Friday, 8 October 2010

Acey Slade / Sworn to Oath / Hollywood Tease / The Honour Roll @ The Sugarmill 5th October 2010

Review by Sian Eardley
Photo by Leo Mazzocchio

A night of rock with four bands on offer: and 75% of which were pretty darn good, and that includes the main headliners ‘Acey Slade and The Dark Party’, so we didn’t do badly.

First up was local trio ‘The Honour Roll’, who I have to say did a stellar job and they turned in quite a few friends/fans who came especially for them. Including the old hits which everyone knows, (i.e. ‘Hey Bitch’), they dished out exactly what the local scene is crying out for: more bands where vocals can be heard and there’s excellent musical talent to boot, and not just one or the other. They held a classic rock vibe along the lines of Ozzy, Alice Cooper and G ‘n’ R; the good stuff from the 80’s and the early 90’s, y’know, the sort of music you’d find on a Wayne’s World OST. They were of a high standard and exhumed that American rock feel. They didn’t just thrash chords about frivolously, their melodic solos put emotional soul back into the heart of rock ‘n’ roll. They were the perfect preparation for Hollywood Tease; Stoke’s finest rock Gods.

But then what is this? Hollywood Tease gone dark? They’ve donned dark hair, ditched the platinum, and were wearing relatively more clothes than usual. How very queer indeed. However, this may be to add to their maturity level as they reeled out some new material into their routine. It’s been somewhat of a while since a big headlining show for the boys and admittedly their normal gathering was nowhere in sight tonight, nor the ladies in the latex pants. They really are the best act Stoke has to offer, and I might say it every time but they prove it every time. This said, I do prefer their former image as their Glam Rock look further supports the notion that they play the part and also become it. Their newest: “Ballad” as Ashe referred to it was simply astounding, having a similar powerful effect to that of Velvet Revolver’s ‘Pieces’. You’d really think they’d been a top act for years and I want to see them make it so badly, and every time I wonder ‘how the bloody hell did Stoke manage to produce something like this?’ (Swooning babes included) And, for a relatively quiet set, they sure did ‘Turn it Up Again’ for the next act.

Sworn to Oath leapt on to ‘Who Let the Dogs Out?’ which immediately rang alarm bells, and if that’s not a warning sign of how bad they’d be, I don’t know what is. How they came after Hollywood Tease I’ll never know…They had OK vocals, but were mediocre at best. It’s the same old, nothing set them apart from the usual metal rubbish of today, it was pure amp-munching shredding, and shouting down the mic like a dinosaur. The only track that seemed to rouse the crowd was “Leave you 4 Ted’ – I tried to find what could be attractive about it but nothing unique jumped out at me. To make matters worse, the lead singer had a total lack of charm and wit, and so when addressing the audience as ‘C*nts’, he couldn’t really pull it off. It wasn’t big or clever, so I think I’ll ‘leave you cause you’re pants’. I just really wished the set away, and haven’t been as agitated by a front man since seeing Gerard Way where ‘f’ing’ this and ‘f’ing’ that were the only words to leave his mouth. Good job I’d left the rotten tomatoes at home. They just tried too hard to be too metal and too badass, resulting in no energy, no drive and no spark. NEXT!!!!

As for Acey Slade, I expected to see more bodies, as he was a pretty big deal back in the heyday of ‘The Murderdolls’, yet he really pulled it off, thus being great for making maximum effort to a minimum crowd. He still hasn’t lost his cool edge, especially seen when strangling co-players with a mic lead. Nice touch. He’s quite the performer and very interactive, holding an air of grace. He’s a soft spoken cool dude (not what you’d exactly expect as ‘he’s so weird, he’s so strange’), coming across as a dark Garth Elgar.

Still the crowd seemed to be dispersing, up to the point where it got uncomfortably embarrassing as he’d come all this way to unleash his new solo project and debut album: : a mix of electronic and rock, like a NIN/ Manson revamped sound, fitting for a Matrix soundtrack, and just as you’d want to leave, out comes a diamond of a cover; wickedly good. Acey told the crowd he never set out to sound manufactured (ahem STO!), as they wanted to push the boundaries and do something different, therefore their take on The Cult’s ‘She Sells Sanctuary’ was a belter. This is a personal favourite of mine and even I’d go as far to say it nearly succeeded the original; bringing the remainder of the audience to life with this out of the world performance. Come to think of it, maybe it was a good thing not many were in as it gave the opportunity for Mr. Slade to be more intimate with crowd and even leap onto walls. Now he’s the kinda guy you don’t mind being called a ‘C*nt’ by as we warmed to this charming miracle man. ‘She Bring’s Down the Moon’ was another stunning piece; a good guitar tune with a sexy and intoxicating feel; a heavier ‘To the Moon and Back’ (Savage Garden).

We really have been blessed by so many good gigs just lately and this is just one of them. With the classic rock glimpses of tonight, we really can Keep the Faith that there IS and always will be good music out there.

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