Thursday, 24 April 2008

We Like Danger presents Inside Right/Wooderson/Ox Scapula @ The Band Stand, Hanley. April 23th.

Review by Steve Dean

Photo By Simon Bamford

Steadily growing in popularity, it was pleasing to see enough punters in the Band Stand this evening to make this midweek gig from promotors ‘We Like Danger’ as worthwhile as it was.

Kicking in with the gutsy ‘Book of Crypto’, first on the bill Inside Right established a cracking pace from the outset. ‘Passionate’ is not a word I would usually employ when describing a drummer’s playing, but the bloke behind the kit here plays with an emotion rarely associated with these particular instruments. Add to this the flowing chordwork of the two guitarists plus some melodic vocals and the resulting concoction makes for a fine set of tunes played by a fine band. Their style very much in the indie rock vein, although there are some shades of U2 in there, they have some interesting ideas song-wise and I particularly liked the interjective phrasing of their third song ‘Snakes’. The tuneful ringing solos on ‘Chess’ are also a highlight, as is their great use of musical light and shade on ‘Silent Sample’, their last song. A short set, but a very good one. As a final word, I must add that the lead guitarist had the nicest Squier Telecaster I’ve ever come across.

Hailing from Sheffield, three-piece Wooderson, only together since last November, are quite simply one of most exciting bands I’ve ever seen. Their exhilarating and explosively coordinated timing and whole-hearted approach to their songs clutched the guts of every seasoned rocker in the room. Proceeding to play with refreshing confidence, their opening number began with a wall of feedback and ended with a mighty crescendo usually reserved for an ending number; but it mattered not as far as these were concerned. Drummer Josh’s inspired stickwork fired the other two up as they took their unembellished, raw rock to height after height. The stop/start arrangement of ‘Safeguard’ should be heard by all that appreciate hard rock at its meatiest. The track is available on their two track CD, but good though it is, their live performance of it was something to be beheld. When not leaping around all over the place, bassist Sam displayed a rare willingness to exchange good-humoured banter with the audience between songs and his statement that he was glad to be in the town of long-departed Slash’s birth only but warmed the room to him. Guitarist Loic isn’t what one would call a flash guitarist, but he has that rare Hendrix trait of wringing one exciting sound after another from his battered Telecaster. The word ‘brilliant’ could be heard being uttered by many mouths after their act. About right.

The rather more restrained, but still impressive Ox Scapula specialise in unusual arrangements and the use of chords more associated with the jazz world rather than rock, but still play rock rather than jazz; if you get what I mean. Their clever compositons are never less than interesting and although discordant at times, it is obvious that this is intentional. It is this very different approach that sets them apart from any other outfit I’ve seen around at the moment. Their myspace site states that they are a punk band, but they are like no punk band I’ve ever come across before; their songs being those of an ilk one could sit and chill to, rather than leap solidly up and down. There is nothing predictable about their set; one nicely crafted idea after another issues readily forth and their very capable drummer does a great job of holding it all together. Seemingly prefering to concentrate on the task in hand, they don’t display much movement onstage; indeed, their female bassist shows virtually no sign of movement at all; standing motionless with her back to the audience throughout the entire set. Interesting to see an aluminium-necked Kramer guitar being used and also a rare East German Musima Elektra. Music more for the mind than the dancing feet; Ox Scapula have a worthy place on any bill.

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