Friday, 25 February 2011

We are the Ocean / Blitz Kids / Spy Catcher @ The Sugarmill 23rd February 2011

Review by Matthew Tilt

Photo by Becky Leese

One of the main symbols of mockery in teen culture is that twat with the acoustic guitar, singing about the angst of been this impossibly attractive heartthrob and the fact that no girl could ever understand his deep, poignant inner self, while at the same time never been happy without him. We all hate that guy and Spy Catcher are five of these guys who grew up on a steady diet of post hardcore and Foo Fighter-esque mainstream rock. I mean the lyrics say it all.

“Nobody listens, nobody cares.

I’m the next best thing to that.”

To make matters worse, their music is a poppy version of the above influences, which never works because they constantly strive to try and make it sound heavier then it is, possibly due to the fact that the band is made up of members from Cry for Silence and Gallows. Throughout this mish mash of questionable lyrics and musical influences, the crowd are distracted and hold conversations between themselves, only paying attention to applaud at the end of each song.

Luckily things take a massive jump in quality and atmosphere when Crewe hot picks Blitz Kids hit the stage. Proving to be one of the best bands from the NWOKF (New Wave Of Kerrang! Fodder) it’s like You Me At Six with an edge, and they give it their all for the crowd who respond by singing every word back to them.

Joe James has a confident and strong voice and completely controls the crowd, creating mosh pits for each song. With a new album out in two months, these guys should go on to big things because even though there is very little new here, it’s perfect escapism whether you’re into pop, rock, or you’re a metalhead like yours truly.

Now people really are excited, it’s not long till We Are the Ocean take the stage and when they do the reaction is huge. Unfortunately the music is not, their new stuff is cynically designed to insight sing a longs, and Dan Brown’s ‘screams’ never quite reach the point where they can be considered screams. Not only this but he goes on to copy every other hardcore vocalist by climbing all around the venue, which is entertaining for the first million times you see it, but now that we’re onto what must be the fifth generation of dare devil vocalists it starts to get really boring.

With the new album they’re in a strange loophole of music, where they lack the bite of post hardcore while having a little too much to be considered truly mainstream and this means that it makes their heavier old stuff stands out like a sore thumb in their set. It’s strange because while most bands progress and change their style around the sophomore album, WATO still seem to pine for the old days, as if it was the big bad corporations that pushed them towards the newer sound.

On a less critical note it is a tight and energetic set, and despite all their problems, it is entertaining to behold, that is until Confessions kicks in which attempts all the depth and emotion of a Stain’d B-side, thrown out because it was a little too whiny. Still the crowd love every minute, and cry for more when they leave the stage, I just wish that they had bought better material to their first Stoke show in two and half years.

Eyeball Eyeball / Diamonds / Makakarooma Crudongalong @ The Smithfield 18th February 2011

Review by Pete Callaghan

Photos by Kevin Percival

Walking into the Smithfield, I didn’t know what to expect. Locals sparsely filled the bar with an inaudible prepubescent DJ, playing a selection of his dads CD’s. But luckily for you, that’s not why I was there; otherwise, this review would be tediously boring - with me trying to decipher whether that DJ was a clever piece of performance art or not.

No, I was there for what was going on above the bar, in a small and cosy function room. I’ve come to prefer DIY gigs; the laser shows and revolving flaming wheels of death don’t really do it for me anymore. There’s always something humble about them and it’s simply about the reason why anyone attends gigs in the first place; music obviously. So with the surroundings accustomed and a beer in my hand, I settled down into the night.

Worth a mention, but not the bill, was the drum and bass duo consisting of Eyeball Eyeball’s guitarist. This funky, jazzy little number got the evening off on a nice foot first as the seamless improvisation bounced through basslines with a heavy groove and drum passages filled with scatterings of motorik and light jazz throughout.

