This is my second visit to new local music venue
Lucy’s Bar in Hendesford, it’s a venue I really took a shine to on my first
visit so I’m quite excited to see two bands there tonight who take me back to
my youth. Both Dante Fox and Lost Weekend emerged onto the British underground
melodic rock scene in the mid ‘90’s and it’s great to see them performing again
Weekend have been an ever present band over the past 16+
years in the scene, regularly releasing albums and principal songwriters
vocalist Paul Uttley and guitarist Dave Thompson have even managed to have time
to write songs for Bob Catley’s solo album The
Spirit of Man. Tonight’s acoustic show features a slim downed line up of
Paul, Dave and the welcome return of keyboard player Irvin Parratt.
I had forgotten what a great band Lost Weekend are,
their acoustic set by nature was a laid back affair, but was totally engrossing
and enjoyable. The guys were obviously well rehearsed and the set was well
chosen as every song came across stunningly well. Paul’s voice was as
distinctive and as emotive as ever, something I felt was missing on the band’s
last album Fear & Innocence where
the vocals seemed too clean and devoid of Paul’s usual distinct vocal style, so
it’s great to hear him back to his best.
The beauty of acoustic shows is that it can allow
guitarists to show off their technical abilities and show a more intricate style
to their playing. Dave relished this and some of those riffs’s sounded even better
in this format than when plugged in! Irvin’s keyboard’s were nice and high in
the mix and he excelled on the tracks previewed from the bands forthcoming
album Evermore although he did seem
to get a little lost on some of the other tunes!
Lost Weekend took this opportunity to play a trio of
songs from their upcoming opus Evermore and
all were really impressive and seemed to signal a return to the more overtly
AOR roots of the band or at least to my ears that’s how it sounded! The
touching ballad ‘Angel Sublime’ got a great reaction from the crowd and the
wonderfully catchy ‘Be Who You Wanna Be’ made my anticipation for the new album
really peak. The song that really gained me interest of the three though was
the second song of the evening which I think is called ‘Love Will Find You’
which really struck me and I immediately thought the sound echoed the bands
more straight ahead melodic rock beginnings. The band had ventured into more
classic rock sounding territory akin to UFO on their previous album Fear & Innocence, so given the vibe
of tonight’s new songs I wouldn’t be surprised if the new album veers more
towards the melodic rock sound most associate with the band. Irvin’s keyboards
on this song in particular were quite delicious!
The band were allocated a nice set length so managed
to get quite a few songs into their set including ‘Faith’, ‘Shining Star’, ‘The
Eagle’, ‘Stone Hearted Woman’, ‘Back Street Livin’, ‘Beautiful Mind’ (which was
written for Bob Catley) and the wonderful ‘All hands To The Fire’ from my
favourite Lost Weekend album Presence of
Hopefully the band will get a few live shows or
Festivals to promote Evermore and you
should definitely take the time to go and check them out!
I’ve been a big fan of Dante Fox since they came onto the scene way back when but believe
it or not I have never ever seen the band perform a headline show, it’s always
been Festivals or support slots! So tonight is a rare treat for me, so thanks
to the band and Lucy’s for making this show happen!
In many ways tonight was probably the best I’ve ever
heard the Fox, the sound at Lucy’s really did showcase their songs and
musicianship in the best possible light and it’s a real shame that there wasn’t
more in attendance tonight to hear the band in fine form! They may be used to
been a support act but they really grabbed the bull by the horns tonight and
delivered a fantastic and musically diverse headline show.
If I’m honest nostalgia did get the better of me
tonight and I thoroughly revelled in their older material, in particular the
back to back offering of ‘Lost & Lonely’, ‘Under The City Lights’ and ‘I
Can’t Sleep’. We also heard ‘Lucky Ones’, ‘Firing My Heart’, ‘Breakin Me Down’,
‘Goodbye To Yesterday’, ‘Lost Man’s Ground’, ‘The Last Goodbye’ and ‘Who Stole
Sue was on top form as everyone has come to expect
from her live! She pours so much effort into her vocal delivery and given the
quality of her performance tonight that effort is plain to hear! Although Sue
is well known for her powerful rock vocal it’s actually on the beautiful ballad
‘Secrets’ that we hear what Sue is truly great at it’s not about power it’s
about emotion and goose bump inducing vocal melodies. She really does put more
well known vocalists to shame with her emotive and stirring voice, and although
she won plaudits for her powerful rock vocal on the heavier edged Under Southern Skies it is actually on
the more melodic songs that we hear the true beauty of Sue’s Voice. She really
went for it on this song pouring herself fully into it; I suspect it may be a
favourite of Sue’s given her strong and emotive delivery, probably the
highlight of the whole evening!
Now I can’t forget the rest of the band Tim is a consistently
strong live guitarist and he of course shines on the heavier material that
gives him chance to belt out some chunky and driving riffs, but I think what
really got me tonight was the quality of Tim’s solo’s he frequently came to
centre stage to belt out a solo and the crystal clear sound at Lucy’s really
made the jaw drop when Tim came to the fore! Drummer Andy Perfect’s and Bass
man Al Mill’s years of live work experience is evident in their cool and
relaxed stage presence. I have to say it was excellent to see Keyboardist Pete
Lakin actually onstage this time after him been relegated to the side of stage
at The Slade Rooms last year, It may not be a huge stage at Lucy’s but it’s big
enough to get a Keyboard player on! Although I thought it was a bit cheeky to
insist on having three keyboards! I may have dribbled a little bit when I saw
the keyboard stand....but I ain’t confessing to nowt!
As a live band Dante Fox have come on leaps and
bounds in recent times and although many have criticised their stage craft in
the past the amount of live work and experience in recent times really shows as
the Fox are now far more at home on stage! The round off their set with
‘Remember’ which the band have finally ground me down on and I am starting to
really enjoy as part of their set, the wonderful sound at Lucy’s really helps!
They leave the stage briefly before returning for the encore of ‘Walkin The
Line’ which see’s the band leave to a loud applause from the small but loyal
and appreciative crowd.
It’s great to see Dante Fox so active at the moment
and I can’t wait to see them perform live again!
Review By Woody
Photo By Rob Stanley
I have been boring everyone I know to death with how
excited I have been about this gig since it got announced, not only has it been
a long time since Vaughn entered the Black Country for a gig but he is also
playing my favourite venue The Robin! I had worried that with Danny playing the HRH
AOR Festival just a few days prior would have a negative impact on turnout
tonight especially with it been a Monday! So it was great to see a decent crowd
gather for one of the best voices in melodic rock tonight!
The support act tonight is Brummies Lovebite who are riding high on lots of
critical acclaim for their album Locked
& Loaded and it is popular with certain members of the Midlands Rocks
team. I have seen the band before and thought they were OK; I wasn’t impressed
with the vocals though but was keen to give the band another listen! On paper I
should love these guys; they play glam rock which veer’s more towards straight
forward melodic rock rather than the rawer sleaze edge that their image
They just didn’t grab me tonight, the songs just
didn’t stick with me and the band’s performances fail’s to move me. I really want to like these guys as they
are a young band who are full of piss and vinegar and rock star swagger and
attitude, but they really need to write some killer tunes to match.
They do have a lot of potential to improve with
guitarist Tryx in particular impressing with his guitar skills and I’ll be keen
to see how the band progresses. But again tonight I’m finding it hard to warm
to Johnny’s vocal style. Good to see a genre appropriate band supporting
I’ve seen Danny
Vaughn live more times than I have had hot dinners and he never fails to
entertain – bad nights just aren’t his thing! Vaughn has always managed to keep
an active live presence going whether it be solo or with Tyketto and this has
made him extremely popular with fans of live melodic rock! His hard work and
stunning performances have gathered him a lot of respect and he has made his
gigs un-missable to the melodic rock faithful!
I went to this gig thinking this has the potential
to be the greatest gig I’ve ever seen at The Robin, knowing what a great
performer Vaughn is as well as the great sound that will be at his disposal
tonight! I was right! Danny brought his A game with another awesome performance
even though he was tired from a long weekend at HRH AOR – hats off to the man
for still putting his all in, when 5 minutes before hitting the stage he was
probably wishing he was in bed! The sound was spot on and in some ways this was
probably the best I’ve ever heard Danny!
Danny has assembled a new band around him for this
solo tour, which Vaughn informs us is to support the re-release of his first
two solo records which he has packed onto a dual disc set called Reprise.
Joining Danny is Ged Rylands on Keyboards and
Guitars. Ged is probably best known for his work with British melodic rockers
TEN, but he is currently working with Tyketto on their live dates and with
Danny in his own band Rage Of Angels. Ged went from keys to guitar flawlessly
and added some great backing to Danny’s performance, a very talented musician
and it’s great to have him back in the melodic rock scene!
On bass is Danny’s Ultimate Eagles band mate Chris
Childs, you may know him from a little band called Thunder! Chris is one of the
most reliable musicians in the biz and whilst he’s not an overly engaging
performer preferring to allow others to take the limelight he is a flawless
backbone to the band. On Drums was the impressive young scot Dave McLusky, whom
I’m sure we’ll be seeing more of in the future.
