbling in a bush it wasn’t me it was my evil twin and whatever you do don’t ever speak to him he’s a proper arsehole!

Electus + Daxx & Roxane + Wakedown + Tyrannosaurus Nebulous @ The Robin, Bilston, Wolverhampton – Wednesday 9th November 2016

posted 17 Nov 2016, 13:42 by Paul Woodward

Review By Woody

For Electus’s second headline show at The Robin this year the band have assembled another intriguing collection of bands to support them! Making this a real value for money gig!

First up is local hard rockers Tyrannosaurus Nebulous who kick things off nicely with a snappy rocking set! Their music has a strong NWOBHM and old school eighties metal vibe to it, which really hooked me in to it with its melodic tinge, but they aren’t a retro sounding band they just wear their influences openly in their sound. They have a strong modern rock feel to them, some alt rock mixed into their sound updates those influences giving the band a current sound which is quite popular at the moment. That Americanised modern rock feel is accentuated by Matt Darby’s deep vocals and singing style which is similar to Chad Kroeger (Nickelback) or Scott Stapp (Creed). In fact I did keep getting a Creed vibe from some of their songs and it did feel like Judas Priest had sat down with Creed and said hey! let’s be buddies and how can we mix our styles and still sound awesome!

I enjoyed these guy’s way more than I expected too based on my research prior to the gig, and they definitely got the night off to a good start. My only complaint is that they seemed lost on The Robin stage, staying reasonably static so they weren’t overly entertaining visually. I think these guys are used to playing much smaller venues because I did feel as though their movements and posture on stage was as if they were consciously trying not to elbow or knock their band mates constantly! It’s a very minor thing and didn’t hinder my enjoyment of their songs, stagecraft can only be honed through experience and performances on stages that allow more movement.

You can check them out here

This was the first ever live show for Wakedown so you have to tip your hat to Electus for not only giving the band a chance with their first gig but also one on a decent sized stage! It’s good to see bands supporting each other in what in my experience is a very competitive industry.

It was also really good to see the band had gathered a decent crowd of fans who all came down the front to support them. There were obvious nerves on show and a few hiccups in their performance, but nothing major and to be expected from a debut show I think the band on the whole can be proud of their performance and things will improve from here on out. They made a few rookie mistakes in their stage performance, but a lot of this was nerves I think and their stagecraft will improve with experience and confidence collected from further live shows.

The band show a lot of promise and I’m sure they could become quite popular in the local Alt-rock scene. Personally, though I wasn’t enamoured with their songs – this isn’t a criticism of the music, it’s more about personal taste. I tend to like very polished and smooth music, Wakedown are full on Alt rock act a little bit grungy and very rough around the edges so the band don’t appeal overtly to me musically. It’ll be very interesting to see how this new band develop and I’ll be keeping an ear out to see if they change my mind in future!

You can investigate Wakedown further at

Daxx & Roxane were easily my band of the evening after they delivered a tight full on rock and roll performance! Full of explosive energy and a hard rock sound that was incredibly infectious! Mixing elements of AC/DC style guitar riffs into their driven up-tempo rock the band play, though they also have a strong European touch that makes me think of bands like Shakra, Gotthard and Krokus.

Although these guys are very new to me their stage performance sees them rocking out like seasoned pro’s utilising the stage space and delivering electrifying and energetic performances which enhances the power and drive of the band’s music throughout. Fans of straight ahead no nonsense rock and roll should LOVE these guys. They aren’t reinventing the wheel, but it’s just so hard to not just get swept up in their music and find yourself smiling from ear to ear! A great fun band who I’ll be keeping a firm eye on in future!

They were a superb entertaining band visually but they also had theysongs to match that and they won me over with absolute ease. There driven rock riffs and gritty rock vocals get under your skin and their songs have an infectious energy which is born for the live stage! If after seeing these guys live you don’t feel pumped up and energised, you don’t like rock n roll….fact….

Check them out here

Electus frontman Russell Peake once again hits the stage in full stage attire and face paint and definitely meaning business as the band intend to keep the atmosphere generated by their predecessors going! Just like their headline show in the summer the band kept it tight and no nonsense, just a wall to wall rock show!

