Wednesday, 30 September 2009

The Rittz / The Sport / Sound of Guns @ The Sugarmill Hanley 28th September 2009

Review by Liam Kelly

Photos by Leo Mazzocchio

Arriving on stage to an already large crowd, were a band I’ve seen plenty of in recent months, The Rittz. After being very impressed in the past by this four piece from Congleton, tonight was no exception and they were at their very best. Starting of the set with their most well known song ‘Justify the Need,’ lead singer Adam French and guitarist Sam Hancock showed off the furious guitar riffs which have made this band so popular in Stoke. ‘3:42’ was the next track with Adam and Sam supported by the powerful bass playing of Jake Alldread and the symbol crashing drumming of Matt Bass. ‘Patriots Paradise’ and ‘Someone like me’ really got the crowd going much to the delight of Sam, and the band got better throughout the set. Adam has one of the most unique and powerful voices from any local bands and has the talent to go on to big things, and is superbly backed by Sam, Jake and Matt. Finishing the night with the quick tempo of ‘False Apologies,’ this sent the near full crowd into a frenzy and the band were given a great reception as they left the stage. An excellent performance from one of the most promising bands in this area at this moment in time.

The next support band were the ever increasingly popular 5 piece, The Sport. The Sugarmill was now packed with their loyal and energetic fan's and the band kicked straight into their set with ‘Slow Down.’ This song quickly demonstrated this bands intentions of giving the crowd and unforgettable performance and the crowd screamed back the chorus to frontman Nic Andrews.
They then belted out the anthemic stomper ‘Holiday’ which showed off the quality and pitch perfection of Nic’s melodic voice, add this to the authoritive bass playing of Nick Gallagher, the robust rhythms of Mark Taylor and Alex Shenton on guitars, and the frantic drumming of Matt Jones, and you have one of the most unique sounding bands in Stoke, and its easy to see why they have become so popular. The band finished the night with their two most popular songs ‘Dead Stars’ and ‘Tick Tock’ which sent the crowd into further chaos prompting scenes of flung pints, frugging mosh pits and crowd surfers.

Headliners Sound of Guns arrived on stage to a smaller crowd then the one that had turned up for the support bands. This was not to have an effect on the boys from Liverpool and if anything it prompted them to put on an even better performance to prove what those who's left were missing out on. It’s clear too see why this band are rated so highly by Radio 1 and definitely earned their time at Glastonbury. Andy Metcalfe has a well pitched voice and has certainly knows how to put on a performance, constantly urging the crowd to get involved in each song. ‘Alcatraz’ and ‘Architects’ were the bands most accomplished tracks of the night and showed the quality instrumentalists in the band and in particular Lee Glyn on guitar whose tidy guitar riffs give Sound of Guns that accomplished and professional sound. A band who are already making their mark in the music world and are expecting to go on to big things.


Monday, 21 September 2009

Sold out Story/Bonfires/Tequila Lips/Heart of the Sun @ The Underground Hanley 19th September 2009

Review by Liam Kelly

Photos by Scott Sharman and Matt Attwood

Opening tonight’s proceedings were pop punk band Sold out Story. Arriving on stage to loud cheers from their loyal supporters, it turned out that two of the band members had to be replaced after pulling out last minute. Sold out Story gave a reasonable performance considering the difficulties and I was particularly impressed by the tidy vocal performance of front man Matt who gave his best throughout the performance. The most noticeable track from their short set was ‘Breathe’ a quick and upbeat number that highlighted drummer Ben’s capabilities as well as being a clear crowd pleaser. What this band lacked in experience they certainly made up for in passion and confidence and I would be interested to them play with their permenant line up.

Next on stage were the much favoured 3 piece Bonfires. They kicked straight into their performance with the well known track ‘Drop the Weapon.’ This track in particular showed the quality Britpop sound this band creates throughout their set, and it’s clear to see the influences of The Verve and Ocean Colour Scene in their sound. Lead singer and guitarist Stu has a strong voice matched by his friendly guitar riffs throughout, this is backed by the deep and authoritative bass of Darren and the furious symbol crashing of Mike on drums. Unfortunately the crowd was not as complementary as they were for the previous band but this was not to have any effect on Bonfires performance and they deserve full credit for their set. The two tracks ‘Time is right’ and ‘True to life’ were particularly catchy and both featured hooky choruses. Finishing their performance with ‘All we have is tomorrow,’ Bonfires played their most accomplished track of the night and Stuart excelled with his vocal performance and guitar solo. A very enjoyable performance from a band who I am looking forward to seeing plenty more of in the future.

