Friday, 2 November 2012

Demon @ The Green Star 1st November 2012

Review by Andy Law

After 30 years in the business and having influenced everyone from Metallica to Hammerfall, frontman Dave Hill has more than a few Demon stories to tell. Demon have been busy chaps recently; whether tearing it up at festivals in Germany (Bang Yer Head) or, writing a theme tune for Sweden Rock (Fill Your Head With Rock), besides releasing new album Unbroken, the quintet have also experienced several pivotal line up changes.
Talented ex guitarist Ray Walmsley has returned on bass to replace Andy Dale; elsewhere, shredmeister general (guitarist) backing vocalist Paul Hume has stepped in on the other guitar alongside the flamboyant Dave Cotterill, and its an inspired move. Clear the floor - the areas finest twin guitar partnership have just landed...
Besides his gifted musical talents, (Paul Hume) has has also produced Demon's new album at Summerbank Studios, Tunstall, giving it the classic Demon sound with a more modern edge. Finally, keyboardist Karl Waye has replaced Paul Farrington. Opening with Wonderland and ripping through heavyweight after heavyweight, Leek's finest are clearly in unstoppable mood. The Plague burns with a sinster, Sabbath-esque fire before breaking out into Bat Out Of Hell esque intro solos and Led Zep shades; Life On The Wire offers a shining chorus hook with mindblowing guitarwork; and further sonic treats include Blackheath, Sign Of A Madman, Under The Spell and Remembrance Day.
In terms of the newer material, there's Better The Devil You Know album standout Standing On The Edge Of The World. From latus opus Unbroken, we get the anthemic Fill Your Head With Rock; I Still Believe meanwhile, brims with passion ('Its my religion, its my life, I still believe, I still believe, that rock will rule the world...'), a Man-o-war style rock ballad if ever there was one!
Finishing the set with Night Of The Demon and Don't Break The Circle, its a jaw dropping close. Fantastic musicianship - from head thudding drums (forming a solid partnership with Ray Walmsley's bass) dazzling twin guitar harmonies and tear it up solos make for a stirring display. Dave Hill inspires on many fronts; showing off great melodies, superb songwriting and plenty of onstage charisma. Although his vocals aren't as prominent as they used to be, he proves beyond all doubt that high range is not the be all and end all where good songwriting is concerned. The band also demonstrate a terrific awareness of the need for strong backing vocals, often turning up three part harmonies or octaves. In plain English, jolly good musicianship - and the overloaded Green Star couldn't get enough. So let's cut to the chase. Slash, Motorhead and yes, Demon - a cut above.

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Dry the River / Camp Stag / Arcane Roots @ The Sugarmill 29th October 2012

Review by Andy Law

Outside of exceptionally talented guitarist/lead vocalist Andrew Groves' exceptional bad luck with snapping guitar strings (Halloween blues, maybe?), Arcane Roots sweep out any such technical cobwebs with a high octane, energetic stage show.
If tonight's evidence is anything to go by, progressive is the new cool in alternative rock these days; healthy, in the interests of continually re-energizing this vital and cutting edge genre (and of course, keeping Radio 1 happy). Vocally, Arcane Roots mix it up between falsetto, screams and lung piercing notes really rather well, while musically they particularly impress on the broken down, slower numbers, bringing so much more substance out of the band.
Mega melodies, beautiful tunage and beefier choruses are all the end product of this change in tempo. Call it standard melody, if you like, but it works - it always has and always will. Outside of this, and the impressive backing vocals, subtle virtuoso guitar breaks (note the Van Halen esque tapping on several tunes) and the Arcane Roots formula of aggression meets progression sadly doesn't really mark any new territory on a highly populated scene. Currently working on an album and sure to be stars on Radio 1 with single Resolve, success may already be guaranteed, but to these ears the bands greater strength has yet to be fully realized.     