Left with a head full of dizzying funk melodies to hum along too, a table with all manner of noise making apparatus was now pushed center forward, and when the singer of Makakarooma Crudongalong spat onto a black and white photocopy of a supermodel, quickly brought me hurtling back to reality and away from my funk odyssey. This was a bleak reality I found, as he then began call out like some kind of dystopic rag and bone man, and the bassist turned up the volume to eleven. This was a spectacle to watch, awash with analog filth, pounding tribalistic drums and overdriven bass rhythms. An auditory perverse act was taking place in front of me and I was enjoying it. The singer’s distorted wails and moans seem to punctuate him punishing the table and moving it throughout the small function room; occasionally, leaping onto it in an explosion of primal energy.

Though, people could argue with me for hours about whether this is music or not, I’d feel that they’d missed the point with Makakarooma Crudonalong and instead should just shut up and allow themselves to be sonically violated for 20 minutes; that’d teach them.

In the wake of that violent episode, Diamond took to the corner of the room, which, I will affectionately call the “stage”. This Birmingham home brew of spazz, grind and disco ignites in short, spastic passages of equal technicality and brutality. Their energy is what grips you most - lead singer Nathan James Coyle spins and pivots round the room, screaming and shouting incessantly, whilst drummer, Bruce Goodenough, feverishly pounds out blistering blast beats switching to downtempo grooves. Lace this package up with tight guitars and bass, and you’ve got a band that plays hard and fast, and are equally as entertaining. Despite some technical issues, I can quite comfortably say that they brought their own unique breed of spazzcore to Stoke-on-Trent on this rainy Friday night and left a lasting impression on the crowd there.

Headlining was Eyeball Eyeball, a band, which contains members of former Stoke based band Spy vs Spy. This band is very hard to describe, except from maybe a progressive psychedelic implosion, which occurs in your central nervous system and disseminates through your body like a shuddering space-time singularity.

Perhaps that isn’t a very good explanation but if you saw them, you would understand. I became utterly lost in their riffage and the incredible free form drumming – it was almost like a re-education in the many ways you can play the standard snare, kick, tom, crash and hihat setup. The sections are so freeform yet tightly structured that you have no idea where it will go next and yet, you feel a strange psychic premonition dawning on you, without of course, trying to second guess it. I write this review a few days after the event and I still have one of their riffs whirring around my head as if it were some kind of mind worm that had bored into my cerebral cortex and has been singing quietly ever since. See, my very strange analogy makes a little more sense now, doesn’t it?

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

The Feeling @ The Sugarmill 13th February 2011

Review by Sian Eardley

The Feeling – so what do we know so far? They came around at the same time of the height of indie pop acts such as The Kaiser Chiefs, Franz Ferdinand and Razorlight. They’re a London power pop/soft rock fivesome with Brit nominations to their belts, and we also know, that it’s been a while since their second album release of ‘Join With Us’ (2008), which followed their poptastic debut album ‘Twelve Stops and Home’, on Island Records. This may have topped I-tunes charts but only got a measly 4/10 from NME; the hot house of musical peers they were no doubt trying to impress and conquer.

So now they’re back, and using small venues i.e. The Sugarmill to bring in the guinea pigs and experiment with their music material ready for their third instalment. Well, being a guinea pig, here’s my analysis:

Looking environmentally, The ‘Mill is fit to burst, and more interestingly it’s host to a more mature audience tonight, I barely saw any flesh younger than my own 21 years about the place, which was actually very refreshing and means there’s hope yet. After a mind-numbingly dull wait of around 30-40 minutes wait for The Feeling’s appearance, and still tightly packed, I was relying heavily on the sound to produce a sensational spectacle, if possible. Truth be told though, I was fairly curious about the whole affair. The Feeling + Stoke Sugarmill couldn’t be more juxtaposed in my eyes, and I wanted to see if they could be more dazzling than the bassist’s Mrs – Sophie Ellis Bextor (are they only famous now for this?), or not basically. But with fans restoring to standing on sofas to squeeze in a peep of them, there was a lot of love and support for them in the room, but the wait was to no avail really, it was rather anti-climactic given the performance. (And please note, the stupidly long wait ended by cutting off The National, which was just plain, rude.)