Tequila Lips were the main support for the evening and with them followed a very large tribe of fans. Quite clearly popular they went straight into their set with an upbeat number and frontman Gary Clay urged the crowd to get involved. Their second track ‘Joe Teague’ showed what this band is all about and the two guitarists Tom and Dave gave an energetic and smooth performance combining with the powerful bass playing of Azza and raging drumming of Sam Aspinall. Gary then really got the crowd moving and singing along in ‘Never enough’ showing his melodic and well pitched voice at its very best. ‘Crystal Ball’ showed how good Tequila Lips are, with a superb quick tempo instrumental performance. Finishing the night with ‘Another face in the crowd,’ this was definitely the bands strongest song and was sung by guitarist Tom at the beginning and his supreme vocal performance was superbly matched by the rest of the band. Tequila lips stunned me by the sheer quality of their set and this was certainly one of the best performances I have seen in a long time.

The final act of the night was from headliners Heart of the Sun. They started their performance with a new song titled ‘City Boy’. Next was the well known track ‘Movie Scene’ and it was in this track that Heart of the Sun showed where they fit into the progressive rock genre, with a heavy and unique sound. ‘What is on your mind’ showed frontman James Blake’s heart warming melodius voice at its best showing why he is one of the hottest talents in Stoke right now. Self titled track ‘Heart of the Sun’ was a stark change from the previous track and showed the bands incomparable stage presence. The frantic and energetic drumming of Jake Nixon was amongst the best I have seen from any band in Stoke right now; add to this the furious guitaring of Dave and the versatility of Ross on Bass, and you have one of the most impressive sounding bands in local music scene. This was further highlighted in the next track ‘Pausing stop and start’ and again James put on an impressive visual performance as well as belting out pitch perfect vocals also showing the gritty sound produced by the band. Finishing the night with ‘Break’ the band showed further variety with the tight funk blasts of Dave on the keyboard.

2010 could be a big year for Heart of the Sun, a band who have the talent and passion to go on to big things and tonight they showed just why they are rated so highly.

Sold out Story
Tequila Lips
Heart of the Sun

Sunday, 13 September 2009

Dave Barlow Memorial Gig The Decision / Friends of Ken / The Black Apples @ The Sugarmill 12th September 2009

Article by Martin Goodhead

Photo by Leo Mazzocchio

A memorial concert to gig-going mainstay Dave Barlow, saw some of Stoke’s finest showcase a heady mix of punk-pop, churning indie, blues and psychedelia— along with an appearance from the (infamous) Trent Vale Poet. A touching night, with the line up selected from Dave’s favourite Stoke based bands.

The first band to take the stage was The Decision, who presented half an hour of outstanding indie rock. Having clearly spent several hours in the studio, they have developed a polished performance that puts them well ahead of their contemporaries.

In what was a fitting tribute to Dave, Trent Dale Poet took to the stage during change over to share not only his poetry but brought a new dimension to his work by rapping to an accompaniment by Friends of Ken. Local heroes Friends of Ken draw in a mess of influences into their whiplash pop-punk, from Green Day and Ash to the Pixies-who they homage with a suitably cloud-cast ‘Holiday’. In amidst the usual between song ramblings, Big-un paid fitting tribute to Dave, acknowledging that he was a prolific gig-goer that often put other muso's to shame. This however did not dampen their rip-roaring set which showcased their new album and also showed their adeptness at delivering a winning set.

Trent Vale Poet again entertained the gathered crowd between sets, providing a dose of ramshackle witticisms, including a dramatic monologue which took on the BNP. As the last band of the evening, The Black Apples certainly delivered the goods, with a solid set of their best songs they really got the audience going. Continuing the celebratory theme of the evening, they provided us with note perfect songs such as ‘Don’t give a damn’ and ‘Buy me a ticket’. Not only would this evening’s performances have been a great gig as a stand alone event, but the atmosphere poignantly paid tribute to Dave Barlow and his memory.