Serving up luscious vocals with pretty, progressive rhythms and seismic bass grooves, Camp Stag open things up with a warming twist. 'Ultimate chilling music' volume 5 meets with enough dynamic shifts to get the foot tapping, while hammond organs are as at home as a candyfloss at a fare.
Walking With Broken Bones is a particularly inspiring effort, as painstakingly impressive as the title, and with a mouthwatering chorus hook, single Sirens is the one you simply can't ignore. To such a point, it prompted The Fortunas (on Sound cloud) to brand it 'the best track by a local band for months';  although a bit like the trademark red swimsuit without Yasmin Bleeth, it leaves you wanting more than the bare three minutes on offer... 
The e.p. title track When the lights come down throws an atmospheric guitar solo into the mix, the final flourish adding to a set where you can't help but admire the textures this band creates and the effortless vocals that lead the way.
For the fans out there the set list was Matilda Please / Walking With Broken Bones / Northern Dream / Call It The Flame Sirens / When The Light Comes Down

On route via an epically dodgy 80's intro theme music, pushing us to a close are the venue filling Dry The River. With no less than six band members - including a violinist, twin guitars and keys - Dry the River are one of the most strictly musical bands these ears have heard in years. Three part vocal harmonies are full of folk vibes, violins flow indulgently into delightful acoustic guitars and choruses are often memorable. This is, of course, coupled with keyboards to pad the whole thing out and electric guitars to add to the musical maelstrom.
Perfect for a relaxed Summers evening or a log fire on a cold winters night, the bands onstage chemistry doesn't go unnoticed either; with more guitar changes than Gangem style single's sales and a bassist Scott Miller who screams 'metal band side project' with his constant poses, its as entertaining as it is enchanting. 
In the way of height, hair and even voice, singer/guitarist Pete Little bears an uncanny resemblance to Justin Hawkins - and although individually 99% falsetto free vocals would admittedly be better, collectively it works with the harmonies.  Such vocals can either be considered dated or timeless; besides the point, really, as what really counts is the songs, and on this front Dry The River are a joy. Additionally, any band who can drift seamlessly into performing with only three lonely voices and an acoustic mike free cannot fail to win your admiration.
So, there you have it - a band of authentic musicians, with real singing and real atmosphere, performing well written songs. If that doesn't get us all singing from the same hymn-sheet, little else will - and that's why, irrespective of what is flavour of the day or what genre it is, we live and love great music.      
If you'd like to treat your ears, then Shallow Bed (Acoustic) is out through RCA Victor via Digital Download 17th December 2012.

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Aaron Mobberly “Unison Harmonies” single release feat. Samuel Astley/Monster I Am/Marc O’Reily@ The Sugarmill, Saturday 15th 2012

Review by Pete Callaghan

Since Aaron Mobberly’s Commitment EP back in January I’ve been looking forward to hearing a bit more from him, and after seeing him about at various venues it got me all excited to hear he had a single release coming up at the ‘mill, even if I did keep getting the date mixed up. So I climbed aboard the ol’faithful, as she should rightfully be known (the 18 bus if you want to be accurate) and darkened the streets of Hanley with my presence once again.

I was little late for the first set by Sam Astley, who’s name I’ve heard banded about over the past couple years, but what I did manage catch I really enjoyed. The guy’s got such a powerful voice, at times I thought he didn’t really need mic’ing up but he’s able to bring it down to such a low, subtle level that shows real skill. It’s indicative of his vocal range and guitar playing that his songwriting was just as good. To underscore this point, he was able to make up a song off the cuff, which was both funny and very catchy. His last track “The Chip Shop Song” was particular good as he heckled the audience to sing along and was joined by friends, who he had previously sung about, who danced their way onto the stage in something that felt rehearsed and spontaneous at the same time. Great set from what I saw.

Next on to the ‘mills stage was Monster I Am who sang mostly ironic melancholy folk numbers. It was hard to decipher whether he sang about actual terrible experiences which had happened to him (like, whoever the girl was he lost, it sounded like she destroyed him) or that he was being satirical about the whole depressing folk scene. To be honest, I think it’s best to not dwell on such matters as it just abstracts itself away from the music so what I’ll write about how the good the tracks were. I enjoyed the Killers cover of “Mr Brightside” and the brilliantly titled “Hunting for Bitches” but “Talk Show Host” really made it for me; it was a gentle, ingenious song, clever and remorseful. Definitely hope he’ll being doing more gigs soon.