The show in the summer wasn’t anywhere near as well attended mainly due to it clashing with an important European cup match, tonight was a much-improved turn out and the band seemed energised by this and obviously, a lot happier to be performing to more people. The band performed with a lot more confidence and vigour because of this I feel. Although I enjoyed their performance earlier this year I felt tonight they knocked it up a notch and were not only more entertaining visually their music came across a little more dynamic and driven.

Electus have a unique flavour to my ears as they mix alt rock sounds with no nonsense rock n roll. A little dark and off kilter at times and Russ Peake’s stage attire accentuates that off the wall touch the band have. To me they have a sound which should appeal to a wide range of rockers and they have a solid hard rock back bone which ensures for a hard-hitting impact live.

The band don’t out stay their welcome onstage they just get the job done and leave you feeling entertained! Although they are the headliners I’m glad they have dispensed with the ‘encore’ tradition, something I’d like more bands to do. If a band does that well a crowd demands one more than an impromptu encore is really cool – but it’s become the expected thing at every show and the whole point of an encore has been totally missed.

Electus have already booked another headline show at The Robin next summer and I’m hoping the line-up they gather for that is half as good as their previous line-ups have been! If you enjoy live music regardless of genre these shows are well worth popping out for! Especially as they support original bands!

You can check out Electus at

Kee Marcello @ The Robin, Bilston, Wolverhampton – Thursday 22nd September 2016

posted 10 Oct 2016, 07:38 by Paul Woodward   [ updated 10 Oct 2016, 07:39 ]

Review by Woody

One of the successes of this year’s HRH AOR was Kane’d who got one of the best reactions of the weekend and won a whole host of new fans. They may have been an unknown to most of the audience at the time but Kane’d have been knocking about a while and as a fan of these guys it’s really pleasing they are getting such positive reactions and are hopefully on the rise to bigger and better things. They are hard at work on their third album which I’ll be anxiously awaiting to hear next year.

They are hardened live act and are no stranger to small pub venues but have the confidence to perform and entertain on larger stages – just like they did at HRH AOR! Obviously a venue like the Robin gives the band more room to move and helps give the band a better stage and sound to showcase their songs on than many of the smaller venues they have played in the past.

Fronted by three sisters all on lead vocals not only gives the band an awesome vocal harmony arsenal but also makes them a little different to most bands you see and gives them an entertaining edge that many bands lack. Steph, Stacey and Chez all interact with the crowd equally and have a really engrossing stage presence and more importantly these three very attractive ladies have stunning voices.

They have a very melodic sound, but they have more of a metal edge than rock and that shines through in the guitar riffs and heavy backing provided by the rest of the band. They came across really well at The Robin, the sound was heavy but those lush melodies still shone through perfectly most noticeably on the ball tickling awesome chorus on ‘Beautiful But Tragic’. They are a great live act and not only recreate their songs faultlessly they are insanely fun and do a great job of getting the audience involved and up for it!

Their set flew by and it felt really short I really hope next year the band can get a few headline shows going in my neck of the woods! We also got the fun time party song ‘Wasted’, ‘Rise’, ‘She’s Got You Now’ and ‘La Di Da’. If these Welsh rockers are coming through your town do yourself a favour get yourself dolled up and down the front with a beer in hand and ENJOY!

Kee Marcello is a name I know well due to his time with primetime Europe and his tenure with cult rockers Easy Action, but I don’t know much about his solo albums and I’ve never seen him live before – Obviously with him playing The Robin it was the best time to pop my Kee cherry! Obviously as a guitarist his post Europe work tends to be more guitar heavy and harder hitting than the slick and smooth rock of heyday Europe. The set tonight reflects that and although there is a healthy dose of Europe classics in the mix it is a heavy rock performance from the melodic rock legend.

Joining Kee on guitar is Kane’d guitarist Harry Scott Elliott who if you didn’t know better you would think was a full time member of Kee’s solo band, he fits in so naturally. I got to appreciate Elliott’s immense guitar skills a lot clearer during this set than I did with Kane’d, I don’t know why but I think I get more distracted by other members of that band *Cough* to fully appreciate his abilities.

