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Emma Scott presents - The Whiskey Syndicate + Charlie Can't Surf + Winterstorm + Trigger + Dark Forest (2/2/11)

posted 25 Jul 2011, 15:30 by Paul Woodward   [ updated 25 Jul 2011, 15:42 ]
Review by Woody
Pics by Tony Gaskin
This is my first and definitely not my last trip to catch an Emma Scott Presents show. Its a great set up for giving bands a chance to perform on a decent stage and hopefully to a decent sized crowd, I do have to tip my hat to Emma’s efforts which highlight and give live opportunities to Midlands’ bands! Keep up the good work Emma, the Midlands’ rock community appreciates it!
First up tonight is Dark Forest who are a straight ahead N.W.O.B.H.M band. Within two songs I realised very quickly that these guys are huge Iron Maiden fans - in the way they play, the singer even sings in a Bruce Dickinson style and also in the denim and mullet image the band sports. Even if you caught the band in passing you could be forgiven for thinking you’d stumbled on an Iron Maiden tribute band as that is the band Dark Forest most made me think of. The guys are good at what they do, as musicians they’d got performing their own songs down to a fine art and if you like N.W.O.B.H.M in its original unadulterated form, these guys will have you flicking your mullet around with your arm raised in a devil horn salute. If that’s your bag you best make sure there is room on your denim jacket for a Dark Forest patch! A solid set included “Green Knight” & “The Pipes Of Pan”.
Trigger were the only band I knew on tonight’s bill, a recent melodic rock discovery of mine and I was really looking forward to their performance after a jaw dropping revelatory appearance at my local boozer! Unfortunately tonight the sound mix the band received took away a lot of their songs’ power, and wasn’t the best showcase of their talents nor highly melodic tunes. Matt’s keyboards were inaudible, which annoyed me no end, Dan’s vocals were also very low in the mix and sometimes Sally’s backing vocals overpowered rather than complimented Dan’s voice. The only part of the sound I was happy with was Chris Hingley’s guitar sound, and the crystal clear playing highlighted this guy’s impressive playing, from the hook filled riffs to intricate solos.
Despite my issues with sound the band did come out and try and give 100%, doing their best to put on entertaining rock n roll show, unfortunately the sound guy let them down badly tonight. I think my highlight of the show was probably the Bon Jovi- esque “Alone Tonight”, but I also enjoyed the opener “Erased” & “Born To Fly”. The bands’ ode to X-factor “Synthetic Celebrity” fell most obviously to the poor sound mix tonight, a song which really grabbed me a week ago with its various hooks - which is a shame as this song is REALLY good. I definitely recommend checking this band out, even if you weren’t impressed tonight! I know I’ll be seeing these again very soon.
I have seen Winterstorm supporting Delain at JBs in Dudley and I did think the guys were OK that night, although they are a little heavier than what I would normally listen too. I do have a soft spot for female fronted symphonic/Goth metal bands like Epica & Within Temptation, but I do sway to their more commercial sounding material. Unfortunately Winterstorm are a little too heavy for me and therefore didn’t really capture my attention. For me the standout part of this band is Hannah Fieldhouse as her talent is undeniable. Whilst she sings more gothic than I tend to go for, on a few songs her voice hit me and I felt I wish she would sing in this vein more often - sometimes the heaviness of the material drowned her out, which didn’t help. Also Hannah plays LEAD guitar, yes you read that right, as well as singer she is lead guitarist and to be honest the guitar playing that piqued me interested emanated from her guitar. Given Hannah’s vital role in the band quite understandably means her performances are quite sedate but the other band members make up for this, most notably their masked wrestler and possibly mentally unstable, keyboard player, who threw himself full into not only his own performance but that of the band. Winterstorm also brought along a good number of fans and they made their voices heard and threw their hair around fast and high!
Charlie Can’t Surf have a stripped down bare bones sound, which puts me in mind of Reef and The Black Crowes. The band really impressed me with their songs, which had some great swagger and their lead singer had a really smooth and impressive voice. The band perhaps doesn’t have much stage presence and maybe this is something that will come in time, but the quality of their music is what impressed me and many around me. The band even got a “NOOOOO” when they announced this would be their last gig, which was quickly followed by a cheer as the singer announced last gig with the current line-up as they are adding an extra guitarist to the mix! The band went down extremely well, and I was far more impressed with these guys than I originally thought I would be, a nice surprise. Amongst the band’s songs were “Beer”, the rather impressive “Catch Me” & the bands final song “Encore”.
I’ve heard good things about The Whiskey Syndicate, in fact very good things, but I was yet to be won over by snippets of their songs I’d heard floating about on the net. This was my first time seeing the band live although they perform and play around the region like it’s going out of fashion! My first thought was what the previous band lacked in stage presence TWS brought in bucket loads they grabbed the audience from the get go and refused to let go! They are loud, nasty, rip snorting and fully embrace the full on rock n roll stage show. The audience tonight just seemed to absolutely love these guys; I didn’t think I was watching a local band trying to break the big time! Surely given this performance and this crowd reaction it’s only a matter of time that these guys are playing on bigger stages to bigger audiences.
TWS are a full on rock band with massive guitar riffs that demand some head banging, there’s no asking lightly, it’s time to dance or leave! I really liked the singers powerful vocal which gave the songs a real edge and power, there’s lots of bands out there who play in a similar vein but not many have singer of this calibre – I expect this band to stand out in the crowd and go places.
Many of the bands suffered from a bad sound mix tonight, but I felt the sound for TWS was near perfect, until drummer Stu Adams shouts across the room to have his mike turned up ‘cause he’s having to shout his head off! I found the band highly entertaining with their exuberant, energetic, modern classic rock songs, I have been converted! Now where are the guys playing next? I didn’t catch many song titles but amongst their set were “Meaning Of Life” & “Nothing To Hide”.