Luckily, as it was soon evident, Marc O’Reily decided to stop by Stoke-on-Trent as part of his six-week tour of England - luckily because it’s rare that you get to see someone with who is this good. O’Reily’s style of acoustic playing is unique: from sublime fret tapping, guitar drumming (which he could play at furious speeds) to brilliant blues picking, acoustic numbers. You can hear the passion in both his lyrics and his playing. His track “Foo” stood out as it wasn’t like the blues inspired technical playing I heard in his other tracks but completely soulful and authentic. To see him fully immersed in the moment is an incredible sight; I was utterly mesmerized watching him. He is a spectacular talent from Ireland and all I hope is that I’ll get to see him play live again some day.

Before the main event, we were treated to the debut of Mobberly’s video for “Unison Harmonies”. It’s really well shot, featuring some lovely landscape shots and, of course, the single which is brilliant by itself. Aaron then took to the stage and played a few solo tracks before being joined by Sam Bloor, Brad Malbon and Alexander Howick on lead guitar, drums and bass respectively. It’s the first time I’ve seen Aaron live with a backing band and honestly, I wasn’t sure it was going to work. Aaron’s vocals and chord work is just so special on its own that I thought that the full band setup might be too much live. Thankfully, I was completely wrong. It really gave a lot of emphasis to the tracks and how good the songwriting is. ‘Crayons’ and ‘Commitment’ sounded fantastic, as did ‘Looking for’ and it was nice to see the audience really showing a lot of support for some great music.

When Autumn comes around, I like to listen to folk. I don’t know why, the two just seem to go well together. Over the past couple of years it’s been Midlake’s ‘Trials of Van Occupypanther’ and Fleet Foxes’ debut album and usually some Nick Drake for good measure. But thanks to this gig and the release of ’Unison Harmonies’ I’ve got a lot of local and unsigned acts I can listen to that will fit my Autumn mood well.

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

A Page of Punk / Leif Ericsson / All the Best Tapes / Werewolves on Motorcycles @ The White Star, Stoke. 3rd August 2012.

Review by Robert Egan

For a small venue, the upstairs room of The White Star can be heard across the town centre which doesn’t bode well for my ear drums. I arrive to a pretty full venue with the first band Werewolves on Motorcycles pounding out their already sweat-laced set and I get a feeling that tonight is going to be something special. 

We have been featuring their track Dr. Love on the Stoke Sounds Radio show for some time and it is nice to be able to transcend the recording to the live experience. Werewolves are a powerful three-piece and all members eventually take turns on the vocals which gives a nice difference to their already varied songs. Being excellent musicians the band are impressively tight and the music seems to be a more traditional/pure punk sound one minute, then they hit you with a Doom laced edge the next. The sheer volume of the PA and Bass/guitar amps rocks the soul and I am cursing not bringing my earplugs for all of the right reasons! With an impromptu vocal performance from Dave Collins (Leif Ericsson guitarist/vox) for 2 tracks covering Ramones numbers, their set is heated up further, exacerbated by their animated stage presence and Animal-esque antics of the drummer. Before too long the set is finished and I am left wanting more; Werewolves will well be worth catching the next time…

Second band up tonight are  All the Best Tapes and to be honest, from an outfit that are not challenged in the age department as yet, I was not expecting the wall of sound that came crashing out of the system. The vocals are being screamed across it seems at ten times the normal volume and  it’s causing considerable damage to my already strained ears. 

