With support from The Treatment, Rocky Kramer and THEIA at The Robin 2 Bilston 9th November 2019.
We arrive at The Robin 2 in Bilston narrowly missing doors after finding out earlier that day, that times had been shifted back by 30mins. Outside the venue, there is little evidence of tonight’s event with only a handful of people smoking, huddled under the gazebo avoiding the relentless rain.
We collect our passes just in time to catch the start of Theia, a young hungry hard rock three piece from Burton, who kick open the night to a now steadily filling venue. They get things moving right from the off with the punchy ‘Throw Me A Bone’, a politically tinged rock and roll anthem that provides an insight into the mentality of the trio. Flaunting a combination of solid rock and roll grooves, soaring catchy choruses and charged lyrics, these guys play and write with a maturity beyond their years and had themselves a small but loyal following present in the crowd tonight, with Theia shirts visibly dotted throughout.
Frontman/guitarist, Kyle Lamley, holds the stage with a confident charisma, engaging and encouraging the audience throughout the set by continually addressing and involving them in the performance, which they responded well too. It’s worth noting the tightness of the rhythm section here, in part due to the fact that the current drummer has only been with them for four short months. Though if it hadn’t been mentioned during one of the many crowd interactions between songs, nobody in the room would have been any the wiser.
By their third track, ‘Just Go’, from the 2017 album ‘Back In Line’ the room had nearly filled up to capacity and by the next song, ‘Paper the House’, a bouncy and driven offering detailing the live gig experience, the band had firmly “got you by the balls”.
The set closes on ‘Whoop De F**king Do’ a lively, energetic and angsty, rock and roll anthem of anti-celebrity culture and anti-materialism, with an undeniably catchy chorus that the crowd are all to eager to join in with. All round, a solid offering from the young Burtonians, signalling themselves as a band to watch and the ideal choice to open up this night of hard rock.
The second act of the night was the American based Norwegian musician/composer/actor, Rocky Kramer and his band, the aptly named Rocky Kramer band, consisting of Matt Grossman on keys, Michael Dwyer on bass and Alejandro Mercado on drums.
Featuring an eclectic mix of 80’s tinged classic hard rock combined with symphonic arrangements, it was very hard to pin down the actual sound of this band. In between the hard-hitting rock sections, there were slow ballads and prog influenced instrumental sections that seemed slightly out of place in tonight’s hard rock driven soundscape.
Playing through tracks such as ‘Alcohol’ and ‘I Wanna Know’ Kramer did his best to connect with an audience whose interest was slowly waning. Unfortunately, the Norwegian born showman’s crowd interaction was as cheesy and off the mark as his set, with lines such as “this next song is for those with an attitude” falling flat on the audience. The set picked up slightly during the middle as the band leaned into a brief section of heavy metal, complete with thundering double kick, but this was short-lived and soon settled back down after.
Kramer struggled to hit the fine line between frontman and guitarist, compromising both in the process, with his falsetto vocals regularly offset by indulgent guitar lead work. The highlight of the set was the recently released ‘Rock Star’ which has had some airplay on the BBC. In another setting the band might have gone down better but after the intense well-crafted momentum created by the opening act, Kramer fell flat and his neoclassical prog tinged hard rock felt out of place.
Next up were the penultimate band of the night, Cambridgeshire’s hard rockers, The Treatment and this band are certainly no strangers to supporting major rock acts, having previously toured with the likes of Alice Cooper, Slash, W.A.S.P, Steel Panther and Thin Lizzy during their career.
The buzz for this band could be felt long before they took to the stage, with whispers and murmurs rippling throughout the bar and the outside smoking area in anticipation. As the ominous and atmospheric intro track played out from an empty stage, the crowd had already started wailing and cheering for the band. When they finally detonate out, they were met with the reaction you’d expect for an established touring headliner, which these guys will easily be given a few more years to grow their fan base. The band blend influences of AC/DC, Thin Lizzy and Tesla to create their own distinct brand of high-octane classic rock, repackaged for the modern era. All of the elements of a true hard rock show were present and on display here, from intense driven riffs and huge choruses to powerful vocals, all performed with an undoubtable dynamism and showmanship. This is exactly what a rock band should sound and look like.
Guitarists Tegore and Tao Grey energetically bound around the stage laying down ever tastier licks and riffs, feeding off of each other and the crowd while bassist Rick ‘Swoggle’ Newman provided the meat of the sound, locking into drummer Dhani Mansworth’s thundering beats. Recent new addition, vocalist Tom Rampton, both sounds and looks like he’s been part of this band from the start and has already integrated and established himself, with his Bon Scott tinged vocals perfectly complimenting the auditory attack of the guitar driven sound.
Powering through material from 2019’s ‘Power Crazy’ interlaced with classic offerings from their back catalogue, the band firmly held the attention of the audience throughout the duration of the set and provided the perfect warmup for the main act of the night.
Now it was time for the band everybody was clearly here to see, the almighty Buckcherry, now two decades on in their career (though only vocalist Josh Todd remains from the original line-up.)
The band exploded onto the stage with a heavily cherried up cover of the 1990 Nine Inch Nails classic, ‘Head Like A Hole’ taken from their latest album, ‘Warpaint’, which went down a storm with the eager crowd and kicked things off properly. Whilst it’s relatively uncommon for a band of this magnitude to open with a cover, they pulled it off flawlessly as if were their own and their fresh funked up spin gave it that distinctive Buckcherry sound. With the whole room now firmly in the palms of their hands, the band proceeded to blitz through a career spanning set comprised of brand-new tracks, inter-weaved with nostalgic classics and masterfully executed covers.
Legendary frontman, Josh Todd’s unbounded and seemingly limitless energy was completely infectious and fueled the crowd into a frenzy that lasted throughout. Guitarists Stevie D and Kevin Roentgen owned their respective sides of the stage matching equal parts showmanship with musicianship, interacting with the audience and each other while bassist Kelly LeMieux and drummer Francis Ruiz locked down a solid slab of funky groove that had the whole place moving. The band were all on top form tonight and as air-tight as you would come to expect from a band of their calibre.
By the time they reached their classic debut single – ‘Lit Up’, the energy in the room had already reached fever pitch, and everyone was now transported straight back to 1999, joining Josh in reliving his first night on the show. With everyone unquestionably along for the ride they knocked through the likes of ‘Somebody F**ked With Me’ and ‘Bent’. At this point in the set, Todd asked the audience for requests and we are treated to an impromptu cover of the Kenny Loggins 1984 classic, ‘Footloose’ which once again, whipped the crowd into a frenzy and got to whole of the venue moving front to back.
The set climaxed with the infamous ‘Crazy Bitch’ from hit album ’15’ and had the whole of The Robin 2 screaming along to every single word, with each ‘f**k’ shouted louder than the last one by the ravenous audience. This was clearly the song that everyone had been waiting for and it definitely showed. The show could very easily have ended there, but as an added bonus we are given an encore, another cover in the form of the 2013 Icona Pop hit, ‘I Love It (I Don’t Care)’ aptly altered to ‘say f**k it’. After a strong finish, the band said their thanks and goodbyes before guitarist Stevie D gave us one last spectacle by launching himself into the audience and crowd surfing on a sea of screaming fans! As the night drew to a close, we funneled our way out of The Robin 2, back into rainy Bilston and gained back the 20 years we managed to briefly shake off inside, this certainly isn’t California but for the duration of their set, it certainly felt like it.
To see more photographs from the night, be sure to check out music224 over on Flickr.
Review by Jamie Barker with Photography by Klare Sherwood