Band Slam

M.A.D.I.S.O.N/ The Clocktower/ Arcade Parade/ The Rooz

Loose Lips/  Envy Of The State/ The Making

and Stay Awake.

The Place Oakengates 19th July 2013.

It was early June when the call went out to local bands that two support spots were up for grabs, supporting the mighty McFly at T Live at the Telford Arena on 7th September. Sadly, it seems to be a well kept secret that Telford has an exceptionally healthy music scene, but I’m very much hoping that an opportunity like this will change all that as T Live is looking to be quite an event!

Following a healthy response from bands, the final selection of eight was made and with the line up for the band slam confirmed, the competition and competitors were ready to begin.

The organisation of the night allowed for each band to play a twenty minute set, not very long you might think but in reality it was actually just right. With the audience being the majority vote holders for the competition, they had a long evening ahead and twenty minutes is certainly long enough for a band to make their mark.

Our opening band tonight was M.A.D.I.S.O.N and they are certainly no strangers to the local live music scene. This five piece rock band have been together for several years and during that time they have evolved with confidence and tonight’s performance could not have gone better for them and by the time they left the stage, the bar had truly been raised up high for those about to follow.

M.A.D.I.S.O.N

Our second band of the evening were The Clocktower and again, this is a band who have evolved with confidence. Having a strong indie rock presence in their music and appearance plus plenty of swaggers to deliver it, the audience were quickly drawn into the energy of the set and I suspect there were a few new Clocktower fans happily ticking by the end of this evening.

The Clocktower

With only ten minutes change over time between bands, Arcade Parade’s time to shine was quickly upon them. I’ve seen this band on several occasions and on each and every occasion they have always impressed me with their level of ability regardless of their young ages. Tonight’s performance was no different in that regard and the rousing applause and cheers they received as the last note was played, was most definitely fair praise that they deserved.

Arcade Parade

The fourth band taking part in this evenings competition were The Rooz and the first new musical experience of the evening for me – and my oh my, what a rock ‘n’ roll experience that was to be! These guys simply burst into action with lead singer Louis Coupe being a tremendous front man and a pretty nifty multi-tasking musician aswell! Tremendous performance from these guys and what a way to close the half way mark for this evening!

The Rooz

Performance number five took us forward with a change in style and musical direction and all courtesy of the local duo, Loose Lips. With the stage looking larger than ever, the spotlight was literally on Kieran Hayes and Lewis Bates whose striking acoustic tones and melodies gave rise to a captivating set. Through an abundance of heartfelt lyrics along with their sincere conversation, tonight’s audience were given sight into how important music is to this duo and the chance to see a great performance to mark it.

Loose Lips

Variety was certainly proving key to good entertainment tonight and in a sharp contrast to their predecessors, Envy Of The State took full possession of just about every inch of stage with their raging high energy set. From their very first note, it was clear that their assigned twenty minutes were going to be used for maximum impact and Envy Of The State were relentless in their objective to make every second count. Full credit has to be given to this band for their intensity and tireless performance tonight as it was by far one to certainly be proud of!

Envy Of The State

Our penultimate band for this evening was The Making, and these guys have successfully been carving themselves a statuesque niche in the indie rock scene since 2009. By no means outrageous in their presentation, but easily capturing outstanding in their performance, the audience looked and sounded more than a little appreciative at everything this band had to give. Regardless of the outcome from tonight’s competition, I have a feeling that The Making are set to go far in the music industry, so if you’ve not had the chance to see them perform live, just make sure to catch them locally while you can.

The Making

This evening has literally packed in some mighty fine entertainment and what a wealth of talented musician’s it has shown us. But the story ain’t over yet and final band to take to the stage tonight were the up and coming young band, Stay Awake. This band were a fabulous choice to end the night with as their keen blend of indie style pop mixed with the witty comment from young Jedi front man, Harry Davies, was happily infectious and once again, a band whose acquaintance it was an absolute pleasure to make.

Stay Awake

Tonight’s event cannot pass by without comment upon the venue itself, in particular its spectacular sound, visuals and organisation. ‘The Place’ in Oakengates Telford, has easily provided to all of us present, bands and audience alike, it’s ability to put on a great night of live music and I genuinely hope that events such as this will become a regular feature in the future!