Kee has a new album out soon and he plays a couple of tracks from it peppered throughout his set like opener ‘Black Hole Sun’, ‘Soldier Down’ and the title track ‘Scaling Up’. He did stick to the rockier tracks but I would have loved to have heard the old school melodic rock flavoured ‘Don’t Miss You Much’ and ‘Fix Me’ but admittedly they have my have been too soft to fit into the energy of this set.

Kee is a solid performer who’s stage presence just screams ‘I’ve been there and done that’ and he has that level of confidence on stage that only comes from years in the biz. He’s not an overly active performer and his vocals may be a little rough around the edges, but that only adds to the heavier aspect of his solo songs.

Obviously the Europe classics sound a little darker and heavier but the crowd tonight don’t seem to care and they turn into sing-along’s with the crowd helping Kee out on those famous choruses to the likes of ‘Superstitious’, ‘Rock The Night’ and ‘More Than Meets The Eye’ and the inevitable encore ‘The Final Countdown’. Kee didn’t neglect his older solo albums and I have to admit not all of these songs really appealed to me and it did make the first half of his set a little less exciting for me. The others in the crowd seemed to enjoy them far more though so are obviously veteran supporters of the man as they appreciated ‘Highway’, ‘EMD’, ‘Starlight Sky’ and ‘Dog Eat Dog’.

One of the highlights of the evening was the airing of Kee’s Easy Action tune ‘We Go Rockin’ which goes down a treat and I really enjoyed it. Kee does have a quick jab at Poison who nicked the song and slightly adjusted it to make their big hit ‘I Want Action’.

If you’re a melodic rock fan seeing Kee at least once should be on your list of gigs to see, he’s a solid performer with a back catalogue of songs to wet your pants over and what better way to hear those Europe classics in more intimate venues than a Kee solo show!

Big Country @ the Robin, Bilston, Wolverhampton – Friday 16th September 2016

posted 6 Oct 2016, 09:23 by Paul Woodward

Review by Woody

I hadn’t initially intended to go to this gig but once I saw Brummie AOR hot shots Corvus had been announced as support I snapped up a ticket. This is only the second time I’ve seen the band live, the first been their first ever live show as Corvus, well over a year ago and the band have been playing live as frequently as possible ever since. That first show was enjoyable but it was clear that it was their first show and the experience they have gained over the past year is very clear tonight and they come across far more confidently on stage. The keyboards were a little loud in the mix to start off with but this minor sound gripe was quickly cleared up and the band’s highly melodic smooth AOR came across really well for their entire set.

This set of fans may not have been their ideal target audience but the chance to play in front of a large crowd when you’re growing your fan base is not to be sniffed at when these opportunities come your way. They did get increasingly loud and positive responses as their set went on so they definitely won a few new fans before the end of their set!

As a live unit they put a lot of thought into been mobile and entertaining on stage and they are quite possibly one of the smile-ist bands I’ve ever seen (except guitarist John Clews, who is always in deep concentration mode!) that upbeat attitude really helps sell their very uplifting and feel good music to their audience. Ciaran James is a confident and commanding vocalist and he keeps the audience invested and his vocals throughout were strong. Guitarist John Clews took every opportunity to slip in solos and really working his fretboard hard and although he was always throwing in some complicated guitar licks and was totally focused on his playing he still moved about as much as he could and seemed to relish the chance to let rip all his guitar wizardry.

They have so many good songs it’s impossible for them to NOT pick a perfect paced and continually exciting set list. There’s not many bands with only one album under their belts who can do that, running through one awesome melodic rocker to the next. Opening with ‘Can’t Get Enough’ they then treat us to flawless performances of ‘All I Need’, ‘How Long’, ‘Believe’, ballad ‘Where Do We Run’ which got one of the loudest reactions from the Big Country crowd and ‘Turn To Stone’ which was probably my favourite song of the evening. They closed out their set with the rousing one two punch of ‘When You Love Someone’ and their anthem ‘Chasing Miracles’.