The band have a layered sound which is at times quite mellow and at other times somewhat stomach wrenching. The drums come across clear and precise and the amp distortion is just enough to add suitable depth to the music without being overpowering. The sound is dynamic and thought through with a sincerity, which for a punk outfit really surprises me; it is a more accessible style of punk than you might be expecting with some interesting changes from loud to emotional content. Some tracks sound truly epic yet the vocals remain clearly defined in the mix, which considering the sheer level of the volume is quite impressive. 

The third band is The Leif Ericsson, who quickly settle into their set. It’s immediately apparent that they are tight and polished and seem well used to performing. The instruments and vocals come across clearly yet the distortion is just enough to give an edge. Leif want to take you on a musical cruise through their repertoire and as we sail through what seems like a few different genres, we ultimately arrive back to where they began, which interpret as punk with a more mainstream feel. The most appreciative crowd are enjoying their set and if the bands sweat levels are anything to go by; Leif Ericsson are utilising every joule in their performance.

Headlining tonight’s showcase is the Japanese band A Page of Punk. Now I must admit that if a band are going to take the time to come all the way across the world on a tour and pay Stoke a visit, the least we can do is go and see what they have to offer and from the opening track, I am in a bit of awe. Their sound is as loud as it is encompassing. It might be an often used sentence but the audience are going nuts for these guys and the band ride the wave of sentiment higher and higher, morphing from the front and into the crowd so that they are almost indiscernible. Page of Punk are certainly not going to conform to the ‘stage’ area nor the stereotype aesthetic of their genre; their front man Chiaki is decked out in a sparkling gold jacket and with lashings of eye shadow and slicked hair looks more a new romantic. He manages to keep most eyes on his antics as he gradually undresses to underwear whilst throwing himself around the room frantically. The music is tight and well played, loud and driven, energetic and yet playful at the same time. I like this band, they have the bravado and excitement to draws your attention and keep it firmly in the palms of their hands, until it’s all over and you wonder, what the hell just happened? Let’s hope that they come over more often…

Monday, 30 July 2012

Faux Feet EP Review

Review by Jake Carter
Faux Feet's latest EP is certainly worthy of your attention if you're a Stokie who doesn't mind spending a pound or three supporting local artists. Since home recording has become increasingly less expensive I don't think I'm the only person who's become a little tired of wading through a sea of mediocre releases trying to find a gem. For a mere three pounds I don't think you can go wrong with this release and the recording quality combined with decent tracks definitely leaves this self titled EP sounding above the rest around these streets.

Opening track Handlebars begins more like something you'd hear from Four Tet than Faux Feet. I'm quite the fan of dreary and bleeping intros, but for those who're not don't threat; it doesn't take long before we're back to the familiar sounds of Faux Feet that you'd expect if you'd ever had the chance of seeing them live. Obviously Sian's voice above glistening and sometimes distorted guitars is what makes Faux Feet what they are, but it definitely feels that from the very start of this EP they've upped their game and all aspects of their music has improved.

The next track Down has bright and clear verses which transcend into extremely catchy and quite epic choruses. It's a solid middle track which I think does a fantastic job of pulling the EP together and complimenting it's surrounding siblings. Something I value is a well thought out collection of songs which flow together throughout - and this is something immediately apparent on this EP. The last minute and a half have to be the best part of the track and if you're anything like me you'll be walking around singing "Down down down" after a few listens.

Sleep Paralysis is in my opinion the best track from the EP and I could also see many a gig being ended with this number. The first thing that hits you is the vocal processing which is present at various parts of the track. You have to give credit to the person who produced the track as there's currently much hate for processed vocals, however on this track they're spot on and in my opinion are what makes this song stand out. It helps of course that the lyrics on this track - and throughout the EP for that matter - sound like they've been worked on and not just thoughtlessly scribbled down to make ends meet.

Overall I think Faux Feet have done an excellent job with this EP. Three tracks long, easy to get into and most importantly after listening a few times I was left wanting more. I think as long as the quality remains, a future, longer release could be an even greater local success.