It is at this point in my review that I feel it is appropriate to skip forward by a few days and with much pleasure, confirm that both M.A.D.I.S.O.N and The Making were announced as having secured, through audience and judge voting, the two slots supporting McFly at T Live in Telford Town Park on 7th September. Tickets for this event can be purchased through Telford & Wrekin’s website, the Box Office on 01952 382382 or by personal visit to Oakengates Theatre @ The Place or Telford Ice Rink.

Finally, BIG congratulations must go out to all the bands who were involved in this great night, you really did make this an event to remember!

Words and Photography by Sue Wardle

Wintersun

Wintersun Tour 2013

With Support From Savage Messiah and Bloodshot Dawn.

Rescue Rooms Nottingham 18th July 2013.

As the Great British summer scorches on, so does the great music scene in Nottingham. I start with a bit of a moan, which is unusual for me, but feel it must be said!

If you advertise a gig to start at 7pm, surely the acts should start as scheduled so people have time to get home from work and travel to the gig and not start 15 minutes before? This was the case tonight meaning people missed the start or most of the first support act, Savage Messiah!!!

Fortunately, I got there just in time, coming in mid way through the first of 4 tracks. Both Bloodshot Dawn and Savage Messiah have supported Wintersun throughout this current tour of the UK, which must be a great feeling, especially when you consider how many bands there are out there fighting for said slots. Both are great bands, who have played some great shows over the years, and who compliment Wintersun’s style perfectly, so its easy to see why they got the nod.

I love Savage Messiah, their energy on stage compliments the energy of their music perfectly. People who managed to see them perform tonight went away loving them too, so job done. I can see lead vocalist, Silver has been working on being a more visual front man, as I was loving photographing him tonight, so much so, I nearly forgot about poor Joff, gurning away to my left. Some familiar faces turned up for tonight’s gig, Rod Boston, the legendary metal head and Bull-Riff Stampede’s bass player to name but one.

Dave Silver - Savage Messiah

I didn’t get to interview the entire band, but I did talk to Joff, the guitarist, whilst catching some fresh air outside after their set. We spoke about the tour and I asked how they got their equipment and themselves to shows. His answer was “we hire a van, that travels the speed of snails, but it gets us from A to B before we have to retire! haha! I also asked how the recording of the new album was coming along, which Joff got most excited about, saying “We can’t wait to unleash this album onto the world” errr…..its going to be a long wait, but wait I shall!!!

Stefano Selvatico - Savage Messiah

Set list tonight included: 1. Insurrection Rising  2. Scavengers Of Mercy  3. The Accuser  4. Plaque Of Conscience  5. Iconocaust  6. The Fateful Dark

Next up were another band I’ve been fortunate enough to encounter on more than one occasion, Bloodshot Dawn. Hailing from the Great Waterfront City of Portsmouth, they consist of Josh McMorran – Vocals / Lead Guitar, Benjamin Ellis – Lead Guitar / Backing Vocals, Doug Anderson – Drums / Vocals and Anthony Ridout – Bass. With their highly fueled riffs, they rocked Rescue Rooms tonight. These are another band that give the energizer bunny a run for his money! Even with the venue being hot, it didn’t stop them from doing what they do best, belting out ear bleeding vocals (in a good way) and heavy f**king metal!

Benjamin Ellis - Bloodshot Dawn

A fantastic moment, half way through the set, was when Josh addressed the crowd “Thanks for coming, but this is a metal show and I’m yet to see a circle pit! So instead I want you all to part down the middle for a wall of death” The crowd kindly acted on his request and did as he asked and waited for the signal. ONE, TWO………THREE, GO! On which the two opposing sides rushed towards each other, colliding to form a sea of bodies and continued to mosh through the entire track, AWESOME!

Josh McMorran - Bloodshot Dawn

After their set, I asked Josh how they managed to get onto the tour and if they had enjoyed it so far, to which his reply was “we sent our material over to the promoters, who liked our music and signed us up. We have loved every show we’ve played so far and are looking forward to the rest of the tour. We’d love it for the weather to be cooler, but that won’t stop us from rockin out, even with a stream of sweat pouring off us!”