Guitarist Jon Sudbury who I have to admit is a new
name to me was really impressive. It’s clear to hear why he was brought into
the band as he does real justice to all of these songs, knowing when to go for
the crunch or to hold back depending on the flavour of every song that was
played. I hope we hear more from him, he was faithful to the originals and
wasn’t forceful in putting his own stamp on the songs, and was an extremely
impressive guitar player.
Vaughn is probably one of the greatest front men I’ve
ever witnessed and he keeps that feeling up tonight. I always like how
naturally he can flick between been a strong hair tossing mic stand wielding
rocker and been just at ease with his acoustic guitar which he frequently picks
up throughout the show. One thing I like about Danny’s music is a lot of it is
acoustic based and it lends a flavour to his music which makes him different
from a lot of the bands I enjoy.
Danny is an extremely passionate performer; he has an
honest and genuine feel to him, which gives the songs more meaning, intensity
and emotion. Danny’s music on the whole is quite thoughtful and deep and whilst
I love throw away feel good tunes it’s like eating fast food you’ve forgotten
it minutes later and are still hungry, but Danny’s music is more like a Sunday
roast filling and satisfying.
I also like the way Danny connects with his fans, he
embraces them as friends and has very familiar attitude to people which really
endears people to him and makes his shows quite intimate. His appreciation of
his fans comes across as very genuine and heartfelt and his desire for his
music to move people and to be enjoyed makes you like him even more, he wants
you to feel and connect to his songs and this comes across in his songs even
more with his powerful and emotive stage presence!
I was shocked Danny didn’t play melodic rock anthem
‘Forever Young’ in his encore, I can’t remember the last time he’s omitted it,
but one of the great things about a Vaughn set list is you never know what
you’re going to get! We did get a few Tyke’s tune though, my favourite Tyke’s
track ‘Meet Me in The Night’ was played early in the set and was one of my
favourite moments of the evening, ‘Battlelines’ from the latest Tyke album ‘Dig
In Deep’ which got a great crowd reaction! As well as ‘Seasons’ and the sing
along inducing ‘Wings’ which was part of the encore and the crowd were almost
singing louder than Danny himself!
We were also treated to ‘Bad Water’, ‘Badlands
Rain’, ‘Restless Blood’, ‘Fly Away’ and ‘The Voice’. There was some really cool
uplifting moments like ‘Just Like That’ and ‘Lifted’, but most smile inducing
of the lot was ‘Always’ from Danny’s pure AOR project From the Inside, which
was smooth and beautiful.
As said be the man himself he went from something
nice and fluffy to something a little more nasty with ‘Was There A Moment’
which is one of my favourite Vaughn solo tracks. There’s a really drive and
emotion in this song that never fails to grip me live and Sudbury does a spot
on job with those crunching guitar riffs!
One of the best crowd reactions of the evening
actually came for ‘The Warrior’s Way’ which was a song written for the live
arena and it’s easy to hear why this song is so well loved. Danny has always
been a songwriter who tries to think outside the box and throw a few songs in
the mix which may seem a little odd or perhaps not fit in with the other album tracks;
one of these songs is ‘Carry Me Home’. He introduces the song as a personal
favourite and although it’s a song he’s never had a fan say they love or
connect with it’s still a song he’s most proud of. I think the song is more
popular than he thinks and I hope the response from the crowd tonight made him
One of the most moving moments of the evening was
‘This is how we say Goodbye’ a song that has deep personal meaning for Danny,
and he quickly states he hopes he keeps it together through the song. His
performance was really stirring and visibly emotional for Danny, I don’t know
about him keeping it together, I almost lost my shit a couple of times during
the song. The song came across extremely well and I’m sure even the hardest
heart was sporting a wee tear during Vaughn’s heartfelt performance.
Vaughn closes the set with a bang and probably one
of his most popular solo sing along’s ‘Is That All There Is’. He introduces it
with a wry smile and tells us the origins of the song and how many of his fans
connect with it and states we must have all have had some fooked up
relationships! Yeah tell me it about it! Whilst lyrically quite a dark song it
does finish the night on a high with a chorus of fans singing every word back
I came out of the Robin thinking ‘BEST GIG EVER’! And
I fooking love that feeling! Hopefully Danny will be back again in the future
and maybe with Tyketto too! Now he knows how awesome we are....
Literally an hour after Showtime Danny Vaughn posted
this on Facebook – and before the cynical amongst say ‘yeah, yeah I bet he did
this after every gig’ he didn’t and not like this.....
Sometimes, your hard work pays off and something special
happens. Monday night in Bilston, Robin 2 sounded a lot like Saturday night to
me. The band played our best gig yet, the spirit of the fans moved me to push
beyond the hoarseness, The guys were note perfect and I have rarely felt quite
as powerful or emotional on stage. Thank you, each and every one. – Danny
Jeff has been excited about his European tour dates
for quite some time and he was keen to not only support fellow musicians but
also offer fans a value for money line-up, so tonight’s support acts have benn given the
JSS seal of approval!
It’s no surprise with the Asylum venue been owned by
Shy bassist Roy Davies that the occasional melodic rock act will slip through
onto this emerging Brum live music venue which has gathered a loyal following from
its club nights which has lead to it been an ideal venue for Kerrang friendly
metal and also very extreme and death metal which are becoming the venue’s
trademark. Also if I’m honest The Asylum’s main room is probably the only live
venue in Brum I actually like so it’s great to see JSS here!
Although tonight’s opening act Danger Angel have the seal of approval of JSS and he produced their
brand new album Revolutia I wasn’t initially
excited by the prospect of seeing these Greek’s perform. Their previous album I
thought was really poor and the vocals were awful and they made the album
almost unlistenable. Against my better judgement I got my hands on Revolutia in preparation for these shows
and after giving the album a spin I was left thinking was it the same band?! The
latest album see’s a monumental improvement in the band’s songs and the new
singer M.T is a hundred times better!
So it’s absolutely no surprise that tonight’s set
only featured songs from their latest opus! The venue was still filling up as
the band hit the stage but they came out ready to rock as though the room was
packed! The sound was crystal clear for them and it really showed the band’s
songs off in the best possible light. They definitely won some new fans tonight
judging by applause and crowd reaction to their brand of highly melodic rock
with a dark twist.
I think the most striking thing about Danger Angel
is that Keyboardist Ahas not only came onstage wielding a mighty Keytar he performed
the whole set with IT!!!! So obviously this allowed him to be more mobile
onstage and he worked the stage like a guitarist which was great to see as the
keyboardist normally gets shoved in the dark at the rear of the stage! I was
really impressed with his performance in particular as his key’s are very
important to Danger Angel’s sound.
I really need to do some research on these guys
because they performed like stage veterans and didn’t come across like a new
band in the slightest. Vocalist M.T was engaging and vocally strong throughout
They played ‘One Hit In The Night’, ‘Road Kill’,
‘Dead By Christmas’, ‘Falling’, ‘When I’m Gone’, ‘Don’t Die Young’, ‘Not An
Angel’ and ‘I’m Not Here’. Their set was cut short though by the no nonsense
stage manager and the band reluctantly and abruptly left the stage; it was
obvious they wanted to play for far longer! My opinion on these guys has spun
360 and I really hope they do manage to get back to the UK in the future!
Next up was a three piece lead by Guitarist Jorge Salan who is also part of JSS’s current
touring band. Obviously Jorge has Jeff’s seal of approval so I’m reluctant to
say anything negative but I have to admit that Jorge’s set did see a dip in the
momentum of the evening built up by Danger Angel.
At first I wondered if it was because most the songs
were in his native Spanish tongue, but to be honest they just didn’t grab my
attention and the band lacked the fire and stage presence of their predecessors
so they weren’t exactly an exciting band to watch.
He also bunged in two very well known covers, which
was probably a good idea as they got the best reaction’s Bon Jovi’s ‘Lay Your
Hand’s’ and set closer Gary Moore’s ‘Over The Hills and Far Away’.
The best thing about Jorge was whilst watching him
play and hearing what he was capable of, I was thinking wow this guy should be
great on Jeff’s solo songs, his songs
didn’t grab me but his talent was plain to see!
I think most people here tonight were very excited
to see Jeff Scott Soto live again as
it has been quite a while since he’s toured the UK! So it’s great to see Jeff
come bursting on stage all guns blazing and seeing him so wildly fired up
during the show’s opener ‘Take You Down’ and he was greeted by a wall of
cheers! Jeff then told us that he was running on adrenaline as he hadn’t slept
for almost 48 hours after been unable to sleep in Belfast the previous night
knowing he had a really early flight into Brum, so he was all apologies if
things weren’t right tonight. He really shouldn’t have worried as he and his
band put on a storming show regardless, admittedly his voice was a bit raw to
start off with but as the set wore on he soon got back to his usual self but
this didn’t distract from an immensely enjoyable set form Jeff and his band!
It was a really fun gig, Jeff engaged the crowd
frequently and was very jovial and the band did plenty of ad-lib and pastiches
on the usual concert ‘set piece’s we’ve all become used to over the years.
Something I felt was great and it was done in a really entertaining way, they
all seemed so up for it tonight especially Jeff who was in fine form and
although suffering from sleep deprivation was enjoying his time on stage!