Friday, 27 July 2012

The Black Widows @ The Old Brown Jug 25th July 2012

Review by Robert Egan
It’s hot tonight and the Jug is no exception. The room is muggy and close; so understandably most of the patrons are taking the opportunity to sit outside in the beer garden…The problem is that the Black Widows are about to play and they want a crowd, cue one of the best teasers that I have seen; the group decide to venture outside and perform an impromptu acoustic set. Scott the frontman is up onto one of the tables doing what every good frontman should be doing & entertaining, as the back line (or those that can rather) add their various elements. This has the effect of quenching a little of the audience’s thirst and entice them just enough that when after a couple of tracks the band announce that they are live upstairs, a fair proportion decide to go follow.
Their opening track ‘Post Golden gate blues’ is loud and jumpy with an encouraging tempo leading well into the second track ‘Arkansas Sound’ which has an appropriate country root and more than noticeable Punk stem. I like how the main vocals have been taken on by the lead guitarist too which adds to the variety. The third track ‘Take the Gun’ has a Dire Straits backline sound but with a clash style evident from the front instruments. The lead guitar gives a piercing accompaniment sounding not too dissimilar to The Cribs at times.
When the Black Widows appeared on the Stoke Sounds radio recently they chatted about how they like to convey a story with their lyrics rather than just create a song for its own sake and this is evident in most of their repertoire, as we are invited to listen to the tales being spoken. ‘What might have been’ is the fourth track and one of the songs that they played live on the radio show, so it is nice to be able to listen to it in all of its live and amped glory. By the time of ‘My World’, which has a gorgeous lead intro and an interesting drum pattern, I am slightly entranced and I want to listen to the story just as much as I enjoy listening to the song itself. The lyrics are important and the music accompanies them, the guitar is sparse and accentuates the vocals rather than drowning them out and gradually the music drives further and further taking you with it to a climactic crescendo. If you like The Doors and Jim Morrison’s ability to take you on a journey, then you will get an idea of what I mean.
‘Dead like you’re alive’ is about a girl sitting in a cafĂ© and the seaside organ sound is evocative, as I visualise a picture, which I suppose is exactly the effect that the band wished. It is easy to hear a distinct Black Widows sound, but it’s hard to categorise them; country/blues with a hint of the late 60’s/early 70’s rock and punk for perhaps....?  Think the Velvet Underground without Reed or Nico, or the more modern Midlake, but on Prozac…Not that you should assume that this band are quiet or subtle in any way.
‘Turn and run’ has a guitar sound not dissimilar to Soundgarden’s, ‘Black hole sun’ in its uneasy effect and along with the bass notes, promotes a dystopian view as the title suggests. The music accentuates the vocals again and gradually the tempo increases taking us along for the ride, suddenly releasing the lead guitar with a lick you could race Formula 1 cars to. No sooner have I jotted those ideas down than they have just tripped the sound-o-meter for the venue and half of the instruments are cut off. This is just how good The Black Widows can’s not about keeping it low key, it’s about delivering a message with clarity and the minimum of distortion, whilst still possessing a volume enough to blow the venue’s trip switch.
Musically The Black Widows are tight and sound polished and professional; with a particular nod to the lead guitar, and Scott Francis’ vocals which have a slight transatlantic twang which I don’t normally go for, but it is slight and works well in this outfit. They seem possessed with a new spirit ready to take you on a shamanistic journey, and who knows, you may just emerge from the trance ready to heal your own tribe…

Sunday, 22 July 2012

The Situation presents Adam Atkinson / Suzie does it / The Blue Yellows @ The Foxlowe 21st July 2012

Review by Charlotte Lunt

This was only the second gig for Adam Atkinson, who was treating us to a set of his bluesy melancholia this evening. From early on it was clear he was playing to his friends and supporters who had come along as there were plenty of in-jokes and banter between them.

His optimistic lyrics and creative melodies show his potential as a writer, although he has chosen the route of being a frontman without a band rather than taking an acoustic pathway. This is betrayed at moments when it is not a massive leap of the imagination to envisage a full line up behind him both visually and musically, with the potential for intertwining backing vocals being very apparent. However he holds his own with a set comprising of his own compositions such as ‘Shining light’ and a couple of covers to boot.