Set list tonight was: 1.Beckoning Oblivion  2.Vision  3.Illusion Aesthetic  4.The Quantum Apocalypse  5.Godless

Wintersun, the headliners have travelled an extremely long way to be here tonight. They are from Finland and consist of Jari Mäenpää (Vocals, Guitar), Teemu Mäntysaari (Guitar) Jukka Koskinen (Bass) and Kai Hahto (Drums).

Formed by Jari, initially as a side project, away from Ensiferum, in 2003. The bands sound is described as majestic, spacey and melodic. After listening to their first album, self titled, released in 2004, I honestly expected to see a keyboardist present tonight, but it seems the band never found one, so that gets layered in via the computer. After eight 8 years, Wintersun finally released their second, long awaited album ‘Time 1’, in 2012, which was started in 2006! It was always meant to be two albums joined together, including ‘Time 2’, but that will be released next year.

Jukka Koskinen - Wintersun

Considering the distance they have traveled may help to explain why the stage was completely cleared of amps, leaving only the drums. Instead they used a single computer to control every instrument used by the band. Sound check was interesting too, know as a silent sound check, which I’ve never seen before! With the wonders of modern technology today, it certainly helps to reduce freight costs for bands traveling the world! However, trying to take pictures of the band was a nightmare, whats with these big furry microphones…..with a band so up on technology, surely its time to throw the 1970’s mics away?

Jari Maenpaa - Wintersun

After the extremely long intro, When time fades away (not fast enough) the band rushed out onto the stage, with Jari carrying his mobile phone, recording the crowds reaction as they did. As with the previous two bands, these guys didn’t hang about when it came to the face pulling, jeering up the crowd and posing for the cameras. Amazingly they didn’t break into a sweat though, it must be because they’re from Finland……super cool!

Tonight’s crowd were like a fifth member of the band, as they sang their way through the entire set, which consisted of a 50/50 split between the new album, which is only 5 tracks and the first album:

Set list included: 1.Sons of Winter and Stars  2.Land of Snow and Sorrow  3.Battle Against Time  4.Sleeping Stars  5.Beautiful Death  6.Darkness and Frost  7.Time  8.Death and the Healing  9.Winter Madness  10.Beyond the Dark Sun  11.Starchild

Words and photography by Jay Hawkins (JJ Photography UK)

Heaven’s Basement

With Support From Skarlett Riot and Buffalo Summer.

The Cavern Exeter 16th July 2013.

Sometimes… Just sometimes… All the planets in the Rock ‘n’ Roll firmament align in such a way that a holy trinity comes into being. Imagine. Three bands, all with fantastic debut albums doing great business, all with cross-generational appeal, all winning new fans on the festival circuit, all on top form. Such an alignment occurred recently, when Heaven’s Basement were joined on tour by Skarlett Riot and Buffalo Summer. The tour has been a resounding success, with many of the shows selling out. The subterranean Exeter Cavern was no different, selling out on pre-sale!

The doors hadn’t been open long, but there is a very sizable (and rapidly expanding) crowd waiting for Scunthorpe’s Skarlett Riot when they take to the stage. They hit the eager crowd with a barrage of well-crafted, melodic rock songs, mostly taken from the current album ‘Tear Me Down’.  Skarlett wastes no time, getting up-close-and-personal with the front row, whilst Danny lunges, arches and swings his guitar around. Tom is on the left, pounding out the groove, bass slung low, either prowling the stage, or foot up on his monitor, head down. At the back, holding it all together, is Luke, the baby of the band. Skarlett Riot perform with the confidence of a band that not only know each other very well, but also believe in their music. They’ve got confidence and self-belief, but never does it spill over into cockiness or arrogance. They know they’ve got a great set of songs for you, and they know how to play ‘em! The younger faction of the crowd, in particular, were lapping it up. A fantastic start to the evening.

Chloe Drinkwater - Skarlett Riot

A quick change-over of kit on stage, and it was time for a bit of a change in style and direction. From the straight-ahead rock of Skarlett Riot, to the blues-infused groove of Buffalo Summer.

The Welsh quartet set out their stall early with album opener, ‘She’s All Natural’, which hits you from the off with so much groove it’s corrugated! ‘A Horse Called Freedom’ followed in a similar vein. The eager crowd was already enthralled. Hair and fists fill the air, while on stage Andrew Hunt dressed in flares and floral print shirt, struck the best Plant-esque poses since the great man himself!