Jorge Salan was as good as I thought he would be and
did an amazing job on all the songs played tonight, Jeff had picked his
guitarist well. We had B.J on Keyboards and Guitar’s who was a really
impressive multi instrumentalist with a great voice of his own although his
name did bring much piss taking from Jeff. Drummer Edu Cominato also helped out
on backing vocals and was a really impressive drummer, I really liked that when
he got his drum solo he played well known drum sections from songs so rather
than the usual boring drum solo, yes we know you can hit shit! And yes we know
you can hit it fast and indeed slow! But I actually enjoyed Edu’s drum solo,
and I never thought I would ever say I enjoyed a drum solo!
In fact Jeff gave all his band solo moments which
they all did a great job on mainly because they chose to do melodies and songs
as opposed to a little self indulgent show off jam widdly bollocks , which I’m
sure not only myself but the crowd were appreciative of!
Bass man David Z though WOW what a performer, he
bounced round the stage with as much energy and fire as Jeff himself with a ten
mile smile for the entire night. The pair bounced off each really well and
enjoyed a lot of banter and it was really fun to watch them interacting! We
need to see more of David Z in the UK! ZO2 (That’s David’s own band) for a UK
Festival soon please!
I had thought Jeff got a great crowd reaction from
the start, but when four songs in when BJ starts playing that unforgettable
opening keyboard riff from W.E.T’s ‘One Love’ I thought the roar was going to
tear the Asylum a new hole! I think it’s safe to say Jeff’s side project W.E.T
is very popular! It was great to hear the song as I hadn’t expected to hear any
W.E.T songs and they are not a band who I think I’ll ever see live, so it was a
really cool moment to hear this song live!
The crowd did take it’s time to warm up and initially
weren’t as noisy and into it, but as the set wore on they got louder and
probably drunker too! I think Jeff choose a good set of solo material including
‘21st Centaury’, ‘Damage Control’, ‘Look Inside Your Heart’ which he
messed up the lyric’s up on and too much laughter and apologies he made the
band start over as he wanted to do it properly for the fans – he just needed
the first line! ‘Soul Devine’, ‘Tears I Cry’, ‘Broken Man’ and ‘Eyes Of Love’.
For me the highlight of the entire set was the
Talisman medley. I’d love to see that band live; I know it’ll never happen and
understandably so due to the tragic passing of key Talisman man Marcel Jacob,
but when you hear Jeff doing this Medley you just wish you was at a full
Talisman concert! So we heard snippets of ‘Break Your Chains’, ‘Day By Day’,
‘Give Me A Sign’, ‘Dangerous’, ‘Mysterious’, ‘Just Between us’, ‘Frozen’,
‘Crazy’ and of course ‘I’ll Be Waiting’ on which before the reprise of the
chorus he tapped his Talisman t-shirt re-marking I’ve got unfinished business,
this unfinished business! It was a great medley and Jeff nailed it perfectly!
Oddly Jeff did a cover Wildlife’s ‘Shot In The Dark’
you know the band the Overland Brothers of FM were in prior to FM, oh hang on a
minute didn’t that Ozzy Osbourne turn it into a worldwide hit, that cheeky
Brummie scamp! Jeff did a great rendition of the song and it certainly got the
crowd going! We also got ‘Livin’ The Life’ and the set closer was ‘Stand Up and
Shout’ which Jeff wrote and performed for the film ‘Rockstar’. They left the
stage doing a cheeky improv acapella rendition of Steel Panther’s ‘Community
Property’ which got everyone chuckling!
Given the roar and chanting which continued after
the encore the band were compelled to come back out again, and Jeff said “well
we did cut one song to stick to the curfew, shall we do it”! Unfortunately the
no nonsense stage manager was there as a quick as a flash to usher the band
off-stage, which was a shame and made the fella rather unpopular! I know curfews
are the law and breaking them can lose you your license, but I couldn’t help
thinking if this was JB’s or the Robin....given the crowd demand, we would have
gotten that extra song!
Jeff promised us a killer show in the build up this
tour and he delivered it all as promised! A great fun evening full of laughter,
energy and Fire! Thanks Jeff! Now don’t leave it so long before you return!
When FM announced this tour it would be remiss of me
not to mention that the prospect of seeing FM in the Black Country left me a grinning,
dribbling, fan boy ball of excitement and anticipation. Then they go and add
Vega and Serpentine to the bill, which as you could imagine led to a house call
from the local constabulary after complaints of loud whooping and hollering had
caused an avalanche in the Alps! So it is safe to say this melodic rock triple
bill at The Slade Rooms in Wolvo, was at the top of my list of things to do in
2013, just below Julianne Moore *cough*.
It would be unjust of me to say Serpentine opened the night with a bang, they did just that but
that statement doesn’t really express what the Serp’s are about, it would be better
to state they opened the show with delicious smooth melodic style. I’ve had
some doubts about the sound quality at The Slade Rooms, sometimes it’s great
but I really did fear the venue would struggle to give all the bands the sound
their multi-layered melodic beauty deserves. So my jaw bounced off the floor
when the Serp’s sound was not just good but totally spot on, their sound guy is
a genius and I think he should go to every gig I go to and say – ‘Nah ya don’t
wanna do it like that, ya wanna do like this!.
So the sound showcased the band’s brand of keyboard
drenched smooth traditional AOR with maximum
effect, generating a warm response from established fans, but also obviously
winning new fans as the crowd responses to each song intensified as the set
It’s never easy opening a show but the Serp’s have
gathered a lot of live experience in the past few years and deliver a well
performed show with ease and confident stage presence. The charismatic Matt
Black really does make the band a full force entertainment unit live, with his tongue-in-cheek
fun loving humour combined with a powerful voice more well known vocalists
would sell their soul for. Although he announced early on he was going to keep
the chat to a minimum so they could fit as many songs into their set as
possible, he did manage to get the crowd laughing on more than one occasion
with his lad-ish humour, albeit at bass man Gareth Vanstone’s expense!
So they ran through a tight set-list of ‘Deep Down (There’s
A Price For Love)’, ‘Lonely Nights’, ‘Philadelphia’, ‘In My Blood’ and set
closer ‘Whatever Heartache’. I enjoyed the set as a whole and it’s a pleasure
to hear a band playing traditional AOR music so well live it has become such a rarity
in recent times, young lads with a long future ahead – probably best not to
leave your wives and girlfriends alone with this lot.
fast become my favourite band since their debut album Kiss Of Life was released a couple of years ago, The bands feel for
melody and understanding of the traditional melodic rock sound combined with
the desire to push the sound outside the genre and embrace a more modern sound,
has really captured me and made me extremely passionate about them. The AOR songwriter’s
songbook may be my bible and comforter as far as music is concerned and
although I know the band have ripped it up and are taking their own path into
uncertain territories I’m very much on the rollercoaster with them and enjoying
every last minute of the ride!
It was fantastic news when I heard they were
supporting FM, not only did it mean I got to see VEGA at a local venue (which
therefore makes it a better than any other venues, because, well, I said SO!)
and also gave them a perfect audience to perform too and not only appease the
already growing army of VEGA fans but also win new fans over to the VEGA
side.....This is the band you are looking for. (Crap star wars joke?! Ahhh fook
it, I liked it!)
The small stage space at the Slade Rooms wasn’t
really great for a six piece band which saw drummer Dan Chantrey tucked in the
back, with Marcus Thurston (guitars) Tom Martin (Bass) Nick Workman (Vocals)
Ben Christo (guitars) and Keyboardist James Martin virtually standing shoulder
to shoulder or in the case of Ben and James shoulder to keyboard. That of
course did restrict the bands mobility, but it didn’t take any of the fire out of
their strong and confident stage presence, they commanded the stage like it was
Nick declared this was a hometown gig for him and he
wound the crowd up by stating that he had told the rest of the guys that tonight’s
crowd would set the benchmark by which the rest of the tour would be measured
by so not to let him down, and the crowd didn’t! You could see with every cheer
from the crowd Nick’s smile grow bigger and bigger as the crowd of fans which
up until VEGA he knew well from years of gigging the local area, he knows if
you can get a crowd together in the Black Country, they’ll scream for you,
they’ll sing for you and they’ll keep the party going! Tonight’s crowd proved
everything Nick had told the guys tenfold, leading him mid set to turn to Tom
Martin and say ‘ I told you didn’t I, Wolverhampton is where it’s at didn’t I’
and just as he’s about to kick into the next song he turns to James and say
‘and I told you too!’. Of course I’d be biased towards my local area, but that
doesn’t make a fact any less a fact! I’m really hoping tonight’s stellar
response to their performance brings them back to area again in the future!
I have to say Nick was like a man on a mission
tonight after taking recent accusations of the band using backing tapes to
heart, he at every opportunity stretched his voice to dispel the rumours and given
some of the imperfections throughout the set from the entire band, all part of
the beauty of live music and why I love it, anyone who came away from this gig
and said they were using backing tapes is obviously not right in the head! Also
rumours of the band playing crowd noises through the PA system was not audible
maybe the real crowd drowned them
The sound whilst not as perfect as the Serp’s was
still great and thankfully had James’s Keyboard’s balanced right in the mix and
it enhanced the sound of the band perfectly, just the way his magical key’s do
on CD, which was delightful for me cause at the show in Nottingham last year
James may have been better pulling up a seat next to me and enjoying the show,
for how neglectful the sound man was to the Key’s that night!
