Monday, 7 July 2008

Hollow Victory/Wire Spider/Hollywood Tease/Mod Life Crisis /Green Eyes Red /Last Scene Falling @ Rock on the Rocks Festival, Biddulph Moor. July 5th.

Review by Steve Dean

Photo by Simon Bamford

Although we had turned up specifically to review the talents of Last Scene Falling, there were a fair few names on the bill. Two stages were set up, one inside and one out; so each band played more or less as the other stage was set up for the next group to come on.

The first band we found in action when we arrived was five-piece Hollow Victory, performing on the inside stage. Although we only caught the last couple of tunes, I heard enough to decide that they were a very capable outfit with two good strong songs at least. Lively pop/rock being their chosen medium, this bunch of 17-year-olds played their well-arranged compositions with confidence and verve. They certainly deserved the enthusiastic applause.

Very shortly afterwards and outside beneath the ominously darkening sky, Wire Spider kicked in their cover number set with the Cult’s ‘She Sells Sanctuary’. It is a little difficult to review ‘covers' bands as it is not dissimilar to reviewing a juke box really; all you can really discuss is how good the players were at interpreting the numbers. In Wire Spider’s case, they were very good at it; playing a hard driving set made up of classic rock songs such as ‘Tush’ and ‘White Wedding’. Retitled ‘Steak Pudding’ and sung as such by vocalist Richard Mason, who displayed a fine line in humorous chat throughout their set. I found his claim that ‘Hard to Handle’ was about fighting with overweight women in Chell Heath particularly diverting.

A walk back to the inside stage found Hollywood Tease halfway through their first song. Image-wise looking somewhere between Guns ‘n’ Roses and the New York Dolls, this elaborately coiffured band has a clear idea of how it wants to be perceived and they play their parts very well. In fact, the influences of Stateside bands of the calibre of Motley Crue and the aforementioned Guns ‘n’ Roses feature very strongly in the overall mix; both in stage attitude and material. They have two excellent guitarists and their twin-lead work at the end of their final number, ‘Good Times’ was very impressive indeed. A good show confidently played and well-presented all round.

Outside in the steadily increasing downpour, the intriquingly-named Mod Life Crisis, another band in the ‘covers’ mould, were running through their set. Their style firmly rooted in the early to middle 60s, they played some good stuff, but appeared to have no clear idea of how to end a song; mostly just stopping dead somewhere near the end or petering/fizzling out. I can only think that most of their old 45rpm vinyls had fade-out endings.

Next on the indoor stage, Green Eyes Red, in roughly equal diametrical opposition, appeared to have spent as little time and effort on their image as Hollywood Tease had spent developing theirs. There is a lot to be said for the old adage that if you look the part, you’ll feel the part. Green Eyes Red wouldn’t have looked out of place playing shove a’penny in the working man’s club on a Wednesday night. Considering they are supposed to be a rock band, is that really the image they want to put across? If we are talking ‘let the music speak for itself’, I have to say that the guitarwork throughout the first, long, long song sounded excruciatingly like someone dragging their nails along a seemingly endless blackboard – and I mean, with the aid of some sort of phasing unit, really sounding like that. On the whole though, their performance did put out a good beat and extracted a reasonable response from the audience. Coming across generally as a bit like U2, only more noisy and repetitive, Green Eyes Red are also a bit of an enigma, in that I cannot find any references to them at all on the internet; no myspace profile, nothing. Most unusual.

As a footnote, the guitarist had a really nice Fender Jaguar, an instrument that seems to be far more popular now than it ever was. As a guitar that was largely ignored by the majority of guitarists for many years, I wonder how it has since come to enjoy this new popularity?

Emerging into the heavy rain and a veritable sea of umbrellas, we made our way to the front of the main stage to watch Last Scene Falling.

A six-piece, Last Scene Falling have a wealth of good songs and a fine singer in Tim Robins. The rest of the band; the aptly-named Matt Pounder on drums, Jimmy Webster on keyboards, bassist Bill Atkins and Jim Miller and Si Pounder on lead and rhythm guitars respectively offer a more than capable backing to his strong and full-bodied vocals. The first two numbers getting the audience firmly on their side, despite the foul weather, they showed themselves to be a tight and well-rehearsed outfit. The slower paced third number, ‘Self Support’, with its atmospheric introduction, further demonstrated a solid songwriting ability in whoever it is that writes their numbers; and in all fairness that could be said about every one of the compositions in their set. Unfortunately, I didn’t catch the titles of any of the other tunes they played on Saturday, but I have a particular liking for a track called ‘One To Thirteen’, currently on their myspace profile. Last Scene Falling are a fine band, and with the right breaks, could go far.

Congratulations to the Rock on the Rocks organisers for putting it all on. It’s a pity that here in the UK it is all so hit-or-miss with our maddeningly unpredictable weather. An enjoyable evening out nonetheless.


Monkey G said...

Hi just wanted to say cheers for your comments about are first gig at Rock on the rocks 2008.

We have a myspace!!!DERRRRRRRRRR!


LadyJreviews said...

Green Eyes Red are a band on the up.....they have found their flow,and sound better each time we hear them. They seem to be moving from musical infancy to maturity!! See them at Live and Loud, Cygnet club, congleton on Fri 20th March.
Be there!! and be fair!!