To their credit, the band were welcomed with deafening cheers, and the opener ‘Set My World on Fire’ was rompingly loud, but the vocal was too mixed, it wasn’t raw or true to it’s cause, so at this point, I would prefer Bextor. There was a happy/poppy ambience, as if taking part in a Pentecostal communion, and I expected everyone to be holding hands at any moment, and, coincidentally, it sounded uncannily like Cliff Richard’s ‘Saviour’s Day’. More cheering, and for what!? Yes, it’s a new material road test and yes they’ve had chart success, but this was a weak start so far.

‘Fill My Little World’ brought them back in line; with a roary bass and bouncy beat it was as catchy as Alphabeat’s ‘Fascination’, and it was allowable for this number to bring everyone together. Don’t get me wrong, it was still a bit poncy, but THEY ARE good at what they have achieved. They definitely give off the festival vibe; feel-good tunes for the likes of ‘V’, and infectious guitar solos. Still, I felt like they were playing in an artificially green garden with big plastic flowers, (think The Big Breakfast), as everything was very airy-fairy.

Then came ‘Another Life’: AKA ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Star’ on keyboard. Sometimes you just have to be aggressive to have depth and validity, but The Feeling seriously lack this. “I can tell you stories… I can tell you them from the heart…a little piece of art’, Singer Dan Gillespie unconvincingly tells….Drab!

And cut to the good stuff –Rosé-perfection in motion. Beauty and poetry; chilling to the bone and their atmospheric pauses made this snippet delightful. It moved me back in 2006 when I first saw it performed live and I’m glad to see it still has a hold on the crowd. It was an explosion of stars, and I loved them for playing it right, and even more so for giving it justice.

‘Fill My Little World’ got the people involved once more, with the ‘b-b-b-baby’ catching on and acting as a reminder of exactly what they’ve produced over recent years. These hits are good for the intent and purposes of pop music, but the newbie’s just haven’t got the vivaz, the panache. Frankly, the new stuff is as exciting as listening to Signal One’s drive time show. After snapping out of these thoughts, I’m back into the swing of this particular song, and Oh God I’m clapping; The Feelingitus is catching and the whammy of the guitar is oh so good, if this isn’t a guilty pleasure I don’t know what is. The ‘never be lonely’ chant is nice and rosy; a little idyll on stage which is sickeningly pleasant, but reality isn’t like this. Thus they lack conviction and standing in their lyrical world of fluffy clouds, where the amps do more than the vocals.

Off with the rose tinted glasses, the harsh reality of tonight’s performance is that their new stuff just doesn’t fit the musical climate of today. It’s as though it somehow slipped into the void of dead 80’s electro pop, lying next to A Flock of Seagulls. The only newbie with any weight to it was ‘Soldier’, featuring fight, angst and grit: ‘the blood on your hands getting colder’.

Overall, I had mixed feelings about tonight. It’s sad to think they might only get by doing working men’s clubs dishing out the golden oldies as throwbacks from the early 00’s, and they were enjoyable, but as for their future, I’m not so sure of their horizons.

Monday, 14 February 2011

Tears of Isharra / For Eyes / Below the Depths @ The Sugarmill 13th February 2001

Review by Matthew Tilt

For fucks sake, I’m 20, I’m not meant to feel like the oldest person in the room, but as the room slowly fills with scene kids in jeans wrapped tighter round their legs than my fist round my wallet when the bill comes, it becomes clear that I’m part of minority of those old enough to go to the bar. None of this helps my apprehension about tonight, a showcase for local deathcore boys Tears of Isharra.

Openers Below the Depths walk on stage to a decent reception, clearly having a good fanbase in the area, and they kick things off with some fairly simple deathcore. The crowd eat it up, starting to move early, and this seems to give Gregg more confidence as he screams his way across the stage demanding more pits from the baying crowd. It’s not particularly original and, when the awful sound allows some guitar to break the wall of drum and bass, for each song a new riff seems to have been stolen, but they have the potential to build on.