Guitarists Marcus and Ben are not officially members
of VEGA, but as hired guns they really do earn their stripes with the band as
they know every note of every song like the back of their hand. Given both guitarists’
work with much heavier bands, it’s no surprise that they sounded a lot heavier
tonight than I’ve witnessed previously or indeed as they are on CD. This didn’t
harm the show and really did give the band some forceful impact. If I’m honest I
did miss Nick Horne, who I very much class as part of the VEGA team, he plays
lead guitars on their new album and has been with the band at every live show I’ve
seen and he does have a more melodic style to his playing which I really enjoy,
it’s a shame he couldn’t commit to this tour!
Oddly given reports I’ve heard from other gigs on
this tour, it seems they got a longer set at Wolverhampton something I’m not going
to moan about and be very appreciative off! The band kicked off with established
crowd favourite ‘Kiss Of Life’ before the excellent ‘You Can’t Run’ picks up
the baton and see’s some sublime drumming from Dan Chantrey. Given the lack of
stage space Nick does frequently lean over onto the crowd barrier especially
when winding and spurring the crowd on to sing along, as in Nick’s words they
like a good sing along! Towards the end of the set Nick climbs down the barrier
to kiss his daughter, who’s at the front of the crowd, which I thought was a
really touching moment! I know I know I’m a big soppy bastard!
‘Saviour’ came across really well live, whilst the
song has great impact on CD, I wasn’t sure it would have the same impact live –
the guys proved me wrong! The Def Leppard flavoured ‘What The Hell’ got the
crowd stomping before the anti- Jovi of ‘Not There For You’ showcases what the band
is best at! The familiar intro to ‘Into The Wild’ makes me smile like a seeing
an old friend before kicking into what is sure to become a staple of the bands
future shows ‘She Walks Alone’. The band
started with an electric atmosphere and they never let up and they got everyone
singing to the radio friendly ‘White Knuckle Ride’ before making the whole of
Wolvo put their ‘Hands In The Air’ before they left the stage!
It was another strong performance from the VEGA guys
in front of a VERY appreciative
crowd. It’s also great witnessing the VEGA fan snowball grow bigger with every
live show. People keep saying these guys are going to be big, they sound
promising ect.... NO the band are here and blowing us away NOW! It’s just a
matter of time till everyone else joins the party for them to be big...and
trust me it really is just a matter of time!
Surprisingly given how cold it is outside The Slade
Rooms is increasingly turning into a sweat box by the time FM come on stage. I’ve managed to see FM twice since their
reformation and enjoyed both performances immensely, having never had the
opportunity to see the band back in the day it has been great hearing some of
my most loved songs performed live. Tonight though had a slightly different
feel to it, it felt more like old school eighties FM, more keyboard heavy and there
was a strong sense of good old nostalgia about tonight’s performance. For someone
who never saw the band at that time it was wonderful experiencing how it would
have been then. This was mainly down to the set concentrating heavily on the
bands first two albums.
Steve Overland’s voice never fails to impress and
his silky smooth blues tinged tones bring every song to life exactly as he has
always done. A better front man you couldn’t ask for engaging and flawless.
Obviously Merv and Jim benefitted from more stage space, than the support acts
and both made the most of it and although sweating buckets both seemed to be
enjoying the loud crowd responses to every song. Jim definitely showed his versatility
as a player performing in a more traditional melodic rock sound on most songs,
previously he excelled well on the bands latter material and beefed up the
guitar presence of the early songs, tonight though his performance is more
faithful to the original sound which judging by the crowds response was being
really enjoyed! Drummers don’t really get the appreciation that other more
visible band members get, but Pete Jupp’s ever reliable performance provides a
great backbone to the bands live performance.
Keyboardist Jem’s performance I think was the most
important tonight as he is thrust into the spotlight more often and with more
significance tonight than previously. Something he seemingly takes in his
stride, and my keyboard loving ass enjoyed immensely! I have to admit I was
expecting more songs from their rather excellent ‘Rockville’ album which feels
like old school FM to me and many of the songs would have sat easily amongst tonight’s
set. No complaints on the set though from me as they aired songs I never
thought I’d ever hear them perform. So of the new tunes ‘Tough Love’ opened the
show and grabbed a rather excited audience by the ears and the song garnered
cheers usually reserved for more well known hits, the infectious ‘Only Foolin’
provides one of my highlights of the evening mid set and again the crowd
greeted it like an old favourite! ‘Crosstown Train’ was the first of the songs
in the encore and I think the FM faithful liked it because the Wolvo crowd took
the roof off to it!
My highlights were ‘Let Love Be The Leader’, ‘I
Belong To The Night’, ‘That Girl’, ‘Bad Luck’ and my biggest holy shit moment
was the melodic beauty that is ‘Does It Feel Like Love’! We got a jammed packed
almost two hour set from the FM guys and they really didn’t disappoint with a set
which kept everyone in attendance happy. They also played ‘Love Lies Dying’,
‘Hot Wired’, ‘Frozen Heart’, ‘Don’t Stop’, ‘Over You’, ‘Burning The House Down’
and they close the night out with ‘Other Side Of Midnight’. Which see’s Jem don
his keytar (all hail the Keytar!) and come front and centre for a song which
see’s everyone sent home with a big cheesy satisfied smile!
Obviously with FM having not played the local area
in a long time, they may have been concerned not only with turn out but also
crowd reaction and I think they were genuinely took aback by the loud and
obviously loyal crowd who came out to see them, FM have always been very good
with their fans and have always made them fully aware they appreciate their
support and they do all these shows and albums for them! I think tonight’s mob will
have put all their minds at rest as to if they have a following in the
Midlands! Here’s hoping they’ll be back and with tonight’s response I’m sure
they will be! A Great night, if you weren’t there you really missed out!
Tonight proves that not only is their new young
talent in the melodic rock genre but also the established bands can still bring
it and just as importantly there is an audience for this style of music on the
live front. Melodic Rock it lives, IT LIVES!!! And cue maniacal laughter.
By Rob Stanley
After Epica’s frankly epic debut show at The Robin
early in 2011 I was buzzing to see them return to the Robin. After a cautious
collection of UK headline dates last time around which turned out to be highly successful,
Epica return this time with a more extensive UK tour and obviously from my
perspective it was great to see Epica return to the Robin after what was a
truly spectacular gig. Obviously they had a lot to live up to but now they have
an established foothold in the live scene here I’m sure many were keen to
witness the band on their world ‘Requiem For The Indifferent’ tour.
Much like their last visit Epica have brought along
an appropriate support act (nothing worse than seeing a death metal band open
for an West Coast AOR band – trust me I’ve seen some right choices for support
in my time!) and again an extremely popular act in their own right with Stream of Passion. I’m actually quite
surprised these guys have never managed a few UK headline dates themselves so
they proved popular when they were announced as support for this tour. I’m
actually really familiar with the band, perhaps even more so than Epica, so I
was pleased to see them strut around the boards at The Robin.
Obviously with these female fronted bands the focus
will always been on the lady leading the charge, although Stream of Passion are
a Dutch band their leading lady Marcela Bovio is actually from Mexico! She’s a confident
front woman with a powerful vocal, admittedly not as strong as Epica front
woman Simone Simons but then there aren’t many who could even rub shoulders
with Simone so this is not a put down in any way. The positivity surrounding
the bands support slot and rare opportunity to see the band in the UK, was
visible amongst the crowd as a strong contingent of fans at the front made
their voices heard and banged their heads for the entirety of the bands hour long
set. I felt this was also a nice touch from Epica giving this band a decent set
length giving their fan base a chance to see them perform properly and maybe
giving them a leg up for their own future shows on UK soil.
Streams of Passion made the most of their time
onstage and put on a grand show as a musical unit, the quality sound system at the
robin gave the band a real presence and showed the band in all its glory which
many small clubs would have robbed the band of. Marcela even dazzled us with a
song with her playing a violin shaped like a flying V guitar, which was very
Amongst their set list we heard ‘Passion’, ‘Collide’,
‘Games We Play’, ‘My Leader’, ‘Out In The Real World’, ‘In The End’, a cover of
Radiohead’s ‘Street Spirit’ and finale ‘This Endless Night’.
Judging by the crowd’s reaction the Stream of
Passion guys appeased their fan base and then some, I’m sure this will pave a
way for the band to return in the not too distant future.
With how packed the Robin was last time round for Epica I had decided to go as early as
possible to get a drooling spot right up the front! So as I arrived bang on
doors opening and with no queue, I thought ‘way
hey’ I’m going to be in touching distance of Simone tonight. The self
discipline I showed upon entering the gig room and seeing the dance floor half
deep in people huddled together as close to the stage as they could squeeze and
not charging them screaming and beating a path through them with my Simone
Simons drool bucket deserves a Nobel peace prize. As my mate chuckled to
himself it seems my fellow ‘leaches’ had gotten here first....oh the
Thankfully I still managed to get a great view of
the stage albeit not in my favourite spot so I can’t complain too much! As the
crew set up the stage for Epica I noticed Simone’s oddly shaped mic stand and
wondering to myself what the hell it was about, it curved into a semi circle
sticking out to her right. Within seconds of the bands opening number it was
apparent why the mic was shaped the way it was and it wasn’t decorative as I
had wondered it was actually a practical customisation to allow Simone to head
bang and more importantly do what I call the ‘strawberry swirl’ throughout the
Epica as a whole unit are a solid live act and they
blew us away last time and tonight they were determined to steal our breaths
with an even more intense show. Last time the band seemed unsure about response
and turn outs from what they felt was an unknown territory. Tonight they
performed with extreme confidence, like returning heroes knowing full well
given their last experience they are well loved in the UK.