If you’re a melodic rock fan you should get out and see Corvus as not only do they not disappoint as a live act they also play a style of music so rare on the live circuit nowadays. They have a load of shows coming up so put them in your diaries and remember to take your dancing shoes and singing voices!

As previously stated I was here for Corvus, I do know and like all the Big Country ‘hits’ but I’m only a casual fan so have never pushed myself to see them before. I wasn’t sure what to expect although with them playing their 1986 album The Seer in full I knew there was going to be a lot of songs I was unfamiliar with tonight so I thought that may dampen my enjoyment of their set. Thankfully it didn’t and now I really need to get my hands on that classic album!

The only song I knew was ‘Look Away’ which I thoroughly enjoyed the energy of but of all the The Seer tracks ‘Hold The Heart’ is probably the one that struck me most. The full house crowd were lapping up all the songs, with loud reactions and lots of excited chatting as all these rarely played songs got dusted off and delivered to a clearly devoted set of fans.

Guitarist Bruce Watson did most of the talking and interacting with the fans, clearly loving the highly vocal and excitable Black Country crowd stating frequently through the night how much he fuckin’ loved it here! I wasn’t surprised when less than a week later The Robin website shows the band have already booked a return show for next September.

They have a really strong melodic feel even live where things tend to get a little heavier and I really enjoyed all those melodic guitar riffs and licks. The songs came across far more energetic than I expected and I had wrongly presumed Big Country were more of a laid back band, especially with the strong Celtic sound interwoven into their songs. Although this is a new version of the band, with only two key original members left it was still a great show and the fans didn’t seem to care. Obviously with the death of their iconic frontman Stuart Adamson for the band to continue they would obviously have to change their line-up. Their new vocalist Simon Hough does a superb job and does his best to deliver these songs as they were originally written and does well to try and fill in for Adamson’s distinctive vocal.

The band as a whole are veteran performers and they gave on a full on rock n roll show full of infectious energy. Far from what I was expecting and it also intensified my enjoyment of their set and gave me a new found respect for the band as whole. Another thing I didn’t expect was how rambunctious and energetic the Big Country fans were, I had expected middle aged music buffs who would tap their shows and smile wistfully when a fine musical moment occurred. I was wrong oh very wrong – I was only right about the age range of most the crowd – Come the end of the Big Country set when they played the big hit’s starting with ‘In A Big Country’ the place erupted and I felt like I’d been swept into a heavy metal mosh pit and near shat me pants! As the half-naked screaming tattooed rockers head banged like it was Motorhead and pogoed so vigorously to make all punks look like big girl’s blouses. This level of energy never subsided again until the band’s set finished going through their best known songs ‘Fields Of Fire’ and the iconic ‘Wonderland’ a song upon hearing I was glad I’d came and ticked this band and that song of my live show bucket list! I’m pretty sure there was going to be some very sore legs and backs in the morning!

A fantastic show which the loyal Big Country fans clearly and audibly enjoyed and if you haven’t seen them before even if like me you’re only a casual fan you should go and check them out!

Mitch Malloy @ The Robin, Bilston, Wolverhampton - Sunday 11th September 2016

posted 3 Oct 2016, 07:17 by Paul Woodward   [ updated 3 Oct 2016, 07:18 ]

Review by Woody

Aussies Kaato have worked with Malloy on their recent album which he produced and co-wrote on, the band also features as Malloy’s backing band on this European tour. The band provided a cool wake up set with a set of sleaze rock inspired by the likes of Hanoi Rocks, with strong melodic hooks especially on the choruses. I can’t say I was blown away by them as their brand of sleaze just doesn’t work for me, but they were entertaining enough and would go down well with the average Malloy fan quite well. Frontman Kurt Lowney has a touch of Mick Jagger to his stage presence and mannerisms and is an intriguing frontman, but I felt his vocals were a little too sharp (might have been a sound issue) and I found this a little bit distracting and it did dampen my enjoyment of their set. The rest of the guys were in contrast very static on stage allowing Lowney to been our main visual and Lowney does have the potential to be a very charismatic vocalist, I think he may have toned down his stage act to accommodate for a small and unknown audience. If you like eighties Scandi Sleaze and even some LA Strip sleaze ala LA Guns these guys should be right up your alley and definitely worth checking out.

