A 7.30pm start meant the crowd was pretty sparse as Operation Error started their set. Fortunately, the place filled up rapidly after a couple of songs and they were treated to a set full of power, passion and sheer energy. Space on stage was limited due to the fact there were two drum kits, which meant drummer Matt Steele was positioned in line with the rest of the band; although this didn’t detract from the performance, quite the reverse. It was great to see him in action as he powered the rhythm section along with Stu Blackwood on bass. The opening number “Red Rum” instantly got the crowd going and thanks to great work by the soundman, Steve Ayres' towering vocals could be heard loud and clear. Next up was the anthemic “I Am David” which had the crowd singing along, much to the delight of the exuberant Shaun “Wink” Winkle who’s song they were all singing. Having seen these boys on numerous occasions, JP’s lead work is sometimes lost in the wall of sound that is Operation Error, but tonight thanks again to the soundman his well-crafted lead solos cut through like the proverbial hot knife through butter. Two new songs, “A Vision Corrupted” & “An Unlikely Exit”, were equally well received, along with crowd favourite, “First to Pass”. Their final song, “Whisper in the Wind”, was a fitting close to their set with the band really cutting loose; a great vocal from Steve and powerful three part harmonies with Wink & Stu guaranteed a high octane finale. Much to the crowds delight the boys took it in turns to mount the podiums at either side of the stage, bringing roars of approval from a very satisfied audience.
I have a confession to make; at this point I went up to the roof bar, got talking (and drinking) and didn’t see Grand Volume. Apologies.
Slaves to Gravity
I knew little or nothing about Slaves to Gravity. I had been reliably informed by my gig buddy, Dave Ayres (Dad of Steve), that these guys were the real deal. He was right!! From the first bars of their opening number you knew this was going to be good. The sound once again was superb, and we were treated to a set of no-nonsense rock that had you involuntarily tapping your feet and nodding your head. Front man Tommy Gleeson is the archetypal rock singer, strutting and snarling his way through the set giving it everything he’s got. The crowd appreciated this and the band were given a great reception. Not being familiar with the band I didn’t know any of their songs, but I knew I was enjoying myself and that was good enough for me. The standard of the musicianship was superb, and the effort and energy that the band put into their performance made you want to applaud. Like I say I didn’t know the songs, but we were treated to tracks from the bands “Scatter the Crows” album, and if their live performance is anything to go by, it would be a must for your CD collection. The band left the stage to rapturous applause and made a lot of new friends in Stoke-on-Trent.