Monday, 25 October 2010

Oxjam @ The Sugarmill 23rd October 2010

Review by Liam Kelly

Photo by Alex Mulliner

Tonight saw the culmination of Stoke Oxjam, with The Sugarmill hosting four of Stokes biggest acts each who played their part in the cause, and put on a memorable show.

First to take stage were Stokes biggest showmen, ‘Tequila Lips.’ The thriving energy of frontman Gary Clay mixed with the backing of a band that not only boasts some serious musical talent, but good looks, style and charm that puts any other band to stage. These boys aren’t all about appearance though, tracks such as the anthemic ‘No way back,’ and ‘Joe Teague,’ show the bands promise and Gary’s melodic voice is superbly backed from the rest of the band. Other particular highlights from the set included ‘The Way you say hello,’ and ‘Crystal Ball,’ a track boasting some of the hookiest choruses around. A performance which suggested that these lads were more suited as potential headliners rather than first warm up act, Tequila Lips went down a storm with the crowd and in particular, me!

Next up were The Riots. This band display quality in every department, from the powerful drumming of Joe, to Marks heavy bassing, the Hendrix-style riffs of Steve and vocals of such quality from frontman Woko that comparisons to U2’s Bono come to mind straight away. In tracks such as ‘Hey Now,’ and ‘No Disguise,’ the 80s/90’s Britpop and earlier influences are easy to see with hints of The Who, Pink Floyd, Kasabian and The Stone Roses. For me, Woko is possibly the strongest frontman on the Stoke scene at the moment, and his vocal strength is incredible, in particular within the tracks ‘Shoot Me,’ and the afoementioned ‘No Disguise.’

The penultimate act of the evening was one of the city’s most popular bands of the moment, The Way. On the back of releasing one of the most anticipated albums in Stoke, in addition to two singles, The Way gave us another unforgettable performance. Minus guitarist Dean Dale , this was to have no effect on the other lads and lead singer/guitarist Stefan Smiths powerful vocals blended with Scott Powell’s ferocious bassing and the brutal drums of Rich Howshall give The Way a rock 'n' roll sound similar that to the old school sound in the 60’s and 70’s.

Not a band to follow the stereotypical “Arctic Monkeys Genre,” their two debut singles ‘Yesterdays News’ and ‘One Time Round,’ have the hasty tempo that sends Stoke crowds into a frenzy, and tonight was no different. ‘River Island Skirts,’ see's Stefan showing off the quality of his rhythm guitar and the switchover of vocals between Scott and Stefan give the band that extra versatility. Go out and buy the album, you will not regret it.

Tonight’s headliners were one of my favourite bands from Stoke, Skinny Pigs. This band are what Rock 'n' Roll is all about! Frontman Craig Paterson is one of the coolest men in local music, and can be described best with the aggressive vocal style Liam Gallagher mixed with the coolness of Paul Weller. This is to take no credit away from the rest of the band, the explosive bass guitaring of Ben Nixon particularly stands out in the bands most well known song, perhaps their calling card in fact, ‘Best in Me.’ A track which the band have just made a video for, it has the potential to be released as a successful single.

Thier slower track, ‘Drinkin up’ see’s Rhythm guitarist Lee Swindells display tight sounding riffs to add to the amp shattering guitar solos Sam Hardy in songs such as ‘Leave me Alone,’ and ‘It’s all about the Rock and Roll.’ The backbeat of all this comes from the symbol crashing drumming of the bands newest addition to the line up, Jake Cunnigham. ‘I've got a fever’ is a particular favourite with the Pigs' loyal following, and sees the crowd screaming back the lyrics to the band. Skinny Pigs know how to put on a show and in particular Craig who owns the stage and easily works the crowd. A great ending to a superb night, and in particular raising money for an important charity. Stoke can be proud of it’s bands tonight as they were all in top form.

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