Hils Ovation

The O2 Academy3 Birmingham 31st January 2015.

Tonight heralds the start of my gigging year and what a slam dunk way to spend it than by heading on over to Hils Ovations first gig for 2015. It’s one hell of a line up tonight with Guts For Glory, Torous, Second City Fire, Signs Of Fire and our headliners for tonight, The Mighty Wraith. I kinda get the feeling that all five bands will be hell bent on raising the roof at The O2 Academy3 in Birmingham, so no doubt about it – this is one gig I most definitely did not want to miss!

With a decent size crowd already through the 7pm door, Guts For Glory were fast to take the opportunity to impress – and impress they sure did with a set list and a performance that deserved to be applauded on so many levels. This band play rock ‘n’ roll that stands on the most solid of ground and harvests a rich and intense sound which lavishes itself with the most creative of guitar licks – and while I’m talking about guitars, I have to give praise for the performance of James Gould, as he is one seriously talented guy! You could have knocked me down with a feather when I found out that Guts For Glory have only been together as a band for just over six months as they present like a band that’s been together a lot longer than that! So there you have it folks, one up and coming band who you can expect to see a lot more of in the forthcoming months!

James Gould - Guts For Glory

I first saw Torous last year when they played at The Slade Rooms in Wolverhampton and on that occasion, I made a note to myself that I really needed to see this band again as there was something about Torous that captured my attention and held on tight. From the get go tonight, their performance was one that left no note unturned and with a splash of the Celtic style that sat firmly in a heavier melodic rock vein, Torous can only be described as having a distinctive and very large sound. Visually, Marc Malone is a bit of a Jekyll and Hyde character on stage as whilst playing, his facial expressions show him all consumed by the emotive content of the songs yet whilst talking to the audience, there is no holding back that good natured smile of his. The band have recently released a new single which is titled ‘Sovereign Son’ and is well worthy of a good checking out as it’s an absolute aural delight!

Marc Malone and GMT - Torous

We’re being well and truly spoilt by tonight’s line up of mighty fine bands and with none other than Second City Fire next up on stage, the musical greatness just keeps on coming. Once again, it is an absolute pleasure to see such a promising up and coming band who are simply going from strength to strength and reflecting back on their performance tonight, there is a definite evolution within their style. 100% rock is without doubt, the substantive heart of their music but tonight I also heard an electric dreamscape of reverb and harmonies that I felt elevated Second City Fire to an entirely different level. I believe there to be a new EP on it’s way from the band, so here’s hoping it arrives soon, as that is gonna be a must have purchase!

Paul Berry - Second City Fire

Signs Of Fire were our penultimate band of the night and not having seen this band before, I will admit to wondering how they would follow on in the big footsteps of those bands that had already played tonight? Well, here’s the thing folks, not only did Signs Of Fire fill those footsteps, they simply rocked the hell out of the stage at the O2 Academy3! Lead singer Tommy Smith has an energy on stage and a sheer vibrancy to his voice that makes you stop dead in your tracks and when you add to that an abundance of spectacular guitar licks and melodies, along with a deeply rich cornucopia of drum and bass, you have a band whose set I just didn’t want to see finish. At the end of last year, Signs Of Fire released an EP entitled ‘Bottom Of The Well’ and this little wee beastie is music for the soul – do check it out and make sure you hit play on ‘The Preacher Reigns’ as this song is totally in a league of it’s own!!

Matt Ball and Tommy Smith - Signs Of Fire

There is much to be said about a band that when faced with times of great difficulty and changes to it’s line up, takes those trials and tribulations head on and comes back bigger and stronger and The Mighty Wraith are one such very band. In their expectation of a full and complete line up tonight, the unexplained absence of their bass player presented them with yet another challenge to overcome, but we are talking about The Mighty Wraith here, so with that same fearless and take no prisoners approach clenched firmly in a gloved fist, the band were clearly not going to let that grind them down in anyway, shape or form.

Aaron Potter - The Mighty Wraith

Front man Matt Gore is a character that you don’t easily forget or would even want to, as personality, performance and a huge amount of pizzazz doesn’t even come close in trying to describe the metal phenomena that his on stage persona has become across the West Midlands and tonight, I felt that despite this latest set back, the band were in absolute first class axe wielding form.

Matt Gore - The Mighty Wraith

Such a great night tonight and such a great audience aswell at the O2 Academy3 – Birmingham you did all five bands and Hils Ovation proud!

Words and Photography by Sue Wardle.