Tonight’s main and local support is Black Country rockers Soley Mourning who I have become a big fan of in recent times. These guys have a unique sound which incorporates many influences and styles which can make them a bit of an acquired taste to some and I wasn’t sure how they’d go down tonight as they aren’t as commercial as many in AOR circles like. As a live act they are definitely one of the best, always full of energy and drive and they deliver their songs with panache and tonight is no different as the lads kick it up a notch and deliver a full on rock show. The set is tight and well picked and veers towards their high energy songs which maintains a great energy and keeps the audience interested and involved. I thoroughly enjoyed their set and buzzed off the energy they created.

These guys are natural performers, but the musicianship never falters because of them bouncing around the stage. Guitarist’s Andy Guest and Tone Chambers trade lead guitar duties as they rock to every riff never missing a lick and delivering some wonderfully delicious melodic guitar riffs and licks. They have a temporary drummer on the kit tonight who does the guys justice giving the guys a really solid and energetic backing projecting their music even better to the crowd. Vocalist Mat Partridge is a very entreating performer with a very energetic stage presence which draws you into the music and he has a great bluesy vocal which adds a really cool edge to their groove based rock. He puts me in mind of Glenn Hughes a lot vocally and I think these guys would go down immensely well playing with Hughes or even better the recently reformed Black Country Communion.

These guys have to be one of the most talented collection of musicians I’ve had the pleasure of seeing perform and it’s a shame they haven’t broken through yet – I think if the guys moved into a more defined blues based hard rock sound it would help them become a lot more accessible to causal music fans. I can’t recommend seeing these guys live enough, you’re guaranteed an explosive and entertaining performance. They have just celebrated a ten-year anniversary and the band show no signs of letting up now and long may they continue!

I’m a massive fan of Mitch Malloy, but this is the first time I’ve seen him live. Malloy hasn’t toured the UK in some time but has been a regular favourite at Firefest over the past decade, so it was hard to gage the sort of turn out he would get tonight. The turnout was a lot better than I thought it may have been and it was very clear all in attendance were big supporters of Malloy some people were visibly very excited and very animated during the course of the show.

He kicked off his show with a rambunctious run through of ‘Rock N Roll’ from his brand new album Making Noise afterwards he asked the audience to move closer as the crowd was spread out throughout the venue which they dutifully did. Malloy performed like a veteran and it was clear to me early on his set why he and his performances at Firefest are so well loved and received by melodic rock fans. His backing band were very much in the background and left the visual entertainment to Mitch which wasn’t a bad thing as that was exactly who we were here to see. There was no messing about or meandering spiel to fill his set out, he came to rock and he did just that and with him playing songs predominately from his beloved debut album the die-hard fans were more than a little bit happy.

His set was shorter than I’d expected – playing what I would call a festival set no one seemed to mind though as we got an hour of joyous and professionally executed melodic rock with Malloy’s voice sounding as strong as ever. If I’m honest it was all the old songs that had me grinning like a Cheshire cat and thoroughly enjoying every moment but the new song ‘My Therapy’ and his lost Van Halen track ‘It’s The Right Time’ fitted perfectly into the set.

The crowd lapped every song up and various people getting overly excited as their favourite is dusted off and rocked out – whether it was ‘Mission Of Love’, ‘Over The Water’, ‘Nobody Wins In This War’, ‘Cowboy and The Ballerina’ or the intensely emotively delivered ‘Our Love Will Never Die’.

I never thought I’d see Mitch live and this tour seemed to come out of the blue so I have to admit there was a little tear of joy in my eye during his set closer and iconic melodic rock song ‘Anything At All’ which is melodic rock awesomeness and Malloy gave it to us with a bang! Malloy announced that this tour was just the beginning and more shows and festivals would be high on the Malloy agenda for the future! Here’s hoping his small but loyal fan base are treated to an equal extensive UK tour next time around!

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