live reviews

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!

Electus + The House Of Ghosts + Crows and Crosses + The Loved and Lost @ The Robin, Bilston, Wolverhampton – Wednesday 6th July 2016

posted 12 Jul 2016, 15:16 by Paul Woodward

Review By Woody

When Electus announced this headline show at The Robin a few months ago I quickly added it to my gig diary and thought I’d take advantage of this opportunity to check out these local rockers at my favourite venue while I had the chance. Add to that a very intriguing selection of support bands, all of whom I was keen to see after some minor research piqued my interest in their very different brands of rock, it always promised to be an entertaining evening. Sadly, clashing with the Wales European Championship semi-final match was always going to effect the turn out for tonight’s band showcase, even I came close to staying home to witness it but thankfully a few peeps’ still made the trip out to support some live original rock at The Robin!

First up was Worcester based female fronted metal band The Loved and Lost who were playing Wolverhampton for the first (and hopefully no last) time. They stormed the stage determined to take no prisoners with their energetic performance and rip snorting metal riffage and thunderous break neck rhythms. I was blown away by their confident and hugely entertaining stage presence, normally female fronted bands let their vocalist take the limelight and fade into the background – not these guys they were bouncing around and rocking to every beat and riff. Technically these guys are a little heavier and sharper than the style of music I normally listen too but I still really enjoyed their songs and was truly impressed with their song writing. They have some slight symphonic touches to their sound but they are more of a straight ahead metal band.

Frontwoman Jordan Quinn has a humongous voice and for such a petite woman having the epic sounding voice that she does left my jaw agape on a few occasions! She has an amazing vocal and that should help propel the band to larger crowds in the not too distant future. I hadn’t expected such a full on performance from tonight’s openers, but they really made the most of their time on stage and seemed to enjoy it immensely which made them even more pleasurable to watch! They were also great at getting the audience involved and they find it very easy to generate an awesome atmosphere.

Songs amongst their set included ‘Insomnia’, ‘Undone’, ‘Drag Me Down’, ‘Let Me Go’ and ‘Mister Ignorance’

A young band to keep an eye on, the have an exciting sound and crowd winning stage presence that will see them rapidly increasing their fan base with every passing live show! If they are in your neck of the woods do yourself a favour and go and check them out, trust me you won’t be disappointed!

Kidderminster’s Crows & Crosses were next up and if I had been them I would have been exceedingly nervous following the explosive performance from The Loved and Lost, luckily for us the band showed no signs of nerves and put on an equally impressive and powerful performance. The Crows have a blues based modern rock sound akin to Black Stone Cherry – so it was no surprise they slipped a BSC cover into the mix!

I have to say they sounded fantastic and I found that their guitar groove and vocalist Nick Pagett’s gritty voice really got me rockin’ and made a real lasting impression on me. Fans of this style of whiskey soaked biker rock will think the sun shines out the Crow’s asses and their flawless and powerful live performance would definitely have rockers nodding in agreement with me.

They picked a great set-list which never lost my interest and showcased the band in the best way possible and with such a booming sound should easily impress fans on bigger stages. They played ‘The Devil In Me’ and ‘One Lonely Road’ amongst their short but impressive set.

If there was one perfect word to describe The House Of Ghosts, it is Ethereal because they are just that in every possible way from the vocal style to the keyboards to the guitars and rhythms. Their brand of melodic rock is extremely atmospheric, with touches of Prog but the band are far too commercial to really justify that label – it’s the atmospherics that swing me into the Prog playground.

Given my own personal musical tastes it was nice to have something a little softer on the menu to wrap my lugholes around and I have to say I really enjoyed their quite unique sound. Vocalist Gina Stone has a voice that puts me in mind of Kate Bush she also has mannerism’s that also make me think of Bush and as the set progresses I can’t help but think The House Of Ghosts sound is like a rocked up version of Kate Bush! Not a bad thing in my books!

I can see these guys appealing to a very eclectic audience given the mixture of sounds and flavours in their song writing. I of course gravitated to their more commercial songs like the very memorable and radio friendly ‘Magnetic’ but I think the drive and infectious nature of ‘Crushing Butterflies’ made that specific song a personal highlight amongst a very strong and entertaining set.