I always love how symphonic bands show due respect
to their keyboard players and assemble the stage so they aren’t shoved away at
the back or squeezed into a corner in the dark– something I wish other genre’s
would take heed of. So Keyboardist Coen Janssen was very much part of the
visually stunning and energetic performance put on by his band mates. Betwixt
the light show and the band swaggering around the stage it was an extremely
enjoyable visual show, although I could have done without the strobe lights.
Simone’s vocal performance was strikingly impressive
and how she maintains this level of quality up night after night is truly
amazing. Within the Symphonic metal genre, Simone definitely stands head and
shoulders above all others with the quality of her voice. She is so beautiful
too and is a captivating front woman with a strong stage presence, a warm smile
and an entertaining energy. I found myself totally immersed in her stage act throughout
the evening and mesmerised by every gesture, smile and of course those damn
Simone and Guitarist Mark Jansen are always
encouraging the audience to get involved with chants and clapping, it really
does add to a great atmosphere as the fans embrace the music, something some
bands sorely neglect. Don’t get me wrong, crowd participation can be a bit
cheesy and old hat, but getting your fans into the flow and life of the gig
should be paramount!
Epica actually lifted their set list from all their
albums and wasn’t as heavy on new material from their latest album ‘Requiem for
The Indifferent’ as I had presumed which was nice. We heard ‘Unleashed’, ‘Serenade
of Self Destruction’, Monopoly Of Truth’, ‘Sensorium’, ‘Martyr Of the
Freeworld’ and ‘Cry For The Moon’.
They played a slightly different version of old
classic ‘The Phantom Agony’ which had a dance beat thrown into the chorus which
induced a lot of pogo-ing and head banging from the younger members of the
crowd. I think my favourite moment of the night though was oldie but goodie
‘Quietus’, Simone sings like an angel totally enthralling!
As the band leave briefly for the encore the crowd
never stops demanding their return until keyboardist Coen returns who speaks
briefly to us thanking us for turning out and mentions the variation in the
ages visible in the crowd, stating their was more older people in the crowd
than they are used to before stating the party still wasn’t over! I’m not sure
if this was an indication of the Robin audience or the UK in general cause in
my experience symphonic metal is far more popular with middle aged people than
it is with students, so it was not a surprise to me. It is kudos to the Robin
though if the band felt the age mix was more varied here, I know many people
avoid ‘student’ favourite venues as they feel intimidated and unwelcome at those
places, so it’s a big thumbs up to the robin for running and encouraging a
friendly and above all an all inclusive venue in more ways than one! A lot of
venues should take a leaf out of the Robins book!
So for the encore we got a fantastic rendition of
‘Storm The Sorrow’ and ‘Consign To Oblivion’. It was great to hear Simone with
a huge smile on her face say that of all the previous dates we were bar far the
best crowd they had played too in the UK. I know this sort of banter is said at
most gigs but when it comes to shows in the West Midlands and more so
specifically in the Black Country, these statements tend to be truth – FACT!
We’re just that fooking awesome. Seriously you ask around.
Epica are such an entertaining band that it should
be made compulsory to go and see them live, I tell you now I’ll NEVER miss the band when they hit the Black
Country again! In fact they’ll have trouble keeping me away!
Photo's By Mark Lloyd
First up of tonight’s four bands is much talked
about Welsh rockers Hangfire, I’ve
heard a lot of positive’s through the grapevine about these guys and tonight is
my first opportunity to check them out. If I’m honest the songs failed to have
any real impact on me and nothing really stood out. I think the band really
need to write a few more killer tracks to stand out amongst the glut of Blues
influenced ‘Biker bands’ that are around at the moment. Admittedly Hangfire’s
dirty and grimy sound isn’t stereotypical of my usual taste in music, but even
so I still think the band need to develop their song writing a bit more and
look at ways to make their songs have more impact.
The only song that really made me sit up and listen
was ‘For Crying Out Loud’ which the band have been pushing as a single it also garnered
some good reactions from the early bird crowd! They also played ‘You’re No
Angel’, ‘Faith In Me’, ‘Adrenalize’ and ‘Drop The Ball’.
Blind guitarist Lizzy Evans has some real talent
that is undeniable even though the songs tonight lacked real bite for me, I was
still impressed with a few of his guitar licks and solo’s. Front man Max Rhead
has a likeable stage persona who chatted frequently with the audience and has a
decent gravel filled voice perfect for this style of rock, the only real
quibble I had is that he mentions Lizzy’s blindness at every opportunity –
almost as if it was part of the stage act. Lizzy’s disability is obvious and of
course the singer relating this too the crowd in jovial and affectionate ways is
nice to see and endears the fact that his disability makes no difference to how
he is treated or viewed by the rest of the band. BUT to quote Max himself when
he referred to Lizzy ‘Milking It’ when it came to his blindness he was just as
guilty of it tonight!
Another band I’m hearing a lot of buzz about is
Brummie sleaze / glam rockers Lovebite and
they are next to hit the compact Slade Rooms stage. Half way through the first
song I’m thinking to myself, now this is more my type of rock n roll. These
guys are obviously influenced by the more melodic ‘Hair Metal’ and sunset strip
bands of the late ‘80’s and musically these guys put a huge grin on my face – I
think it’s about time I tracked down their album ‘Lock N Load’.
The sound did let the guys down on a few occasions,
but overall I enjoyed their set, I wasn’t too sure about Johnny Sparks vocals
on the night though if I’m honest. I’d like to check the album out and hear the
band with a better sound live before being too harsh though. I love the bands
on stage attitude which reflects perfectly the rebellious nature of their
music. They played ‘Breaking The Rules’, ‘Sin City’, ‘What’s The Point’ and
‘Too Much Is Never Enough’.
They choose a great song to cover in Danger Danger’s
‘Don’t Blame It On Love’ a song I love by a band I adore! Unfortunately they
totally murdered it, but it’s great to see these guys have a great taste in
music and their influences! I have to say I was impressed and I will definitely
be hearing more of Lovebite in the
I have seen Black Country rockers Shyne once before supporting Lee Small
at the Robin during the summer, their debut gig, and was really impressed with
their brand of 80’s inspired melodic rock. So I was keen to witness the band
again, the first thing I noticed is they all seem far more confident on stage
especially singer Toni Gale who struts around the stage engaging the crowd with
every word and arm sweep dragging the audience into their rock n roll circus!
As much as my Robin loving ass hate’s to admit it
the Slade Rooms seemed to suit the band’s sound so much more than the Robin. At
the Robin I felt the needed something to fill their sound out, more backing
vocals and keyboards was my thinking. Here at the Slade Rooms though they
sounded huge and their infectious rock n roll engulfed the small venue. They
sounded so much more impressive tonight and a mate of mine who had criticised
Toni’s vocals previously I think tonight he would have been less critical as I
felt his vocal performance tonight was far stronger. The sound wasn’t perfect for
them but I don’t think this hampered how they came across to the crowd who eat
up the bands energy and enthusiasm with relish!
There’s a lot of momentum behind this band at the
moment here’s hoping more shows and a debut album are in the works before too
long. Shyne already have a good selection of songs with varying styles so these
guys won’t get accused of having an album of songs that all sound the same!
Ranging from songs that pay homage to the hair metal sound of the late 80’s to
more obvious smooth melodic rock that I love.
They played ‘Shine On’, ‘I’m On Fire’, ‘Do You Want
It’, ‘Sunshine Girls’ and ‘Who Are You’. My personal picks from their set would
be ‘If I Could’ and the delicious ‘I Can’t Sleep’. There is a lot of rock bands
coming out of the Black Country and Brum at the moment, it’s good to see a few
who can create some great sing along melodic rock tracks! I suspect we’ll be
hearing a lot more from Shyne...
I saw Welsh glam-sters Tigertailz right here in the Slade Rooms a few years back and had a
cracking night, there have been a few line-up changes since then though in fact
the only musician returning from that gig is guitarist Jay Pepper. Prior to
Vocalist Kim Hooker leaving the band earlier this year original Tailz drummer
Ace Finchum had rejoined and completing the line-up is fellow Welshman Jason
Sims on Bass, Rob Wylde on guitars (Teenage Casket Company/ VEGA) and
Australian Jules Millis (White Widdow) on Vocals.
I’m not sure on exact turn-out figures but it did
feel like the crowd tonight wasn’t as big as the previous Wolves show. Which
surprised me a bit given the solid reputation the Tailz have as killer live
act, I presume it may be down to the line-up changes. Regardless the Tailz
crashed onto the stage like returning heroes!
Again the Tailz rocked the Slade Rooms to the ground
and the new line-up delivered a storming rock n roll show. They are perhaps a
little less metallic and sounding a little softer leaning towards the bands
original glam origins. I think with the inclusion of Jules on vocals it was
inevitable the band may veer to a more melodic rock sound than the glam metal
sound the Tailz had grown into in recent years.
