The O2 Academy2 Birmingham 30th January 2016.
You know you’re in for a good gig when the line up warrants an upgrade to a larger hall, so I’m full of anticipation for what our five band listed for tonight, are all about to deliver.
There are several things that I greatly admire about a Hils Ovation night but the two main aspects for me, are that they give the audience the opportunity to discover new music, aswell as providing up and coming bands with the chance to perform at venues frequently played by bands who are a significant influence in the current music scene.
And with four bands on tonight’s listing who for me, tick the category of new discoveries, Without Grace were the first of those four to take to the stage tonight. Describing themselves as heavy rock, this four piece from Birmingham comprise of Dan Jones (Vocals), Chris Jones (Guitar), Jamz West (Bass) and TJ Weston (Drums). Initial impressions were that stage nerves held these guys back but by the end of their second song, those nerves had vanished and Without Grace stepped up to the plate and gave us a set they should be proud of. The only disappointment for me had absolutely nothing to do with the bands ability but was down to the overly zealous smoke machine that masked TJ Weston from clear sight for most of the set and to do that to a drummer of TJ’s calibre, is damn near bordering upon a criminal offence!
Our second band for tonight were the Rugby based band Wounded Cross and looking back at their Facebook page, it’s great to see how the launch of their EP ‘Bonecrusher’ and the recent addition of Rob Barnett on guitar is having such a positive influence on them – as these guys were clearly very happy to be up on stage tonight. Tonight’s set from the band gave us the chance to hear a good selection of their songs but I have to admit to being more that just a bit curious as to where their current evolution will take them, as old school Doom metal introduced to the new influence of a folk singer/songwriter is a pretty unique prospect and one that I am very much looking forward to hearing!
With drummer Michael Brush undertaking drumming duties elsewhere on tour, Celestial Wish’s set was tonight performed as a three piece and comprised of Saneeta Ram – Frontwoman, Daniel Carpenter – Lead Guitar/ Orchestral Composer and Fraser Banks – Bass. In my opinion, symphonic metal always seems to command a very grand and majestic presence and the beautiful voice of Saneeta Ram captured those elements of splendour perfectly and was an absolute pleasure to the ears. Celestial Wish are definitely a band that deserve to be seen and heard, so do give their Facebook page a like and keep your eyes open for future dates – I think you will be quite impressed!
Our fourth and final support band of the night were Engraved Disillusion and according to the info on their Facebook page, these guys hail from the Taunton area of Somerset. My geography isn’t what it should be but it’s good enough to know that these guys had come a fair old distance to play for us tonight – so much respect going out to them for that. The bands set tonight was an excellent excursion into the depths of metal whilst travelling quite a melodic route and most ably aided by the powerful vocals of lead singer Matthew Mead. It was great to see the audience’s response to the band and I very much suspect that Engraved Disillusion made their journey back home with a few new Birmingham ‘likes’ added to their Facebook page!
Over the years, it’s been a great privilege to watch the progress of Awake By Design and to see them grow into an entity of precision built metal that is well and truly standing the test of time. The current line up of the band comprises of Dave Favill – Bass Guitar, Luke Hatton – Lead/Rhythm and Acoustic Guitars, Janson Sissons – Keyboards/Piano, Chris Wilkinson – Drums and Adrian Powell on vocals.
Tonight’s set contained several tracks from last year’s album release ‘Carve The Sun’ including the spectacular track and firm favourite of mine, ‘Falling On Me’, which never fails to give Adrian Powell the chance to deliver some rather outstanding vocals. I really enjoyed Awake By Design’s set tonight and with new songs in the writing aswell, I very much hope that this means we will be seeing and hearing a lot more from the band this year!
Tonight’s trip to the O2 Academy2 was a good night all round and one that I suspect the bands enjoyed equally as much as the audience did.
Review and Photography by Sue Wardle.