Electus frontman Russell Peake takes to the stage unexpectedly wearing face paint and a headdress something that not only lends an extra layer of visual performance but to a degree accentuates the slight alternative vibe to the band’s music. Peake and the rest of Electus determined not to be outdone by their impressive support bands storm through a non-stop rock n roll show which sees the band run through an impressive catalogue of no frills rock! While the band as a whole might not be as bouncy the energy in their music is enough to keep an evening of enjoyable rock n roll going! It was a good night to be in the crowd as all the bands were on fire and having great sets and Electus were definitely firing on all cylinders and making the most of their time on the Robin stage.

While Electus play no nonsense rock and roll, they do have a quirky angle and an alternative vibe to their music which helps them stand out amongst other similar sounding bands, accentuated even more so tonight by Peake’s onstage attire. Peake’s vocal style also pushes things in a more contemporary way which gives the band a definite sound all of their own which if you listen to a lot of music like I do is very refreshing and makes you more appreciative of them as a live act. There is nothing worse than listening to bands who are so engrossed in a sound or genre you feel like you’re listening to the same song done by a hundred bands – the blues rock genre is littered with them at the moment!

‘Fake Love’ has a really quirky and unusual chorus but the hook is there and it really gets stuck in your head and as Russ expects the commercial ‘Just One Night’ gets a good reaction from the audience and deservedly so as it is a real highlight of their set. We also get ‘Sunflower’, ‘Aphrodite’, ‘Rider’ and a brand new song ‘Ticket to Nowhere’ which I really liked the sound of and it was quite different so I’m intrigued to hear where the Electus song writing is going on their next album.

I’m loathe to say my highlight of their set is a cover – especially given the awesome original songs that Electus had already played – but this was ‘Wild and Wonderful’ god damn it!!! Peake had played with Ricky Warwick on a few acoustic dates previously so playing an iconic Almighty song was of course a good idea. They did a great job with a song I’ve been addicted to for more years than I care to admit, Peake’s vocals also gave the song an Electus spin and put their own alternative stamp on it but they never lost the joyous rock n roll roar that is the essence of this sing along classic!

This was my first time seeing Electus live and I’m very sure it won’t be my last following their highly entertaining rock n roll show.

It was a real pleasure to see all the bands putting everything into their set’s and they all had top nights which was great for winning new fans especially for someone like myself who had never seen any of these bands live before! It was great night out full energetic performances, memorable songs and an all-round fun night of rock!

HRH AOR 4 @ Hafan Y Mor, North Wales – Saturday 12th March 2016

posted 21 Mar 2016, 16:10 by Paul Woodward

Review by Woody

Having abstained from drinking the previous day I’m more on the ball today to get down for the full line-up – first though I spent the morning setting myself on fire and pouring freshly boiled kettles of water over my head in a vain attempt to feel mildly warm, I failed miserably, I tell you now these kids today with their summer time festivals don’t know their born. You know your hardcore when you cocoon yourself in a thick blanket with a hot water bottle pile three quilts on top of yourself and still wake up shivering – This is definitely a festival to separate the men from the boys! #TooColdToPoop

Today’s openers The Radio Sun have travelled half way across the world to play for us and it’s great to see a healthy turn-out for these Australian’s! They have recently released their second album Heaven or Heartbreak which in a great unintentional comedic moment frontman Jason Old totally forgets the name of! They have quickly built a strong following within melodic rock circles in recent years and the positive and enthusiastic response the band get throughout their set is testament to that.

The Radio Sun don’t play straight ahead melodic rock, whilst that does lie at the core of their sound they have a more modern contemporary vibe and do push things into what I’d call Americanised pop rock territory which gives them a fresh take on melodic rock and obviously at a festival like this adds to the diversity of what we can enjoy! I think the band definitely put smiles on their established fans faces who are given this rare opportunity to see the Aussie’s on a stage in the UK but also I think their upbeat feel good set really endeared them to newbies and I’m sure they came away with lots of new friends and fans.