I had seen Jules front his melodic rock band White
Widdow earlier in the year and although I’d been told he was unwell that night I
felt he struggled as a live vocalist as I love his voice on both the White
Widdow CD’s. So I have to admit I was a bit worried how he would do tonight. It
was like watching a totally different front man; he was exuberant, energetic
and controlled the stage. He kept the audience’s attention and jumped on the
Crowd Barrier on many occasions to lean into the crowd. Most importantly though
Jules vocals were spot on, he was a thousand times better than the last time I
saw him and although he doesn’t have the same voice as we are used to hearing
sing these songs I think he not only does them justice but brings a renewed
energy to the band on the Tailz’s earlier material.
Although I’m sure the band were totally knackered
after their Hard Rock Hell shenanigans they soldiered on and gave us a very
enjoyable evening of rock n roll mayhem! They played a shortened festival style
set which I presume was their HRH set list from the previous evening. So we
heard ‘Living Without You’, ‘Sicksex’, ‘Love Overload’, ‘Tear Your Fucking Heart
Out’, ‘She’s Too Hot’, ‘Twist & Shake’, ‘Dirty Needles’, ‘Hollywood Killer’
and inevitable set closer and crowd pleaser ‘Love Bomb Baby’.
I have to admit the crowd weren’t as noisy as the
bands previous visit but this didn’t dishearten the Tailz who looked like they
were having a blast onstage. Jay Pepper again was very vocal throughout the
night, talking about Pepsi Tate and money that had been raised over the past
few years in his name and it’s great to see that the Tailz bass man will never
be forgotten and forever missed. Jay always does his bit to get the crowd
revved up and once again he calls for a roar from the crowd asking ‘are we in
the Black Country!’ and he gets his roaring response!
For those with any doubts about the new Tailz
line-up I can whole heartedly state they are well worth seeing and they are
doing a bang up job of keeping the Tailz music alive!
Photos By Rob Stanley
Tonight’s opening act Liberty Lies were amongst one of the first bands I reviewed for
Midlands Rocks and I’ve managed to see this young Black Country band a few
times over the years. I remember thinking their brand of classic rock infused
rock n roll showed promise they just needed a few stand out songs to really
make it. The band has evolved over the years and become a solid live act with
their constant touring and live performances. Admittedly this is this first
time I have seen them live with the current line-up with new guitarist Matt
Nickless and Bassist Adam Howell and if I’m honest I barely recognised them as
they took to the stage.
Although the band had continued to evolve steadily
tonight it felt like I was watching a totally new band in many ways! Gone are
the Classic Rock and Led Zep influences that once drew me to the band, they now
have a more contemporary sound which could be likened to bands like Shinedown.
If I’m honest the musical direction the band has gone in has lost me anyone who
knows me knows I detest Shinedown with a vicious passion. That said I was left
slacked jawed at the five piece as a live act, energetic and powerful and all
the live experience has made them a very slick live act. Liberty Lies are very
much heavier now but the few changes the band has made seems to have pushed
them naturally into a direction that suits them far more than the retro-vibe
their earlier material showed.
Sadly Vocalist Shaun Richard’s seems to have lost
his prominent Black Country accent but he’s lost none of the power in his voice
or his enthusiasm as a front man. I’ve always enjoyed Josh Pritchett’s guitar
work and stage performances and tonight he seemed very much in his element and
the heavier material saw him let rip through-out the bands short set. The new
guys also seem a perfect fit and definitely push the band in a direction which
should see them break out of the local scene!
Now it’s time for major fan boy time for me as tonight’s
main support is Black Country AOR heroes Dante
Fox! I’ve been a big fan of this female fronted rock act since purchasing
their debut album ‘Under Suspicion’ back in the mid ‘90’s. The band have just
released a mini-album entitled Lost Man’s
Ground and have been plugging away on the live front in recent months
including a slot supporting the mighty Night Ranger down in London! Tonight see’s
the Fox introduce a heavier clutch of songs into their set-list in preparation for
their upcoming performance at Hard Rock Hell!
I haven’t seen the Fox live for a few years now so I’m
overjoyed this support slot popped up so I could get another opportunity to
sample their AOR goodies live! I’m also witnessing the current Fox line-up for
the first time tonight too which see’s Pete Lakin on Keyboard’s, Andy Perfect
on Drums and local bass man Al Mills (Eden) joining the core Dante Fox writing
partnership of Black Country duo guitarist Tim Manford and Vocalist Sue
They delivered a fantastic half hour set, which was
warmly lapped up by those who had come to see them tonight. The band as a whole
was really relaxed and everyone seemed to be really enjoying their time on
stage and it showed in a near faultless performance. Tim obviously loves the
heavier material and it allows him to be more expressive on stage. The Fox came
across really well and although the Slade Rooms isn’t the most ideal venue for
melodic acts the sound was good enough for the band to showcase their intensely
melodic brand of rock n roll!
Sue has always been a consistently strong live
performer vocally and any fan of the band will never dispute that Sue always
delivers in that department, and tonight’s no exception in fact bar a few minor
boo boo’s in the first song I’d actually argue this was the best I’ve ever seen
and heard Sue! I think some of this was down to how relaxed and at ease she was
on stage tonight, sometimes in the past Sue has come across as quite shy and quiet
on stage but tonight she was jovial and charming. I’ll probably be biased and
say it’s cause it was a hometown show for her and therefore there was less
pressure, but whatever the reason it was great to see Sue smiling and mucking
about on stage.
Even when her mic packed up she made light of it and
I had forgotten how strong Sue’s Dudley accent is and it’s always great to hear
a REAL accent from stage! My one gripe would be that when Sue was telling us
about the bad day she’d been having she mentioned that she’d brought a new
dress that was too low cut.....errr....there’s no such thing as too low!
Sue has a really evocative and emotion drenched voice
and vocal style and it was a real pleasure to witness her performance tonight,
she may not bounce round the stage like a kid with ADD who’s just discovered a
six pack of red bull, but her stage presence draws you to her and she conveys
so much passion through her eyes as she is singing!
The Fox opened with the powerful rock punch of
‘Lucky Ones’ and ‘Breaking me Down’. New song ‘Who Stole The Innocence’ came
across stunningly well combining the heavier rock stance of recent Fox songs
with their out and out AOR roots. Of course it was the AOR joy of ‘Firing My
Heart’ which drew a smile to my face but it was the heart stopping performance
of ‘I Can’t Sleep’ which really stole the show for me, the band seemed to go
into overdrive on this track with Sue going all out and totally immersing
herself in the song and her passionate rendition of the song was really jaw
dropping, the best five minutes of the entire night for me!
They finished with the song they always finish with
a cover of Stevie Lange’s ‘Remember My Name’ and it was a powerful way to end
the set, I have to admit it’s never been my favourite song of theirs but
tonight it just felt right and a perfect way to say goodnight! It was great to
have The Fox back in the Black Country here’s hoping it isn’t too long before
they return again!
I saw Swedish funk rockers Electric Boys support Thunder a few years back at Wolvo Civic Hall
and to be blunt thought they were absolutely abysmal that night! I thought I’d
give the band another go when I saw they were coming back to the Black Country
after all the recent reports of how good the band were at the moment on the
live circuit. It was like a polar opposite to my previous Electric Boys gig,
the band were on fire and I think the band’s sound lends itself better to a
small club atmosphere than big arena’s and halls.
Unlike so many bands who lose or replace members
over the years the Electric Boys line-up gracing the Slade Rooms stage is all
the originals – Conny Bloom on Vocals, Franco Santunione on Guitar, Andy
Christell on Bass and Drummer Niclas Sigevall.
They delivered a full on no holds barred rock n roll
show without taking too much time to breath in between songs which added to
pump up the atmosphere of tonight’s rambunctious performance. Tonight’s
attendance wasn’t going to break any records, but the fans made their voices
heard and when asked to sing along they did so with gusto! There’s a really
great sweaty atmosphere tonight reminiscent of many nights spent in JB’s Dudley
over the years!
I’m sure all the Electric Boys fans went home with
huge grins after the band gave us 90 minutes jam packed with groove and energy,
with highlights like ‘Groovus Maximus’, ‘Knee Deep In You’ and encore ‘Lips
& Hips’ really standing out tonight. The band as a whole threw themselves
into the performance and Conny Bloom is an impressive front man reveling in the
spotlight. My only minor problem with tonight’s performance was they tended to
drift off into mini jam sessions on occasion which just flew over my head, I
think you have to be a musician to truly appreciate this style of impromptu
All in all a pretty good night of varying musical
style’s wrapped up in a fantastic laid back and enjoyable atmosphere. We shall
not talk about my fat ass breaking the lift *Cough*...
Review By Woody
Photo's By Rob Stanley
I’ve seen tonight’s openers Daylight Robbery a few times in recent years and I’ve become quite
a fan of these hard gigging Brummie melodic rockers. The last time I saw them
perform at a venue in Brum they were having a real bad night and the utterly
useless sound at the venue only compounded their bad form that night. They are
normally a quite tight unit live, better than many big names, so I knew all
been well they’d be a good bet for an entertaining start to the gig.
I wasn’t wrong; it was a polar opposite of their
last performance. The band was on fire and they delivered a delicious set of
strong melodic hard rock! The stellar sound at The Robin provided them with a
perfect launch pad to assault us with their highly melodic songs from their
debut album Cross Your Heart. Front
man Tony Nichol has a strong and powerful vocal and he really pushes himself
onstage to be as a perfect as possible, tonight he provided a no nonsense let’s
get straight to the rock performance and spoke very little in-between songs to
make the most of their short set!
