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VEGA @ The Slade Rooms, Wolverhampton (4/7/13)

posted 13 Jul 2013, 12:02 by Paul Woodward
Review By Woody

So the summer is finally here and the temperatures have soared promising that my trip to The Slade Rooms to see VEGA was going to be a hot and sticky one! It has taken me a while to warm to The Slade Rooms, although as it’s in the Black Country it is a thousand times better than any similar sized venue in the world regardless ....FACT... because that’s the way it is. My main criticism in the past has been the inconsistent sound quality at the venue; tonight it was pleasurable to hear the sound was spot on for every single band but most importantly for VEGA’s first headline show in the West Midlands!

You do have to tip your hat to Wolves Civic for actively encouraging and providing spots at shows at The Slade Rooms for local bands. In a time of venue and pub closure it’s very hard for bands new and old to get gigs, so kudos to the Civic for supporting the local music scene!

First up tonight is a recently formed Black Country rockers Silent Empire. Now no offence to the very young lads in this band I can’t say their style of music really appeals to me so I wasn’t exactly excited by their set. If you’re into other local bands like The Whiskey Syndicate and the revamped Liberty Lies these guys will be more your sort of thing, blues based heavy rock with gritty angst fuelled vocals. It has to be said though for a recently formed band they were a tight well practiced unit and I’m sure fans of this style of rock would have thoroughly enjoyed these guys. Not for me though, songs performed included ‘Last In Line’, ‘End Of The Story’ and ‘Empathy’.

Female fronted glam rock LA strip inspired rockers Witness are next to try and impress us. I love female singers so was really intrigued to hear these guys and it has to be said front woman Abi has the coolest hair of everyone we see on stage tonight! I have to say I was shocked to see just how young they all were given the style of music they perform; I bet none of them were even a twinkle in their daddy’s eye when the songs they chose to cover were released originally! Hell I was still in nappies so if these guys were around they are aging a hell of a lot better than my old haggard ass!

There in was my biggest problem with their set, too many covers, when you have a short set you don’t take advantage of it by been a covers band! I know these guys are really new so I presume they don’t have enough songs yet to plump out a solid support set. That said though I found the original songs really uninspiring so these guys have some serious song writing ahead of them if they wish to make an impact. I don’t wish to come across as really negative as they are all very young with many years and songs ahead of them and given the style of music they perform I’ll be behind them and watching them hopefully evolve into a kick ass band!

You can see the potential in them as they come to life on the covers and Abi in particular impresses with her voice, it’s just they go all shy and timid on their own songs! Also they didn’t seem battle ready and I think more rehearsal time will do them the world of good!

Daniel Trigger has been around a long time in the music biz and his last album Infinite Persistence was originally planned as his swan song but following an exceptional response from critics and fans alike it has inspired a new chapter in Trigger’s music life. Dan dropped a lot of the stadium rock influences showed on his previous releases and his latest opus sees him going in a much heavier and alternative music vein – think Alterbridge and Shinedown.

So if I told you Dan’s new drummer was wearing a Municipal Waste t-shirt you can imagine the full force rhythm section that lent itself to a drastically heavier sound than I’ve witnessed before from Dan. Although Dan is very keen to move with the musical times his vocal style accompanied by Sally on backing vocals always has a strong melodic nature evoking at times melodic metal bands from the eighties.

Trigger came across really well and got some really good responses from the audience and unlike their predecessors tonight were a well rehearsed live unit who brought their songs to life in great style on stage. I really enjoyed their set and it’s good to see a band improve so dramatically in a very short amount of time!

They opened with a very metallic new number ‘Rise From The Ashes’ which I was really impressed with and it’s a good sign that Dan is currently enjoying a positive run of song writing. Dan stuck to songs from his latest album, which was wise to keep the flow of the band’s set. Amongst the brief set was ‘Living Out Of Touch’, ‘Pendulum’, ‘Losing My Faith’, ‘Rain’. My highlight though was their most overtly melodic track ‘Alone Tonight’ complete with keyboard led AOR intro, which was nice!

It’s hard for me to approach a VEGA review from a critical and removed point of view such is my love for this band, it’s hard not to be an over excited fan boy! I’ve seen the band a few times now and have always enjoyed their live performances and come away buzzing! From my perspective one of the strengths of seeing VEGA live is their set list will feature nothing but favourite songs of mine. It’s a rare thing to discover a truly perfect album that you enjoy EVERY song on, VEGA have gone and given me two so whilst it’s a tough decision for the band to pick a set list, for me it’s always going to be exciting regardless!