Jason Old is a jovial frontman, down to earth and has a great sense of Aussie humour. The band as a whole are a well-oiled machine they obviously practice and play live a fair bit back in Oz. Lead guitarist Steve Janevski really impresses as he delivers infectious guitar licks and intriguing solo’s. An exciting and entertaining band who definitely got things kicked off with a bang!

Highlights of their solid set for me would be ‘One in A Million’, ‘Dying Without Your Love’ and ‘Hanging By A Thread’. A cracking band with an addictive sound I hope they come back to our shores again soon!

I have a vague knowledge of The Burning Crows and I can’t say I’m a huge fan of theirs, but I thought I’d stick around and give them a chance. They have a strong blues based hard rock sound that is really popular at the moment think Black Stone Cherry and their ilk and if I’m honest the crowd seemed to enjoy them. A solid performance of strong guitar riffage and gritty vocals and I can see why hard rockers would take to them. Personally I wasn’t overly struck by them and I felt their songs were a bit too similar, they play in a very oversaturated genre and a lot of it blurs into one for me – it takes a lot to stand out and be original within it. Fair play to the band though as in the main they seem to have the crowd entertained!

I’ve been a fan of Newman since the dawn of time and with the amount of albums he has under his belt the only way he’s going to play all my favourites is going to be a five-hour set with no breaks and even then I’d probably still demand one more! Newman as he always does balance’s his set to span and include most his career to keep hardcore fans happy, what you’re essentially getting is a greatest hit set!

I’ve been fortunate to catch Newman live a few times over the last few years and he and his band seem to only get stronger and stronger. I definitely see them as been far more confident and comfortable on stage now and with Pete Newdeck on drums they definitely have a stronger live sound. Newman fans should have definitely been appeased by a set that flashed by in a heartbeat and left us hungry for more, the humour shared by all members of the band adds a real warmth and entertainment to their show and it really helps the crowd connect with them.

Their opening track ‘The Elegance Machine’ is the only song from their latest album but it kicks things off with a good energy which doesn’t abate throughout their set. The following triple play of ‘Every Moment’, ‘Feel Her Again’ and ‘Stay With Me’ are probably my highlight’s but the crowd as a whole got nosier as the sent went on. The humorous Van Halen ‘Panama’ intro into ‘Primitive Soul’ went down really well before oldie but extremely goodie ‘If It’s Love’ keeps the Newman fanboys from rioting and they close their set with what has become the band’s anthem and fan favourite ‘One Step Closer’.

Newman and Co delivered once again, they are without doubt one of the best and most unique British melodic rock bands of current times! Miss them at your peril, cause they are awesome!

Another band I’ve been following for some time is Talon and it’s great to see the American’s make the long ass journey over to play for us! I have to give these guys a real shout out for coming and bringing their A game, Michael O’Mara openly admitted to been very tired and jet lagged and I’m sure the rest of the band were too but they still put on a great bombastic melodic hard rock show. Us established fans appreciate the opportunity to see them live and they gave us their best and we rocked out!

O’Mara’s vocals I thought were powerful and he put on a great frontman performance tiredness aside! Guitarist’s Kory Voxen’s crunching and insistent guitar riffs from the likes of ‘Wrecking Ball’ and ‘Paradise’ really got us going and were note perfect. Drummer John parker is a powerhouse drummer and he put in a storming performance on the kit giving every song a real kick and bombastic bite!

Another set that went by in the blink of an eye and left us hoping for more! A good cut of songs from across their four albums including ‘Spun’, ‘Sin City Sister’, the rambunctious ‘Holly Would’, sing along ‘Set Me Free’ (if you can remember the words!), ‘Raise em High’ and ‘Eva’.

Talon have huge sound, a real old school melodic hard rock vibe that definitely ticked all the right boxes with us die hard melodic rockers and the die hard’s made their voices heard. I’m really glad the Talon guys made the journey because they put on a hell of a show!