Suzie does it, are a duo, who perform close harmonies and very tight playing. Throughout their set they perform tracks from their new EP, and also provide a generous sales and social media pitch, showcasing some really rather good guitar playing, and also some stunning vocals. They played a consistently strong set with hints of Country and Folk. This is clearly a duo who know they’ve got nothing to prove and who enjoy playing for the sake of it.

Just as the Blue Yellows take to the stage, in what seems like a per-arranged move, the room filled with a substantial audience, it looked like I wasn’t the only one anticipating a foot stomping set from Jonathan and Co. Opening with ‘Killing me’ a jaunty rock number which had a clear sense of humour lurking in the keyboard hooks, before moving to a more mellow number featuring the not often heard accordion, these guys really do pack a punch, with the song ‘Cry Cry Kill’ really echoing round the room and getting people off their chairs and onto the dance floor.

The thing about the Blue Yellows is that they’re not a one trick pony; each song is distinct and has its own personality, whilst maintaining a definitive Blue Yellows sound. Through a number of the tracks the melodies are punctuated with humour and light hearted keyboards as well as acerbic lyrics.

Hitting a more mellow note the audience were permitted a breather before they launched into Stoke Sounds favourite and championed ‘Summer anthem’ ‘No Tobacco, No Jesus’. Jon offered a curious explanation about the title involving missionaries and their converts (which to be fair I haven’t done justice to here) and with the crowd nodding like a flock of pigeons singing along, they all seemed like they were enjoying it too.

Monday, 9 July 2012

Breaking Satellites / My Vote of Confidence at The Sugarmill 6th July 2012

Review and photo by Robert Egan

Arriving to a darkened room with a generously sized crowd, My Vote of Confidence opened with a suitably inspiring intro which breaks into a driving rock number. It's immediately apparent that there seems to be a hint of the balladesque stadium rock from the mid/late 80's and early 90's here although not too much to be fair and as more and more crowd seem to be appearing from somewhere like moths to a flame; the question is, will they get burned or dance into the light? The answer is the latter.

The second track which begins with a Slash like guitar solo & pacey tempo. Their third number 'Holding Fast' changes the mood slightly as it holds within a darker & drier sounding menace than the preceding tracks and the guitarist/front man has a style, ability and experience to draw from than I would normally associate with a guy of his age. The drummer is certainly enjoying himself, providing such an amount of energy to the performance that I'm jealously wondering how he is able to play like that & not be dripping with sweat. 'Demons by Design' is a new track with a gorgeous bass line that winds around your ears as if tapping in to your body’s' rhythms. I have to say that I was left wondering where the grungy, heavily distorted guitar was; I’m tantalised & expecting it, but it doesn’t come; perhaps it's the mix levels tonight? Not that its absence detracts from the sound at all as this 3-piece are definitely whacking it out, just that in other bands with a similar sound, there's another guitar complimenting the bassline and providing a driving grind which I think would add effect-but that's my opinion.

'Hand Full of sugar' comes after an impromptu interaction from the singer with the crowd and they give thanks for the preceding band which is always nice to hear. Overall My Vote of Confidence are tight sounding and professional, the guitars are slick and imaginative, the drums are energetic and driving and the basslines are to die for, which given the volume of the Mill's sound system, could cause bodily dysfunction...I did note a lack of variety in their set however, but if you like indie/rock with a hint of grunge then you will get it more than enough if it. My Vote of Confidence are definitely worth catching, especially as they announced that their last Stoke gig was 12 months ago, the brevity of their appearances locally is surely a motivation to catch them when you can...

Headlining tonight's showcase is Breaking Satellites, by which time I was hanging around the balcony like a shadowy phantom, waiting to capture some images of their opening track. Instead we were greeted with a pre-record intro that shook the room if not the soul like 5.9 on the Richter scale. This band wants to make an impression & an entrance and by the time they emerge from the green room, the crowd are chomping at the bit.