The sound was bang on tonight and so it’s an amazing feel good feeling that sweeps over me as James Martin brings the set to life with the killer keyboard riff to set opener ‘Kiss Of Life’. It also assures me tonight’s soundman has the keyboard’s just right in the mix! The band storm the stage like their playing the Civic Hall, not the Slade Rooms, full of confidence and excitement. Nick deals with a mic malfunction with ease and although I’m sure he was inwardly panicking it didn’t affect the flow of the song as mic sharing ensued.

I’ve always thought Nick Workman was a great front man who knows how to entertain and work a crowd, but tonight he seems more confident and at ease with a constant smile never far from his face. His personable nature with the crowd is always crowd pleasing, trading banter and quip’s to get the local audience excited and involved, I particularly liked one of his rallying cries early on stating that it doesn’t matter that it’s a week night or how many are here, tonight’s going to be great cause it’s Wolverhampton! Of course he’s stating the obvious, but its people pleasing and smile inducing to hear it out loud! Nick was on form vocally too, when he supported FM there was a few slips but tonight he was faultless.

With the departure of Ben Christo of Night by Night on guitar they have drafted in the services of Daniel Johansson of fellow Next Gen melodic rockers Degreed who was fooking excellent to put it politely and a perfect fit for the band. I felt with Ben it made the band a tad too heavy and although I enjoy the crunch that guitarist Marcus Thurston brings to the bands live sound him and Ben together made it too heavy, but Daniel’s playing style and talents suit the VEGA sound perfectly. Tonight was probably the best CD to live arena re-production I’ve seen from the band!

It’s always pleasurable to witness the onstage camaraderie between the core VEGA band members Nick, Tom, James & Dan who all come across like their having a great time and Nick loves to interact and share a smile an quip with them all! Tonight was probably the best view I’ve had of Dan’s drumming and it was mesmerising to see him work away especially on some songs like the heart pounding beat on the chorus of ‘You Can’t Run’. The Twins are also gaining confidence when interacting with their audience Tom takes full advantage of his centre stage space to get people involved and even though James is at the back of the stage he always takes time to get the crowd worked up and their hands in the air!

The set was performed with great energy and excitement, full of delightful sing-along and wooooahhhh moments! These guys know how to write a killer melodic rock tune, the fast paced set had no, none, zero, zilch boring bit’s it was an all singing all dancing set of killer rock! The awesome set included ‘Not There For You’, ‘She Walks Alone’, ‘Into The Wild’, ‘Saviour’, ‘What The Hell’, ‘Hearts of Glass’, ‘Stay With Me’ and ‘White Knuckle Ride’.

I liked the keyboard lead intro and outro on ‘Headlights’ which gave James opportunity to show off his ivory tinkling skills. Another couple of cool moments are when both Tom and James individually do some cool upfront singing on a couple of songs!

For me the big treat was the debut live performance of my favourite song from What The Hell! ‘Cry’! Cue big smile, I’ve developed a real connection with the song since I’ve had the album! I always thought of it as been about finding it hard to let go and that’s how I relate to it and with its huge sing-along chorus which whilst been lyrically dark the sing along (or screech along in my case) actually makes the chorus really cathartic. I made the boo boo of reading what Nick had said the song lyric’s was about – an obsessive stalker – hahaha! I’m not sure what that says about me, but if anyone asks me I’m sticking to saying it’s about love dying hard! Haha! Considering it was the songs premier performance they knocked it out the park and if I’m honest there was a couple of moments where I was very close to getting very emotional! Thankfully I managed to suck it up!

They close with the crowd pleasing and joyous ‘Hands In The Air’ with all the band getting the audience involved and Nick even coming into the middle of us for the final chorus sing along! As they leave the stage Nick thanks the crowd and with a wry smile states ‘this is what it’s all about’! I Couldn’t have said it better myself as I leave the venue buzzing feeling great, you just can’t beat that feeling after seeing a great live show!

I love VEGA, they are awesome, and they are the most awesome band in the world! Killer songs, killer musicianship, killer showmanship what more could you ask for! If you’ve haven’t seen VEGA yet you really are missing out, they are the whole package a truly exciting and enjoyable live act!

You can’t beat that feeling of thinking you’ve just seen the greatest live show ever, but I know it’s not, because I’m going to see VEGA again and that’s going to be the greatest show EVER!

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