Marvel were always going to be a wildcard, and the question asked by many leading up to this festival was Marvel who? I’d done a bit of research, which in retrospect I wish I hadn’t and I was definitely not looking forward to their set at all. Essentially a bluesy hard rock band, but extremely quirky and working the gimmick element to the max with stage costumes and names like the ‘Aviator’ and all wearing matching ‘Batman’ mask’s which was a bad move because I AM BATMAN!!!! Shhhhhhh….

Luckily for me a happy band of Swede’s and Marvel fanatic’s set up shop next to me and scream and holler their voices raw for them – but much like the sound man I’m fighting a bad case of narcolepsy and most possibly the comedy gold moment of the entire weekend is Marvel’s lead singer pointing out and waking up the sleeping sound man – freaking hilarious!

Not my sort of thing at all, but they do put on a show for those that do enjoy them!

I know a few have seen the Dan Reed Network since their recent reformation but this is my first time. I’ve seen Dan do his solo thing a few times and he is a fantastic, personable and emotion driven singer and puts on wonderfully intimate shows. So I was not prepared in the slightest for Dan Reed the rock n roll machine, floor, jaw, straight through! Reed the rocker can really give the mighty Danny Vaughn a run for his money as an energetic and entertaining frontman. Tonight shows a totally different side to Reed as a performer, less introverted and all about getting every one up and grooving! I really wasn’t expecting it and loved every moment of him bouncing round the stage and dropping out some of those awesome vocal melodies.

If they had managed to slip ‘Ritual’ and ‘Tiger In A Dress’ into what was already a killer storming rock n roll spectacle they may have caused of riot! Without doubt one of the outstanding performances of the weekend. The crowd were noisy as hell and sang back virtually every word to them judging on crowd reactions the Tyke’s and the Network were definitely the heroes of the weekend! Lots of smiles all round throughout the venue and following their set!

In the middle of their greatest hits set we get a new one ‘Divided’ which is from their new album out in June and it’s a killer ultra-melodic tune that definitely got my juices pumping. If this song and performance is anything to go by it’s awesome to have the Dan Reed Network back in the game.

Obviously ‘Rainbow Child’ was a really awesome moment but so many songs raised the roof off ‘Baby Now I’, ‘Make Her Mine, ‘Get To You’ the list goes on! Here’s hoping these guys follow the Tyke’s example and become firm fixtures on our gig calendars and new album purchase lists!

80’s icons Quiet Riot now feature popular Love/Hate vocalist Jizzy Pearl and whilst this line-up isn’t the original but with Kevin Dubrow no longer with us this is the closest I will ever get to see this legendary band so I’m very excited about it. Sound wise as it was last year the sound and the sound engineers have been spot on and flawless for all the bands, no easy task at Festivals BUT they crank the sound a little too much for Quiet Riot and I personally felt if they knocked it down a notch they would have sounded a lot better – am I getting too old?

That aside I thought that they put on a full on rambunctious energetic old school hard rock show that I thoroughly enjoyed and they played all their hits, a tight concise set that didn’t let the atmosphere drop, ‘Slick Black Cadillac’, ‘Whatever It takes’, ‘Mama Were all Crazee Now’, ‘Party All Night’, ‘Life’s A Bitch’, ‘Condition Critical’, ‘Breathless’, ‘Sign Of The Times’, ‘The Wild and The Young’, ‘Let’s Get Crazy’, ‘Cum On feel the Noize’ and ‘Metal Health’.

Jizzy Pearl may not be the greatest singer in the world but he knows how to entertain and he does this style of music perfectly. Frankie Banali is quite possibly sat atop the highest drum riser known to man pounding away a thunderous backbeat like a mad man! A solid heavy raucous rock n roll show that demanded some serious head banging from the crowd – like them or loathe them there is no denying that as live unit they kick some serious ass! A fantastic rock n roll ending to a manic and enjoyable festival!

Yes, I know Gilby Clarke had got the late shift but I was never a Guns and Roses fan so I decided to call it a night and have a few can’s back in the Igloo and rock out to the new Vega album!

