Hils Ovation

The Slade Rooms Wolverhampton 14th February 2015.

It’s Valentine’s Day folks, just in case you didn’t know – and tonight we have five fantastic bands giving us the ideal opportunity to show some love for the live music scene here in the Midlands. Our line up for this evening will see Fires That Divide, Interrobang, Hope For Return, Novacrow and our headliners of the night, Mallen, take to the stage here at The Slade Rooms – so plenty of good music to look forward to!

First band for tonight were the local rockers Fires That Divide and personally for me, there is nothing I love more than seeing a band that is fresh in enthusiasm and positive in its approach – so straight up, these guys certainly get the thumbs up from me. Kirk Shuttleworth on lead vocals and guitar, makes for an impressive front man with a voice that cuts the rock ’n’ roll edge easily and with the most able of accompaniment from Steven Norton on guitar, Marc Harris on drums and Steve Knight on bass, Fires That Divide are the kind of band that you need to put on your radar. The band have just finished recording their debut EP, which I believe will see light of day next month, so roll on March as that is definitely a new release I am looking forward to.

Steven Norton - Fires That Divide

It was a sad day indeed when Diamond Lil called it a day but I secretly hoped that it wouldn’t be too long before Ellis Wilde picked up the mic again and set about launching a new era and I’m exceptionally chuffed to say that Interrobang are well and truly launched! Describing themselves as sitting within the grunge and alternative rock vein doesn’t quite cover it in my book, as the music that Interrobang have created for themselves delivers a far greater appeal especially when you take into account the melodic snazzy skills of guitar maestro, Sam Rutter. Great performance from Interrobang tonight and I’m looking forward to catching many more!

Ellis Wilde - Interrobang

Our third band up on stage tonight were West Midland locals, Hope For Return. Three is definitely the magic number here as this band fit together tightly and deliver one heck of a punchy edge within their crafted alternative rock. Tonight’s performance from the band went down a storm and with several other gigs already booked in the diary for the forthcoming months, there are a fair few opportunities to get down to a local venue and catch up with them. There is also a new single heading our way from Hope For Return which we don’t have too long to wait for, as ‘Get Your Gun’ is set for release on 2nd March. Check these guys out over on their Facebook page or on their new website as there’s lots of good things about to happen!

Si - Hope For Return

Prior to tonight’s gig, I’d made a point of checking out Novacrow’s Facebook page to get a flavour for the band and in doing that, I’d kinda got the feeling that Novacrow were going to be the kind of band that simply evoke good tunes and good times in a live setting. I’m very pleased to say that not only did they meet that expectation but they also surpassed it as boy, this band are an absolute pleasure to watch. Lead songstress, Kitty Staunton gave a firecracker of a performance and the warmth of her personality and huge smile were clearly appreciated by tonight’s audience. I also have to pay homage to the other members of Novacrow, as Jonyx, Feberico and Torben have equal amounts of stage presence aswell, making Novacrow one fantastic fit!

Kitty Staunton - Novacrow

Good words have frequently been said about our headlining band from many a reliable source and with so much positivity building up within their growing fan base, Mallen had become a band that I had been looking forward to seeing for some time. With their impressive band line up including the amazing Kelly Mallen on vocals, Dann Pritchard on guitar, Dean Ellis on bass and Thomas Crowfoot on drums, this up and coming band have oodles of promise and when you add in the fact that they released their debut EP ‘Ignition’ yesterday, tonight was certainly a good time to make their acquaintance.

Dann Pritchard - Mallen

With the release of ‘Ignition’ clearly being a milestone of pride for the band, tonight’s set opened with the superb track ’Welcome To The Edge’ which in my opinion, is a song that could easily earn itself the prime position of band anthem as it is the perfect showcase for the combined power of Mallen. Having said that tho, these guys and gal know how to write and perform great songs that are born to leave you wanting more and tonight’s set did just that for me and many others. It was also a pleasure to see Sister Shotgun’s vocalist, Chloe Ozwell take to the stage to perform a stunning duet with Kelly Mallen and if you weren’t there to see it, then you really did miss something special as these gals absolutely rocked!

Kelly Mallen - Mallen

The night could have only ended one way for me and that was with the purchase of Mallen’s EP and it hasn’t been out of the CD player since the plastic wrapper came off – great CD, great song and a band well worth the wait to see.

It was also fab to see such a decent size audience here tonight at The Slade Rooms as this is exactly the right kind of exposure that tonight’s bands deserve and proving that their was no shortage of love for live music in the air tonight. Big shout going out to Hils Ovation who had been struck down with the dreaded lurgy this week and whose presence was muchly missed tonight. Get well soon Hils.

Words and Photography by Sue Wardle.