They surprisingly managed to get seven songs played
which was great for my melodic rock loving ass! Before the gig I wasn’t sure
how they’d go down with the Wolfsbane audience, from my perspective the seemed
to like it and in the rare moments Tony gave the crowd time to applaud it
seemed exceedingly positive! As I’ve already mentioned the band are a real
tight and competent live unit and Drummer Ben Dixon and Colin Murdoch on bass
provided a cool and confident backbone to the bands performance as I’ve come to
The superior sound at the Robin, which is perfect
for Melodic Rock and AOR bands, allowed guitarist Mark Carleton to shine most
noticeably with his perfectly performed performances on the two opening numbers
‘Cross Your Heart’ and ‘Shame On You’! Those crystal clear air guitar inducing riffs
and licks were outstanding and really drew you into the magic of these songs. I
have to say Tony in the past has seemed to have been the focal point of the
band and something he seems to relish, tonight he seemed quieter and less
active whilst his vocals remained as impressive as I’ve come to expect. However
this did allow me to observe the rest of the band more and they have improved
their stage presence greatly since the first time I saw them, most noticeably
is Mark’s swaggering confidence and more dramatic performance when throwing out
We got live show staples ‘Reunite’ and ‘Real Love is
The Answer’ before I’m shocked when Tony introduces a new song ‘Samarah Never
Sleep’s’ and wow what a new one to slip into the set, highly melodic with a
fantastic big chorus. The sort of rock song that ticks all the right boxes for
me, I did spot a few exchanges of smiles between Colin, Ben and Mark so I’m not
sure if there were a few hiccups during this premier performance of the song,
not that it seemed to matter to my ears! Without a doubt one of the most
commercial songs they have written and I’d LOVE even more in this vein from
They wrapped things up with my favourite track of
theirs the compelling melodic drama of ‘While You Were Sleeping’. A top
performance from a great Midlands band, destined for even better, I highly
recommend you check these guys out given opportunity!
Next was official support Electric Cake Salad another midlands band, this time from Tamuff - that’s
Tamworth to you who don’t live in the good part of the Midlands! Their debut
album was produced by Wolfsbane axe man Jase Edwards. I’d heard the word
electronica used in reference to the band so I was starting to get nervous,
especially when it became obvious there was no drummer – yeah NO drummer and
yes it was freaking me out!
As the band appeared I felt a sigh of relief as the
guys were obviously not kids, so no rapping and turntables eased my growing
fear. If I could compare the band to anyone it would be bands like Filter and
Stabbing Westward, guitar heavy but with strong dance overtones. Honestly they
really aren’t my thing and I can’t lie and say I enjoyed them, but as a couple
of guys were pogo-ing like their life depended on it and singing every word
back at the singer I realised it was best not to say these guys are shit, just
nod and smile!
There was not much about the band that really
inspired my interest and their constant dipping into well known dance music
sing a longs didn’t help, but they seemed to get many of the crowd juiced up.
They played amongst others, if I caught song titles right, ‘Ruthless’,
‘Superstar’, ‘This Is No Alternative’ and ‘Absent’.
So who would have predicted that in 2010 Wolfsbane would reunite record a new
album and proceed to conquer the live circuit again, no I wouldn’t have either.
These Tamworth lads built up a wild reputation and loyal support in the form of
the ‘Howling Mad Shitheads’ in the late 80’s and early 90’s. Wolfsbane split
when singer Blaze Bayley notoriously joined Iron Maiden, a lot of time has
passed since then and it seems Blaze has come full circle and returned to the
band and musical style that made his name!
I was expecting mostly an older crowd tonight but
was shocked to see just how many youngsters were littered amongst the howling
mad shitheads, proving that the band and it’s rambunctious beer soaked rock n
roll is still very much relevant 20 years later! Although I have to admit I
wish ‘the students’ with the world’s largest hand held video cameras in the
world would have been more discreet, A+ on getting in the way of my rockin’!
The only down side to not having a crash barrier at the Robin is you can’t
shove all those pesky photographers in front of it out of the way!
Wolfsbane certainly were not treating this as a
nostalgia trip with a large chunk of their new album Wolfsbane saves the World getting an airing amongst all the
classics. Wolfsbane may not be the greatest musicians in the world but what
they do do is put on a full on rock n roll show full of energy and excitement
with songs that pack a metal punch but are also surprisingly melodic! These
beer soaked rebellious anthems have the whole of the robin rockin’ and singing
along. Blaze must have found it was like shooting fish in a barrel when
encouraging this crowd to join in! The
band all seemed to love their time onstage, Jase smiling from ear to ear and
Jeff Hateley bounding round the stage with the lowest slung bass known to man
like this was his stage, not Blaze’s, Not Jase’s, his FOOKING stage!
It has to be said the ‘Howling mad shitheads’ really
live up to their name and the crowd adorned the band with yelps of approval at
every opportunity. They are all crazy as hell, but it makes for an exciting
atmosphere as you witness all these hardcore fans go nuts for their musical
heroes. Without doubt one of the most fun bands I have ever witnessed and after
a bad run of poor gigs this show had me smiling like I’d just discovered a
winning lottery ticket or Simone Simons of Epica had finally agreed to marry me
and get rid of that silly restraining order!
Blaze was on real form vocally very strong and
impressive! His banter with the crowd and his slightly unhinged stage presence
was highly entertaining and he had us laughing on many occasions. As the leader
of the world’s best looking band he explained to us that he is new and improved
and he’s upgraded his six pack to a one pack over the past 20 years. I also
like his theory on hair loss – Alien abduction! Personally I wish they’d leave
my scalp alone and pick on Justin Bieber instead! It’s always great when bands
acknowledge the local area, Blaze referring to the Black Country and some local
places on a few occasions – my quest to remove West Midlands from my address to
be replaced with the far superior ‘Black Country’ is still ongoing and the more
people who call the area by its real name not it’s government given slave name
the better! I don’t know what Brum’s going to do when we gain home rule though.
So the set list included ‘Live Before I Die’, ‘Black
Lagoon’, ‘Smoke and Red light’, ‘Blue Sky’, ‘Loco’, ‘Kathy Wilson’, ‘Teacher’,
‘Temple Of Rock’ and ‘Paint the Town Red’. Highlights for me were of course the
commercial beauty of ‘I Like It Hot’ – c’mon lets light up the night with a
little kiss!!! The rambunctious energy of the fantastic ‘Did It For the Money’
and the infectious chant of ‘Man Hunt’ complete with roadie in wolf mask
They gave us a four song encore including ‘Illusion
Of Love’, ‘Seen How It’s Done’ and the closer the anthemic ‘Money To Burn’
which the howling mad shitheads lift the roof off too!
A great gig, the sort of gig you get elbowed in the
face, sweated on by the singer and spend the night getting numerous people head
banging their hair into your bald patch and loving every last minute of it! I
really hope Wolfsbane continue their
mission to save the world with occasional pit stops in the Black Country
– just for shits and giggles.
By Rob Stanley
When I started writing for Midlands Rocks I decided
to take the opportunity to go and see a few bands live that I wouldn’t have
done before. So I sort of have a bucket list of classic bands and when they hit
the region I go and check them out. This has led to me seeing bands like UFO,
Molly Hatchet & Nazareth and now the leading light in British prog –
Marillion. I’m not really a fan of the prog genre as a whole but Marillion are
one of the bands of the genre that have caught my attention over the years, so I
was keen to see what they were like live.
Tonight’s support are DeeExpus and although I was at the civic in plenty of time to catch
them I did miss the first song due to the longest queue I’ve ever seen at the
bar here! Obviously I could have ditched the queue and gone without, but I’d
got a thirst on so it was tough titty for the band. I have a very limited
knowledge of the prog genre so if I was asked if they were any good the simple
answer is I really don’t know. They played to a sparsely populated Civic Hall
as the venue slowly filled up and whilst attendance was very healthy it is the
quietest I’ve ever seen the place.
DeeExpus got some polite respectful applause from
those to the front so I think they were doing something right. However for me
though one mid tempo drone song just blended into the next mid tempo drone song
and I’m really sorry to say I was bored shitless. As my mind wandered, I
actually thought the Midlands Rocks boss is going to kill me as I pondered the
fact I’d definitely come to the wrong gig and we at Midlands Rocks pride
ourselves on sending people to review bands that if they aren’t a fan of them they
are at least a fan of the genre. I suspect a huge slap to the back of the head
is imminent and a stern no more prog for Woody talking too!
So was Marillion
going to alter my thoughts on the genre as they took to the stage to a
roaring applause? Well to be honest no, not that they played badly in fact they
are technically superior to many of the musicians I rave about on a daily
basis. The problem lies totally in the songs, the just bore the crap out of me.
The first song which actually sounded like five different ones was met be a
VERY loud applause from the crowd and if it hadn’t been for this response I
wouldn’t have realised it was all one song! I suppose the fact that bar their
final encore ‘Sugar Mice’ I didn’t recognise a single song didn’t help me to
appreciate tonight’s show.