Their cover of Far East Movement’s Like a G6 is daft, but you can’t deny that it’s fun when the whole room is bouncing along, and the whole set is filled with promise. In fact, despite the generic nature of it there are only a few down points; like the overuse of echo effects or the spoken word section that steals credibility from one of the faster and more rounded tracks. Not that the crowd care as they continue to scream the words, and feed the fire underneath the band.

Hardcore four piece For Eyes receive a much more cautious crowd, but it doesn’t take long for their raucous style to win them over. Vocalist Dan Kenny immediately jumps into the crowd, where he spends the majority of the set, while the rest of the band attack the crowd with chaotic, southern rock influenced, hardcore.

In between their short, sharp blasts they’re self deprecating, pushing the crowd more by pretending they don’t give a shit. The whole set moves towards the weird and wonderful, as Dan gets an audience member to hold his mike while he plays the mouth organ before breaking into a brilliantly dark and slowed down track, and then spends the remaining time climbing across the venue, grabbing audience members and inciting pits, before him and guitarist Jack grab a mike each and scream their way through a monstrous breakdown at the end. Without a doubt the band that people will be talking about at the end.

After that the excitement is at fever pitch for the headliners, trancecore boys Tears of Isharra, who come on stage to a rapturous response and soon get the crowd moving with a brilliant dance beat. Then it all goes downhill, leave your brain at the door as all that’s on offer is beatdowns galore. Chris Ball’s weak screams are taken straight from Bring Me the Horizon’s latest album, and the odd recent roar can’t make up for this.

Like Below the Depths they suffer from a terrible sound, leaving the already unimpressive set sounding like a distorted mess. Each song is rendered into a wall of noise where the discernable parts are when the overused breakdowns move into overused two step passages, and while this doesn’t stop the crowd for the most part, by the end both the band and the crowd seem drained.

Surprisingly, considering they could have been playing covers all night and it would have been hard to tell, the only actual cover is towards the end of the night and they go on to slaughter Mr. Highway’s Thinking About the End by A Day to Remember. It’s a brutally disappointing set from a band that had been built up all night by an over excitable crowd, and while it might not stop the crowd moving, it is a musical fatality to the night.

Hollywood Tease / Betrayal / The Innocent Kill @ The Underground Friday 11th February 2011

Review by Jake Carter

Photo by Martin Kaluza

I knew that reviewing last night’s gig at the Underground would be a little different than usual for me. I’m not really into heavy rock, or metal or however you want to label it, and I haven’t listened to or heard these bands before. So, with that being said, I decided that the best thing would be to turn up with an open mind and let the night’s music corrupt my innocent little brain.

The Innocent Kill were a great start to the night and certainly know how to demand everybody’s attention. They were solid and the singer was fantastic; whilst screaming down the mic I thought if Axl Rose was from Stoke, maybe, just maybe this is how he would sound. The use of a megaphone also provided a lovely touch and added to the dynamics of the music quite nicely. This is the kind of band you need to get a good gig off the ground, with every member competently playing their part. I’d like to see this newish band move up the musical ranks a little more, as they’re certainly tight enough to do so.

Next up were Betrayal who were a little less cheerful than their predecessors and the sound was more or less a constant drone. I found my attention wondering off to other places during their set and I think I just stared at the wall, or the floor, or maybe it was the band after all I was looking at. Either way, it wouldn’t have made much difference to be honest and the highlight of their set was a cover of Slipknot’s ‘Duality’, which was alright. I appreciate that some people like finding themselves in a loud hazy state, but for me Betrayal didn’t do enough to keep me focused on their performance.

Now then, like I mentioned earlier I decided to go last night’s gig with an open mind considering this kind of music doesn’t usually tickle my fancy, and I didn’t really know how I’d be left feeling if I’m honest. But, as soon as I heard Samuel L Jackson’s “The path of the righteous man” speech from Pulp Fiction crackling over the speakers, I knew Hollywood Tease were going to make my night.