The line-up for this year’s HRH AOR wasn’t the best on paper but it ended up been another very enjoyable weekend. The damn cold aside, having everything on site helps give a really relaxed and chilled feel to the whole event and there is an extremely friendly atmosphere – I think this may be to do with everyone been in a constant state of mild drunkenness. They have definitely made a fan of me and I’ll be back next year regardless of the line-up – although Speedwagon would be nice!

HRH AOR 4 @ Hafan Y Mor, North Wales – Friday 11th March 2016

posted 21 Mar 2016, 09:30 by Paul Woodward   [ updated 21 Mar 2016, 13:32 ]

Review by Woody

So I wake up fresh and raring to go for day two of HRH AOR – yeah I wish, maybe in an alternative universe, so sadly by the time I’ve dragged my ass down to the main arena I’d missed openers Estrella which is disappointing because I really enjoyed them when I saw them supporting Robin Beck and House Of Lords a couple of years ago (damn has it been that long!?) at The Robin in Bilston.

I find it really weird that the first time I see Wolvo melodic rockers Iconic Eye it’s in a remote North Welsh holiday camp! Considering these guys are local to me it’s really surprising I haven’t seen them before now somewhere along the line. The band recently recruited Staffie Neil Fraser who I know quite well from other bands and even saw him with Rage Of Angels last year. Their debut album Hidden In Plain Sight is a decent enough album, with a couple of belting AOR numbers on it. But as a relatively unknown band they weren’t one of the most talked about bands prior to the festival.

Overall I enjoyed their set of straight up AOR and were my first real taste of real AOR of the weekend and therefore a refreshing inclusion for my own personal taste’s. I do think their set was a little disjointed though in how they came across, some songs reached out and grabbed the attention of proper AOR fans but other’s whistled by forgetably. I think with a full set of ‘hit’s’ they would have turned more heads than they did. I think the inclusion of two cover version’s mid-set may not have been the wisest move either as I think it gave the wrong impression of the band as a lot of bands do this to win the crowds when their own songs don’t hit the spot. Both ‘Sweet Emotion’ and ‘In A Broken Dream’ were delivered perfectly and the crowd did get into them, but I think at a Festival like this they may have been better off promoting their own material.

Opening their set with ‘Now I Found Love’ was a great way to start as it laid bare what the band were about to unleash and showcased the band at their best. They seem a solid unit of musician’s Fraser’s guitar skills definitely giving the band some bite and his experience definitely helps lift the impression the band purvey. Vocalist Tim Dawkes has a great AOR voice and when he was on fire he really made a big impression but he had a couple of moments where it didn’t quite work. Principal songwriter and guitarist Greg Dean also performed well and I think judging by the strength of the new songs they played which all impressed me I think he’s upped his game in the song writing department too.

A set of up’s and downs but definitely one’s to keep an eye out for in future especially for us AOR fans.

I’d seen Welsh band Kane’d at JB’s in Dudley supporting House Of Lords (I think!) what seems a lifetime ago and really enjoyed them so they were one of the band’s I was most keen to see today. Fronted by three sister’s Stacy, Chez and Steph, that’s right three lead vocalist’s these guys play heavy edged pop rock which is highly melodic which should not be a surprise with the amount of vocal harmonies, interplay and gang choruses you can get with three lead vocalists. It hasn’t surprised me in the least how many people have raved about Kane’d since this performance, they really know how to work a crowd and the three sisters are natural performers putting a lot of sexuality, energy and rock n roll madness into their stage presence. Most the crowd may not have known a single song beforehand but I’m sure they left with many stuck in their heads afterwards and the crowd seemed to enjoy them from start to finish.

The sisters are backed by a quartet of musicians who belt out a mammoth sized sound to back the girl’s vocals, with metallic edged guitar riffs and thunderous rhythms giving the band a huge stadium rock sound. They won over this crowd with ease and the Kane sisters owned that stage and got the crowd involved and singing along.