Andrew Hunt - Buffalo Summer

Elsewhere on the stage, Jonny Williams was every bit the Rock God guitarist. Face obscured by tousled hair, Les Paul held almost upright, back arched whilst slaying with a riff, or throwing out a solo with more feel than a blind octopus! To the left was bassist, Darren King. He was mesmerising to watch. Cropped hair and face fuzz so luxurious, it makes Brian Blessed’s effort look like that of a prepubescent schoolboy.As soon as he hit his groove, he was stomping on the spot, face to the roof. When he’s completely lost in the rhythm, the head came down, and shook like a dog with a rag (with a few ‘chord faces’ thrown in, for good measure!). At the back, providing the heartbeat was ‘quiet man’ Gareth Hunt and you know what they say – you’ve got to watch out for the quiet ones. Behind the kit was a mess of sticks, arms and hair, all flailing around with equal ferocity.Most of the (eponymous) album got an airing tonight, and why not. In the main support slot, you’re still winning new fans. Why not hit them with the best stuff they can buy? From the people I spoke to, there were more Buf-fellows (see what I did there?) leaving the venue, than entered it.

Darren King - Buffalo Summer

The club was a sweatbox. Not just from the oppressive heat of the day, but from the shoulder-to-shoulder capacity crowd, crammed into the Cavern, unable to resist the urge to shake their heads, wave their arms, jump around and join in with the fantastic performances they’d witnessed so far… And we still had the main attraction to go!

Heaven’s Basement kicked Exeter in the face from the off, commanding every inch of the stage and hitting us with the high-tempo, and highly contagious opener ‘Welcome Home’. This was followed by ‘Can’t Let Go’, with it’s “Whoah-a-whoah’s” and a chorus that’s catchier than chicken pox! The crowd were definitely there for the band, but if there were any doubters, they were won over by the time current single “Fire Fire” rang out. Aaron Buchanan, every bit the archetypal frontman with the presence, the swagger, and the skills to back it up, made the first of two excursions into the crowd. I say ‘into the crowd’, but to be precise, he was over the crowd, floating on a sea of hands to the back of the venue, and back to the stage.

Aaron Buchanan - Heaven's Basement

This was no one-man-show though. Sharing the front of the stage was guitarist Sid Glover. He worked the front row with every trick in the “How To Be A Rockstar” handbook! From holding his guitar aloft, through pointing it out at the crowd, to the whole gamut of guitar-playing faces. Actually, the faces deserve a spacial mention as I have not seen anyone pout and lick their lips this much since Steel Panther’s Lexxi Foxx!

Sid Glover - Heaven's Basement

We were treated to a whole raft of songs from the ‘Filthy Empire’ album, including ‘Heartbreaking Son Of A Bitch’ and ‘I Am Electric’, before an older song came out. ‘Paranoia’ from the ‘Unbreakable’ EP made a welcome appearance. It wouldn’t have been a ‘proper’ rock gig without the obligatory ballad. It came as a welcome relief from all the balls-out, high octane rock ‘n’ roll so far. The crowd were far from flagging, but the inclusion of ‘The Price We Pay’ served several purposes as it allowed the audience (and the band!) a chance to catch their collective breathes and added another layer to the band’s repertoire. They performed it exquisitely, too. As if to ensure everyone was refreshed and ready for the final push, Buchanan came to the front of the stage brandishing four bottles with pierced lids and doused all within reach with icy water. At least I think it was a gesture of refreshment. There was a group of attractive young ladies near the front in vest tops who appeared to receive slightly more of the ‘refreshment’…. or maybe that’s just how I remember it! Anyway… after a brief teaser of the intro from ‘Billie Jean’ we were back into full on rock mode, with ‘Jump Back’ and another oldie  ‘Reign On My Parade’, during which, Buchanan made another journey deep into the crowd (almost getting toppled!) and back, and that was that. The hot, sweaty, wet, jubilant crowd weren’t satisfied quite yet, and Aaron, Sid, Rob and Chris came back and duly obliged with a superb rendition of the album closing track, ‘Executioner’s Day’. And that really was that.

Heaven's Basement

A fantastic finale to a heavenly evening in a basement club!

Words and Photography by Rob Nankivell (Shoot Plymouth)