Right from the very first song these boys were in your face demanding your attention, whether it was from the way they looked, the way they sounded or the way every member totally owned the stage, stomping around pushing themselves and their instruments as far as they possibly could. This is how bands should be. This is how bands should work. It doesn’t matter what genre you’re into: a band with this much vigour sets the bar for everyone.

Obviously, stage presence is a big part of Hollywood Tease, but it takes more than just stage presence to provide a great show. Luckily for us they know their way around their instruments too. Each member provided his own distinct and essential part to the sound and singer, Ashe Masters, has one hell of a voice; no muffling or pops, just pure power cutting above the mix which was especially apparent on ‘Let Go’.

It was great to see such a powerful and exhilarating performance from a band, and to see the members feeding from each other’s gleaming energy. It was also great to experience one of the most amazing mid-set drum solos ever. I mean, I was impressed with the drum solo anyway, but halfway through the drummer’s owner seemed to seamlessly change, with the original solo starter standing next to the kit whilst another member carried on banging the drums. How? I don’t know. I was confused. Very confused.

The sound and performance that came from Hollywood Tease last night was non other than top notch. The atmosphere at the Underground was good and I doubt there was anybody in there who wasn’t excited by their blistering sound. Even for the non-rock/metal heads out there, I’d recommend this band, and as for the actual metal heads, well, you have no excuse. Drop by next time they’re around.

Final verdict: brain corrupted.

Monday, 7 February 2011

Tom Lockett / Fools Paradise / The Lamps Expire / Vellocet @ The Underground 5th February 2011

Review by John West

Photo by Martin Kaluza

It’s another cold blustery night as I make my way down to the venue. Last week it was Jack Frost who was biting at my feet, tonight it’s Hurricane Hanley who whips up a storm around the city centre twirling the debris amongst the night time revellers. The Underground is buzzing and very full as Tom Lockett and accompanying guitarist Nick Simpson were on stage tonight. Tom did a good job of warming the crowd but came across as being rather apologetic at times stating that a full band will be with him next time, no need Tom you did well. His sound was something akin to the now defunct cult band The Chameleons but with a hint of John Otway on vocals. I’d be interested to see how the new band will develop particularly liking ‘I’m a psycho’ with its swampy reverb effect which would certainly come to the fore with a full band.

Next up are Fools Paradise who take to the stage with swagger as they jam out an interesting intro acknowledgin
g each other across the stage. Front man Rob Deacon coolly announces that “we’re Fools Paradise” as they surge into a set which offers more than I expected. Yes there is an Oasis aura about their sound but they have the ability to transform this and take it further, I ‘m particularly impressed by young guitarist Brad Mills who has an ability to evoke a number of indie guitar heroes. Their sound filled the venue and was received extremely well by the crowd which was more diverse than usual. I was really impressed by ‘No such thing as twilight?’ if that’s the title, with its wah wah guitar effects. Rob appeared very confident as he switched from rhythm to tambourine a la Liam raising it above his head getting into his groove. Their last song of the night ‘No salvation’ had a punkier edge about it and if the band can perhaps bring more of these influences to the fore their sound will develop, just mix it up more and see what happens lads; as I’m sure the Pistols and the Stooges are in their somewhere.

It seemed that there were great expectations for The Lamps Expire who were making there debut here tonight. They comprise vocalist Jamie Gordon and drummer Andrew Shaw (formerly of Alfa 9) guitarist Jim Mould, bassist Mark Norcup. Hitting the stage they take the audience to another level with a violin led intro ‘Calendar’ with the flamboyant playing of Gareth Copeland. I immediately think of the Gang of Four meeting the Velvet Underground with a psychedelic dance twist as they weave their sound. I hear the influence of John Cale with an injection and interplay of sound and technicolour. ‘Wedding gown’ is quite mesmerising with the violin, guitars and keyboard weaving together creating a kaleidoscopic wall of sound with its funk driven almost avante garde soundscape.