The set as whole was spot on and I enjoyed every last minute of it, an established favourite of mine ‘Lonely’ got played early on and based on reactions around me I wasn’t the only one enjoying it. ‘Beautiful But Tragic’ was another highlight alongside the wonderfully vitriolic ‘Fuck You’ which followed. We also got ‘Watch Me Die’, ‘I See You’, ‘Rise’, ‘Guilty Of Nothing’, ‘Wasted’, ‘3-2-1’, ‘Covered In Roses’, ‘Lah Di Dah’ and ‘Hero’

High energy metallic flavoured pop rock which is catchy as hell, I really hope to see these girls on the road again soon!

Brit melodic rockers Blood Red Saints have a more traditional melodic rock sound and without doubt one of the band’s most people were keen to see over this weekend. Fronted by Pete Godfrey who came to our attention out of nowhere recently with another band In Faith with whom he quickly won fans and critical applause for his stunning smooth AOR vocals. New band or not they certainly delivered one of the sets of the weekend, obviously with the wealth of experience in the band from the likes of Lee Revill, Rob Naylor, Pete Newdeck and Irvin Parratt you know these guys can rock live. If these guys are playing your way don’t even hesitate to go and check them out your guaranteed a top night of melodic rock delivered flawlessly!

Godfrey has a real dead pan sense of humour and does well at keeping the audience interested in-between songs and whilst maybe not the most exciting frontman he sure shit makes up for that in his vocal ability which is absolutely stunning and touching (but not in the way I’m sure Godfrey would joke about that comment!). A set highlight for me was always going to be The Martin Brothers anthem ‘Best Of Me’ but the Saints also played two new tracks which I really enjoyed, a tad heavier than the songs on their debut Speedway. ‘Dirty Little Secret’ has a strong infectious chorus and the pounding ‘Staring at the Sun’ has a great energy, I think album number two could be even better!

With some mid set banter and reminiscing of the golden era of melodic rock from Godfrey they play a snippet of ‘Wanted: Dead Or Alive’ and get the crowd singing loudly along which I thought was a great way to connect with and involve the audience. They also played a cover of an In Faith song called ‘Does It Feel Like Love’ which I thought was great for fans of the band that brought Godfrey to our attention in the first place to hear. Judging by reactions and talking to others I know many were impressed by the Saints, I’m sure bigger and better is only around the corner for them.

Due to some traffic Russ Ballard is late arriving, so we had a little bit of a wait before his performance. I think like most people this weekend he was definitely one of the must see acts. Some of his songs may be more famous for who they were covered by but there’s no denying what a legend in his own right Ballard is as a musician. Once Ballard and his fellow shall we say veteran musicians take the stage there is a lot of anticipation and expectation floating around the audience. And well if there was any doubters Ballard nailed it, his experience and that of his band shone through as his band delivered an insanely melodic set which featured a lot of very familiar songs to us all.

He also spoke freely in between songs giving us a little bit of history and anecdotes about the songs that was really intriguing. I loved the set so much I was going to go and see him on the Sunday evening at The Robin after getting home but due to ‘been too old for this shit’ I crashed as soon as I got back! Which is a great shame as I’m sure it was a great show that I missed.

As the set came to a close Ballard smiled and said ‘do you want the rocker?’ before launching into an energetic ‘Since You’ve Been Gone’ which had the audience singing the roof off before they got even louder for ‘God Gave Rock N Roll to You’. It was a fantastic set from a musical legend and I’m ecstatic that not only I got a rare opportunity to see him perform but also that it was a great set to experience! A real highlight and kudos to the HRH team to making it happen.

Now I’ve been moaning about having to miss Tyketto at The Robin where they were due to play the following evening to anyone who would listen – the last time they played HRH they played the following night in the Black Country too, I’m pretty sure the Tyke’s fooking hate me! So I needed the Tyke’s to be on form tonight to stop my whining! Well of course they brought their A game and had me smiling like I’d just gotten a blowie from Julianne Moore their Ty-fooking-ketto! I don’t know how they do it but ever since I saw them for the first time in 2004 on the reunion tour they just seem to get better and better! Louder, stronger, more energetic - Danny and Co just seem unstoppable as they win new fans with every single live show.

