Sunday, 22 June 2008

The Vants/The Low Orders/Six Weeks Falling @ The Band Stand, Hanley. June 21st

Review and photos by Steve Dean

An unusual night at the Band Stand by the fact that every band on the bill was from out of town. Rock ‘n’ Rose Management of Lichfield are using the venue for a series of showcases and the three acts tonight were the first of these.

Wolverhampton-based The Vants are a well-rehearsed, confident group of players and it is a pity there were not more punters in to see them. Essentially heavy rock, they have a tight, clean sound and a wealth of good and at times commercial material. The standard of musicianship was high in general and it was interesting to note bassist Phe’s unusual, but effective right-thumb technique. Beginning with ‘Thrill Seeker’, they took the small, but appreciative audience through a never less than interesting and generally up-tempo eight-song set. The Vants; Dickens, Jenko, Phe and Blandy – lead vocals/guitar, lead guitar, bass and drums respectively, don’t seem to lean in any particular direction image-wise, but musically they have plenty of good ideas and the classic rock era of the 70s seems to be a fair-sized influence. By that token, I particularly liked the Sabbath-ish aspect of some of their numbers. I also enjoyed the use of musical light and shade in slower tracks like ‘Every Time We Say Goodbye’. A fine opening act.

Due to their drummer breaking his leg, The Low Orders were reduced to a duo for the evening. Sitting on stools, Matty Prince on bass and singer/songwriter Andrew Heath foregoing his electric for an acoustic guitar, they gave a very acceptable performance of a set that seemed as if written for an acoustic act as such anyway. Beginning with a lively ditty called ‘This Old Town’ and following on with an interesting variety of songs, it soon became clear that Andrew has a creditable flair as a tunesmith in his own right. Although his engaging melodies are heavy with the influences of the likes of Noel Gallagher and Ray Davies at times, he sings his songs like he means them and their final number ‘England’s Glory’ is a fine example of his talent. How Lichfielders The Low Orders come across in their normal 3-piece incarnation, I’ve no idea, but as a hastily formed duo, they offered an engrossing half-hour’s entertainment.

My first impression of Ed, Coop, Al, Tash and Jon, the five members who make up Burton-on-Trent band Six Weeks Falling, was of a somewhat diluted U2 with faint simmerings of a not-so-Red Hot Chilli Peppers bubbling up here and there. Rather a motley crew in appearance, the band has no clearly defined image except guitarist Ed’s astonishing resemblance to a young Fidel Castro, complete with red star on his military-style cap. I don’t know if the likeness is intentional or otherwise, but the implied sight of the old revolutionary leaping around with an Epiphone is certainly an unexpected one. In the main, their songs have a tendancy to begin quietly and then very gradually build into something quite thunderous. ‘Thunderous’ being something drummer Tash does very well indeed. She certainly lays into that kit of hers and no mistake; and interestingly, her almost continual assault and battery on her well-clobbered skins is the onstage action, along with leaping Fidel, that one finds the gaze most drawn to. She laid down a cracking beat for a version of ‘Word Up’, that for me had the edge over everything else they played on the night; but then again, in fairness it was the only tune I was familiar with. On the whole, the presentation tends to be a little sloppy in places, but being a recently-formed band, this may well be down to lack of time playing together. It would be of interest to see them again in say, six months’ time.

It is always interesting to see bands from outside Stoke-on-Trent playing in the city and it would be nice to see Rock ‘n’ Rose Management do well with their venture.

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