This band have been three years in the making and tonight they did not fail to impress, and from the murmurings it was heard that their were comparisons to Arcade Fire and a nod to Interpol, fair praise indeed to giving them a modern twist on the influence front. With their musical virtuosity they continued with ‘Glorious’ and set finale ‘Pull’. The Lamps Expire are certainly one for Stoke music fans to be keeping their eyes and ears on in the future. They are dynamic stuff indeed and may need a couple of listens to fully appreciate them, therefore I would urge you to keep their light burning.

Before Vellocet take to the stage I manage to grab a few moments with vocalist Ryan Barker. He’s as impressed with the Lamps as I was, finding their set inspiring, uplifting and creative. He’s extremely sincere and genuine in this appraisal tonight. “What the fuck was that about?” simply mind blowing we both concur. I comment that he’s seems really fired up tonight and he confides that something has got to him earlier. He is passionate about his band; they’re a gang fighting against the odds, think The Roses and Primal Scream - true rock ’n’ roll musical pirates. Rock ‘n’ Roll was originally the outsider so let’s not forget that people.

As they take to the stage with the epic intro of 'Animals' Mr Barker shuffles, messing up his hair as if to blow away the cobwebs. There is the implication that they’re going to take you on a journey, be with us be part of it, don’t just talk amongst yourselves. The audience welcomes their hero’s, and he hits his stride in ‘Messiah’ oozing confidence, urging the band forward with their tribal, rhythmic and hypnotic pulse. The audience enthusiastically lap this up, welcoming the band as they begin the year with their first headliner.

Prior to the announcement of a new song ‘Keep dreaming’ he plugs a Douglas Macmillan benefit gig Vellocet are doing on 25th February along with a new band called O.K. Corral, just up the road at Fat Cat (a bit of free advertising never goes amiss). Said song is about the coalition government getting the rich richer and the poor poorer. The synth led ‘Set us free’ features a pulsing rhythm from bassist Lew Wilson and a primary vocal from rhythm guitarist Jordan Gifford. Throughout the set there is evocative guitar playing from Ash Simpson as he conjures up his hypnotic spacey riffs taking the band into the inner consciousness of the listener. There are new songs to be played tonight which is a treat for those who have seen Vellocet before, as is the imminent release of material.

The eastern tinged ‘Suicide Eyes’ with its raga feel certainly impressed me and showed just how far the band are developing their sound soaking up a number of influences, reinterpreting and making them their own. There’s some heavy rock ‘n’ roll in the form of ‘Riverside’ and as they bring the night to a close Ryan urges the crowd to “have a fuckin dance” as they conclude their set with ‘K.I.L.L.’ which has a MC5 feel about it; very much in your face and assaulting the senses.
It’s been a great night for music tonight and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Each band had something to the offer the audience, and whoever you came for I hope you had a great night too.

Postscript; as I finish this I’ve just heard that the legendary ex Thin Lizzy guitarist Gary Moore has died. R.I.P Gary you were a terrific rock/blues guitarist you will be sadly missed by fans and guitarists alike.

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Devil Sold His Soul / Feed the Rhino / Betrayal within the Ranks @ The Sugarmill 4th February 2011

Review by James Winter Samuel

Photo by Kevin Percival

I walk in halfway through Betrayal within the Ranks set of sub-standard metal-core fare that about 1000 bands are doing right now, and immediately I can tell that these guys have just listened to their favourite As I Lay Dying album and just regurgitated it out in their own Stoke style! I can cut them slack because they are all about 16 and are trying their best, clearly enjoying being onstage and playing before a sizeable crowd. They are tight and technically gifted but I was just wishing they had more originality. I’ll put that down to youth and finding their feet. In two – three years time these guys will probably be well worth checking out, and if you like your tech metal-core, please do so!