It’s the 25th anniversary of their classic debut album Don’t Come Easy so for this mini-tour they are playing the album in its entirety but backwards. Danny’s humour raising many a laugh as he state’s “well if we play ‘Forever Young’ first you’ll all leave”, whilst the Tyke’s are far more than a one hit wonder too many myself included the band acknowledge the anthemic nature of the song and its importance to those of us refusing to have more than twenty-one candles on their birthday cake.

The Tyke’s now featuring Ged Rylands on Keyboards and British guitarist and underground melodic hero Chris Green on guitar are firm fixtures of their line-up give an amazing band performance alongside Danny and fellow original and unsung backbone of the Tyke’s on drums Michael Clayton Arbeeny!

To refer to this set as high energy would be an understatement and was captivating from the outset. Vaughn is without doubt one of the best and most charismatic frontmen there is and not only does he rock out and get the audience involved with every possible sing along he also manages to give a flawless vocal performance. So for fans of their debut album this was a real treat especially when songs like ‘Walk On Fire’ which they haven’t been played live for a long time rock us like it was 1991! Also the little surprise they slip in is ‘Walk Away’ which was the B side to the ‘Forever Young’ single and I’m sure that’s a real treat for most including myself who haven’t heard that song before let alone live!

For those of you who don’t know the running order of Don’t Come Easy this is how the set went – ‘Sail Away’, ‘Strip Me Down’, ‘Nothing But Love’, ‘Walk on Fire’, ‘Lay Your Body Down’, ‘Walk Away’, ‘Standing Alone’, ‘Seasons’, ‘Burning Down Inside’, ‘Wings’ and ‘Forever Young’ which if you think about it is a genius set list as it build and builds you into a frenzy come the final trio of absolute melodic rock awesomeness!

When it comes to live music it really doesn’t get much better than this hence I never miss the Tyke’s when they are in my neck of the woods (well except when I’m stuck in North Wales damn it!). A definite weekend highlight with the most explosive rock n roll show so far!

I’ve heard a lot of negativity about Joe Lynn Turner over recent years so was unsure what to expect from him tonight especially following the Tyke’s. About half way through Turner’s set I decided it’s always best to make your own mind up and not always take other’s comment’s for fact because vocally I think Turner was not only strong but he blew me away delivering some of the classic’s we know and love him for. He’s assembled a fantastic support band around himself who provide a fantastic backing providing a flawless musical accompaniment for his voice. Which isn’t easy when you consider most the songs tonight were from Turner’s tenure with Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow!

I think the set was well picked for the audience he was in front of sticking to the highly melodic songs of his Rainbow days. While many would have loved a Sunstorm song or two I think a classic set from Turner allowed him to build a great atmosphere and connect with the whole audience not just us underground AOR ninja’s! During Turner’s phase with Rainbow they were going through their highly commercial stage so all those songs are really hitting the spot with me and I found Turner’s set flashing by and loving it! This mash up of classic rock and melodic rock gives the songs a real strong guitar groove while still having massive sing along choruses – which obviously pleased the audience as a whole. This is the first time Turner has played the UK in a full band for some time so again HRH have pulled off a rare treat for melodic rock fans. Also from my perspective as I was very young when Turner was in Rainbow, this was a really great opportunity to hear those songs live.

Turner has a great stage presence and when he’s singing he’s totally in his element but he also engages with the audience well and connects as much as possible talking about the songs and their meanings. Much like Ballard earlier in the evening I found this really interesting what I also liked is Turner explained that his lyric’s came from personal experience’s which also gives the songs a little more impact as you see them as even more relatable.

Obviously ‘I Surrender’ is a big highlight which Turner announces as been one of Russ Ballard’s songs which I thought was a very respectful gesture but I also really got into ‘Can’t Let Go’, ‘Street of Dreams’, ‘Stone Cold’ and ‘Can’t Happen Here’ but Turner managed to set the place on fire with some of the loudest singing of the weekend along too ‘Long Live Rock N Roll’ which sent us all out on a tremendous high!

If Turner does ever manage to get a full band tour of the UK going I’d highly recommend you getting down to one of his shows, cause the guy delivers those classics’ and then some!

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