Vocalist Steve Hogarth held the audience in the palm
of his hand for the whole of their set and they loved every minute of it. Prog
fans don’t tend to get fired up or dance, that’s not what this atmospheric,
multi layered, fantastical genre, is about. They are more polite, always
vocally appreciative and I’ve never seen a bunch of fans so passionate and
loyal in their support of a band. Considering it wasn’t a full house tonight,
the stomping and clapping at the encore was longer and louder than I’ve
witnessed at some breathing space only gigs at the Civic. I think Hogarth
summed up Marillion fans and their responses up well in the following statement
he made from the stage – “We are lucky some bands come on stage to complete
apathy and disinterest, Some come on stage to excitement, some come on stage to
absolute adulation, we come on to affection”.
I’ve always been a fan of Hogarth’s vocals he has a
warmth and tone that I find soothing and relaxing and in the live arena his
voice is very impressive. As a performer he is very eccentric, never standing
still with a very expressive performance style, which at times was mesmerising
if somewhat bizarre at times to watch. It’s easy to see why this band are so
well loved as they really do put on a show, with plenty of dry ice, heart
attack inducing firework bangs and a full on light show.
As a live unit Marillion crafted a fan pleasing set
of atmospheric songs and technically impressive musicianship. I can’t lie to
you and say wow they blew me away because truth be told the songs just didn’t
resonate with me. Judging by the excited talk leaving the venue, I think I’m
totally on my own in this thinking as many seemed to be lustfully looking
forward to the bands next appearance in the Midlands.
The set list consisted of the following, although I
could be wrong please send complaints to the usually sources and the Midlands
Rocks editorial team will beat me severely with a stick on your behalf.
‘Splintering Heart’, ‘Gaza’, ‘This Town’, ‘The Rakes
Progress’, ‘100 Nights’, ‘You’re Gone’, ‘The Other Half’, ‘Sounds That Can’t Be
Made’, ‘Neverland’, ‘A Voice From The Past’, ‘Power’, ‘Fantastic Place’, ‘Real
Tears For Sale’, ‘The Sky Above The Rain’, ‘The Great Escape’, ‘A Few Words For
The Dead’ and ‘Sugar Mice’.
Review By Woody
Photo's By Rob Stanley
The Robin is probably one of the most popular venues
in the Midlands region not only with music fans but with bands too. From
anyone’s first visit this is easy to see and hear why with stellar sound and
premium facilities. So if you’re into Blues/Roots, Prog and indeed a smidgen of
Pop you probably live at the Robin! The venue is also a popular destination for
party goers attending cover and tribute bands. With the ever increasing
popularity of the venue the genre’s represented at the Robin have increased to
include a little bit of Punk and Classic Rock. Unfortunately with how popular
and busy the venue is it makes it heartbreakingly hard for new or bands with a
small following to get a gig at this highly desirable club venue. So with that
in mind I was a little gobsmacked when this last minute addition to Lee’s
summer dates was announced, obviously I was overjoyed at the prospect at seeing
Lee at such a quality venue, but I feared a low predicted turn out would
discourage the venue from putting the gig on. Thankfully all went ahead, with a
small but very happy and vocal audience and turn-out was far better than anyone
could have predicted!
I made a big boo boo with tonight’s support act,
having seen an advert for a local venue which featured a cover band called
Shyne, I had wrongly predicted that’s who we were getting tonight. So obviously
disappointed I didn’t bother to dig any further information out, thankfully,
this Shyne were not a cover band!
This did mean I was witnessing the band totally blind (or should the read deaf?
But you know what I mean!).
They played a short but sweet set of LA strip circa
the 80’s inspired hair metal. Now based on the little info I gathered from the
lead singer, this was the bands first gig and his first appearance on a stage in
eighteen years. If I’m honest that did show a little bit with some obvious
nerves as the first two songs were a little ropey but once they settled into
their set they were flowing really well and were very enjoyable. As musicians
you can’t really fault them, the very young rhythm section were scarily
impressive given their obvious youth. The guitarist and vocalist were obviously
a little older and of course the driving force of the band, having decided to
start the band after getting fed up with the state of the current mainstream
rock scene. I have to say this is commendable and although they still need to
work on their material it is great to see the passion and drive to get out
there and perform and create music regardless of its popularity in the mainstream!
Hats off to the guys, keep it up!
I think they would benefit from introducing some
backing vocals and keyboards to their sound, I think this would enhance their
songs and I don’t think it would distort the sound they are going for. The
vocalist didn’t go down well with a mate of mine but as I pointed out the style
of music he’s trying to create his voice fits in with it – the dude was wearing
a Ratt t-shirt who are an obvious influence and good idea to give you the style
of his vocals. A promising start for a new local band, would I go and see them
live again? Oh hell yeah!
These few summer dates Lee Small has organised are to support his latest solo album Jamaica Inn, his show tonight at the
Robin is the last of the current live dates. It’s great to see Lee who hails
from the Black Country getting a gig here also, whilst we have a glut of venues
in the region, quality ones that’ll give the time of day to original artists are
few and far between. Although I have become a fan of Lee’s over the past 5-6
years his career dates a lot further back and I still can’t get over how Native
Cain passed me by back in the late 90’s with them been a local band and especially
with them been Bob Catley’s backing band for a few years!
Lee’s band of brothers featured ex- Native Cain
members Connor Emms (The New Saints) on Guitar and Dez Wooton (New Saints) on
Drums as well as Jamaica Inn cohort Carl Anthony Wright (Phenomena) on guitar,
Pete Emms (V Rats / New Saints) on bass and Paul Bradder of Saracen on
Keyboards. I have to admit the sense of brotherhood and camaraderie shown on
stage was really heart warming to witness and add to that the vocal and loud
responses from a loyal audience it made for a great and stirring atmosphere.
Also I have to mention sound engineer Mark Stuart who was working his magic on
the sound desk, you may know him as Magnum’s in-house sound man and chief
producer at Mad Hat Studio’s in Wolverhampton. Great to see him coming out and
giving his time and support to a great local artist.
During the set Connor get’s the crowd revved up by
mentioning they had all worked their asses off to get this gig happening and he
felt that Lee deserved to perform at a venue as good as this, this was met with
a rousing and loud cheer of agreement. I couldn’t agree more! It’s not an easy
venue to get a gig at and I’m sure it caused a lot of hard work and worry
making sure it was a success.
Lee’s set was a game of two half’s, or at least that’s
how it came across to me, The first half been full on melodic rock and then
dipping into the bluesy classic rock style as displayed on his latest opus for
the second half. This worked seamlessly and far better than you would perhaps
think on paper and I enjoyed the set as a whole immensely. I have to admit as a
relative newbie to Lee’s musical history there was quite a few songs played
tonight that I was hearing for the first time, this didn’t affect my enjoyment
so it was obviously a well selected set list!
As a massive fan of Shy’s last album which features
Lee on vocals, I was hoping for a tune from that album. I wasn’t disappointed
with ‘Over You’ getting aired early on in the set! Actually that’s my favourite
song from my album of 2011! So I was a very happy dude when I recognised the
intro to this amazing future AOR classic! I was simply stunned with how well
the song came across so big thumbs up to the entire band for bringing this
amazing song to life!
I normally find songs that stick out as highlights
but given the musicianship on offer and the whole hearted performance by all
the members of the band the whole night was a highlight! Any nerves the band
may have had weren’t shown and certainly didn’t affect their playing. Lee’s
vocals were faultless throughout; I can’t name many vocalists of this quality
who can maintain this type of performance up for 90 minutes. The guy is too
good for pubs and it’s a real shame he has to fight so hard for the right to
perform at a venue befitting his talents.
Connor made a great right hand man performing with a
confident swagger and his easy stage presence makes him a pleasure to watch.
With Dez, Pete and Carl all performing with huge smiles as they rocked around
the stage it was easy to see how much they were enjoying themselves and
although he was lurking in the shadows key’s man Paul’s contribution was
Lee spoke to the crowd between every song exposing a
very humble musician who was appreciative of the turn out and their vocal
responses. I think he may have prepared himself for a far smaller crowd as he
seemed pleasantly surprised that a Sunday night and the Olympic closing
ceremony hadn’t deterred people from coming out! He is a very likeable front
man with a great attitude and topped off with amazing voice.
Amongst the set we got the emotive and highly
melodic ‘Children Of A Lesser God’, Native Cain’s ‘Ghost In You’, ‘Jamaica
Inn’, ‘Heartache’, the beautiful ‘Shine A Light’, ‘Dead Man Walking’ and the tongue
in cheek Led Zep homage ‘Walk The Plank’. We also got a cover of Gamma’s
‘Voyager’ which was dedicated to Ronnie Montrose. The encore’s were two classic
rock classics starting with ‘Fool For Your Loving’ dedicated to Mel Galley and
Jon Lord but final song ‘Carry On Wayward Son’ was dedicated to the memory of
New Saints bass player Spon who tragically passed away this year. There was a
nice touch of slipping into Led Zep’s ‘Whole Lotta Love’ to close tonight’s
There may not have been a full house tonight, but
the music was awesome, the musicianship stunning and the atmosphere was
fantastic. I actually thought during the break before the encore what a
wonderful atmosphere there was almost like a sense of brotherhood and mutual appreciation
for this talented group of musicians. I love gigs like this, ones that send me
home with a huge smile upon my face!
I can’t wait to see Lee perform with Shy at the
Steve Harris tribute concert on the 28th October at The Asylum in
Birmingham. From tonight’s performance its obvious Lee is going to do justice
to all those great songs!