If it was five or six years ago when the UK underground metal scene was alive and the healthy beast that it was back then, Feed the Rhino would be as big as Gallows are now. Unfortunately, the scene has stagnated somewhat, leaving bands like FTR to forge their own path and take charge of a new breed of promising underground bands. An excellent combination of high and mid tempo hardcore with a heavy dose of bruising powerful riffs and passionate vocals. To sum it up, they do exactly what it says on their flyer, “crushing, balls out rock and roll hardcore.” I cannot put it better than that really. Brilliant stuff!!

Coming on to the soundtrack from Inception, Devil Sold His Soul start with the usual slow, drawn out build up before kicking into the most epic of riffs. This is heavy stuff but not in the way that Feed the Rhino bulldoze you over, more like being swept along in a stream of massive riffola. The set is tight and their reputation for impeccable live shows certainly holds true tonight. When they veer off into ambient territory, the parts are interesting and didn’t linger around too long because those huge riffs that they seem to do so well were just around the corner. The lead singers vocals ranged from throat shredding cookie monster to impressive clean sung in the blink of an eye and all this whilst the band are throwing themselves around the stage like some progressive hardcore Nureyev’s! All in all, a good show, and a show that proves that the UK underground metal scene is still alive and kicking.

Thursday, 3 February 2011

The Vaccines @ The Sugarmill 1st February 2011

Review by Sian Eardley

Photo by Tish Scripps

‘Hey- Ho! Vacc-ines!’ The powerful London pop-punk rockers certainly raised the bar last night at The Sugarmill, living up to the title of Britain’s music pioneers for the sound of 2011 – tipped by radio one’s Zane Lowe and Fearne Cotton. Their performance transcended a multitude of reasons why, which led me to the definite conclusion that I would have no problem whatsoever if they were to carry the torch for this side of the Atlantic’s alternatives music. Saying that, they resonate the air of coolness of the early days of Julian Casablancas’ gang, the forlorn yet fascinating longing of Interpol’s Paul Banks’ vocals, and lie in the same exciting league of America’s ‘Mona’, for breaking new ground in sound, whilst holding the same punk heart of The Ramones. Tonight, music lovers and Sugarmill virgins alike, were aghast as to how polished their sound was, they’re clearly not just mucking about nor in it for the money and image, but the pure soul and revelry.

Their infectious bass punching sound got those feet-a-going and pit-a-thriving, from the very first strum to the very last drum kick, a truly vigorous set without the lethargic lag that often follows the big numbers thrown out first by so many bands, but The Vaccines exhumed more energy than a night of red bull, followed by morning caffeine, and pro-plus top-ups. Highlights included The opener ‘Wreckin Bar (Ra Ra Ra)’, a miniscule length of excellence, to be compared to the feel-good, shout out vibes of The Ramones, or Dog’s “London Bridge’, mixed with the cool front of Best Coast, along with ‘If you Wanna’ and ‘Post Break-up Sex’.

I expected it to be good, but not this good; nor did many others, but it was understandably a well-deserved full house night. Not being able to move for bodies on the dance floor or the balconies, peering through the arms and legs of the young flesh tonight just to get a glimpse of this smokin’ foursome, made it all the more sweet. This was as close to perfection as the Sugarmill has seen for a long time, even more luscious than the Joy Formidable’s NME visit last year, and I’m pretty sure the band must have swooned off stage knowing it.

Stellar sound, delectable vocals and upbeat tunes; not heavy or sad or completely off-the-chain, but taking us forward in our times, they would get a pretty solid 9/10 for their performance. Imagine how fresh, invigorating, and prevailing those four Liverpudlian lads playing to The Cavern crowds must have come across; well The Vaccines are putting such musical motions in force for 2011. Superb.

The only things and I mean the only things that could have improved this soaring night into one of absolute bliss, was: A) if I could have picked up a copy of their album to enjoy all night long, to carry on my sonic high (yet we can’t get our mitts on it until March 31st!), and B) an encore. But…that’s not always a bad thing – The Vaccines definitely left their Stoke crowd in want of more ;).

Check out tunes 'Post break-up sex' for lovers of Interpol and 'Slow Hands' and 'Wreckin bar (ra ra ra)' to get you moving!