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Hils Ovation

O2 Academy3 Birmingham 28th January 2017.

Oktopus with support from Netherhall, Brocken Spectre and Sonata Fall. It seems like January 2017 has been an exceptionally long month, so to say I’m just a little bit happy to be heading off to the first Hils Ovation gig of the year, is most definitely an understatement!

And what a little gem tonight’s gig looks set to be as it’s line up offers an intriguing mix of bands both known and previously unknown to me and that definitely warrants a big thumbs up in my book.

Getting tonight underway were Sonata Fall and it quickly became apparent that tonight’s set was to hold great meaning, with this being Simon Tranter’s last gig with the band. Ramped with a profusion of intense guitar licks combined with the rich vocals of Justin Reeves, tonight’s set hit gold for the band and albeit an emotive end to this particular chapter in their career, it delivered one hell of a great promise for the next one!

Simon Tranter - Sonata Fall

Our next set of the night was from the Hereford based band Brocken Spectre and hand on heart, these guys stand in a league of their own! For any band whose music is progressive and purely instrumental, there is a need for that music to completely set the scene and the aura of Brocken Spectre was nothing short of mesmerising! Individually, the level of ability possessed by Phil Rochard (Guitar), Jordan Payne (Drums) and Duncan Edwards (Bass) warrants the title of virtuoso and when collectively delivered in a setting such as this, the best description I can give is to say that this was one of the most awesome live master classes I’ve ever seen.

Duncan Edwards - Brocken Spectre

It has been way too long since I last saw the fantastic band Netherhall, and after watching their set tonight and reflecting back upon that last previous performance, as good as they had been then, their evident evolution over the past twelve months is nothing short of spectacular. The guitar work of Tom Bushell has always been charismatic in both its delivery and content and with Tom positioned pretty much centre stage tonight, I felt that this really brought to the forefront, the immense passion and intelligence that lies within Netherhall’s sound. Netherhall will be back in Birmingham again on the 19th Feb at The Hammer & The Anvil, so give yourself a treat and get yourself along there to see them.

Tom Bushell - Netherhall

Our headliners for tonight were the Birmingham based band Oktopus, who’ve been playing together since 2014 and comprise of Alistair Bell (Vocals/Guitar), Tim Wilson (Drums/Vocals) and Sam Roberts (Bass).

Sam Roberts - Oktopus

Given that I’ve not seen Oktopus play live before and had only heard snippets of their songs, I don’t think I was fully prepared for the experience of their set tonight – and what a truly amazing set it was! The style and progressive sound that Oktopus deliver is fresh, vibrant and through the sheer excellence of the bands ability, they breath the kind of life into their songs that you don’t tend to come across that often.

Alistair Bell - Oktopus

Highlight of their set for me, was the performance of ‘Worlds Apart’ which also happens to be the title of their debut album aswell.

Tonight’s gig certainly blew away those January cobwebs and left me heading for home, one very happy gal indeed!

Review and Photography by Sue Wardle.

Hils Ovation

O2 Academy2 Birmingham 30th July 2016.

As far as having the chance to attend a rather special live music event goes, tonight’s show at The O2 Academy2 looks set to epitomise all things great within the local music scene. Our headlining band Stone Broken are currently flying very high indeed and with support tonight coming from Theia, Cower Hounds and Sonata Fall, there is every reason to expect this event to be one of a kind!

Starting the night’s music off and in fine form too, were the Staffordshire based band, Sonata Fall. With influences such as Alter Bridge and Tremonti shinning through within their song writing style, the vocals of Justin Reeves certainly worked their magic with the duel attack of razor sharp guitars, courtesy of Alex Dutton and Andy Burns. The band currently have an EP out titled ‘Gravekeeper’s Lantern’ which I can wholeheartedly recommend checking out and for details of how to get a copy of this, just hop on over and check out the bands Facebook page.

Justin Reeves - Sonata Fall

Our next band on stage who were just as fearless as ever and a firm favourite of mine, were the Cower Hounds. For a band comprising of only three musicians, these guys have a huge sound and an energy to match and it was that aspect of their set tonight that delivered the wow factor for me. It was also great to stand amongst the audience and hear the comments which were being made about the band so I’m sure they picked up a few new fans tonight! If you’ve not seen the Cower Hounds live before, then you really do need to.

Paul Reynolds - Cower Hounds

Tonight’s line up really was a match made in heaven with our main support being none other than Theia! I’ve had the great pleasure of seeing this band grow and evolve over the years and tonight’s set marked the next new chapter for me, as this was my first opportunity to catch Jake Dalton on drums. I have to say that it was also quite a buzz to finally see the band on a stage the size of the O2 Academy2 as a live Theia performance is never a quiet or subdued affair and tonight their gifted ability to rock an audience absolutely shone!

Kyle Lamley - THEIA

The last few months have brought a hive of activity and success for our headlining band Stone Broken and tonight’s gig at The O2 Academy 2 was anticipated as being one of a kind as not only had it been upgraded to Hall 2 due to selling out Hall 3 in a very short time span, but tonight’s event also comes following the wave of celebrations for the bands signing of a record deal with Frontiers Music.

As the band took to the stage amidst the warmest of West Midlands welcomes, their was an atmosphere akin to a triumphant home coming which set the mood for the entirety of the Stone Broken’s set.

Chris Davis - Stone Broken

With the note perfect vocals of Rich Moss and outstanding guitar and bass work of Chris Davis and Kieron Conroy accentuating tracks such as ‘Stay All Night’, ’Better’ and ’Not Your Enemy’, it was clear to see how and why the bands popularity is growing as fast as it is but for me, it was the amazing talent of Robyn Haycock on drums that I found the most captivating as tonight, we were privileged to witness one of the most impressive drum showcases to be seen outside of a stadium.

Robyn Haycock - Stone Broken

Given the calibre of the bands set and entire performance this evening, I would have expected it to be damn near impossible to identify one particular highlight that stood out above all others but hand on heart, I’m so very happy to have been proved wrong in that thought. As all those familiar with the tracks on the bands debut album ‘All In Time’ will know, there is one particular rock ballad which stands firmly in the same league as many of the timeless greats and tonight’s acoustic version of ’Wait For You’, made a memory not to be forgotten.

Rich Moss and Kieron Conroy - Stone Broken

And the lasting memory came not just from it’s perfect performance but from the moment of revelation on the bands faces as The Broken Army jumped in and sang the chorus back to the band – and when an army of some four hundred plus people does that with such feeling, that memory is a keeper.

If you ever hear anyone saying that nothing will ever come of being in a band and dreaming big, just point them in the direction of Stone Broken as these guys and gal are well on the way to proving that combined with hard work, dreams can and do come true!

Review and Photography by Sue Wardle.