I was caught on the tidal wave of the first two tracks 'Spilt Ink', 'Take Flight' as I certainly did not expect this kind of audible assault from them. With 5 members on the stage, they have a big sound and a big presence to go with it, people are hugging the stage like it is their last chance to get on to the evacuation ferry and holding on to the rails just as tightly. Their third track 'Bang Tidy' has the front man screaming out at an impressive larynx shattering level at times & although I can't hear him, the 2nd guitarist seems to be belting it out just as much on backing vox. Of particular note to me was the intricate & unusual drum pattern which gives a hint of their potential although at times it did sound as if there was a slight delay between the synchronisation of the rest of the members playing along with it; not that it was that noticeable to be fair.

There seemed to be some issue with equipment by this point & I was not surprised given the level at which it was coming out-I've seen bass amps on fire whilst being played a lot quieter! But the drummer filled the space with an impressive solo. The variety between tracks is of note and it is not easy to categorise them, especially as the front man announces that the next track is a 'slow depressing' one, which it certainly isn't. It does have a story however which seems quite dark & the singer's vox are gravelly at times; he definitely doesn't have a voice that you would expect for someone so young, nor do we have a lot of in Stoke, he sounded like a younger version of Translucid's front man-which is not a bad thing at all.

The crowd are certainly kept involved throughout the set & the front man engages with them at every opportunity which not a lot of bands do these days and it does seems to be appreciated. For me there's a little punk, a little emo maybe and a developed sound, which can be a little loose at times, but nothing that detracts from the enjoyment. An example is the new song '3/4' which as the name suggests, has a nice 3/4 timed intro which seamlessly develops into a 4/4 which I was massively impressed with and there is a sizeable amount of people dancing away, absorbing the energy. 'Nothing to Hurt You' has a high pitched guitar over a tom-driven drum beat & the singer is straight up onto the stage riser to entice the crowd further. Their encore 'Sleeping Alone' gave a fitting finale to their set and left everyone satisfied with the experience.

Breaking Satellites are young, energetic with a large sound. They already posses a quality repertoire and this hints at how good they could become as they develop musically.

Sunday, 27 May 2012

The Situation First Birthday all-dayer@ The Central Club, Leek 27th May 2012

Review by Charlotte Lunt
Photo by Robert Egan

There aren’t many things that could drag me to Leek of a sunny evening; however The Situation celebrating their first birthday with an all dayer has proved to be one of those things, at least for a couple of hours.

Arriving just in time to catch the last couple of songs from Cherry Lightening, I was honestly disappointed to see how few folks had made the effort to come down to the Central Club to support the event. But nevertheless this didn’t seem to have put the band off their stride as they finished their set with a high speed cover of The Wombats ‘Let’s dance to Joy Division’. This provided the opportunity to speak to one of the organisers, Simon Edwards, who was brimming with enthusiasm and clearly enjoying the evening.

He explained that The Situation run 2 monthly nights in Leek, usually hosted at the Foxlowe Arts Centre, and that over the year they’ve been able to spread their wings and have been attracting acts of great calibre not only from the local area, but also the wider environs.

The first full set I saw was from The Taskers, who did a stripped down session for the radio show earlier this month, so this proved to be an ideal opportunity to hear their ‘plugged in’ sound.  I wasn’t prepared for the rawness in both sound and delivery, and always liking it when a band surprises me, this was a good thing. Tearing through a set of clever melodies and syncopation that were coupled with prophesising and contemplative lyrics they provided a solid set of quality tuneage.

It’s refreshing to see a band that rely solely on the quality of their song writing rather than persona – perhaps this unassuming approach is because as a two piece they are quite exposed, with little to hide behind.
In addition to the Pearl Jam influences they cited on the show, I’m hearing a tad of Frank Black, and a trace of Eric Clapton amongst others, which in combination work well and provide a swath of different approaches and delivery from the band. My favourite song of the set was ‘Itch’- which features on their brand new album – full of juxtaposition, contradiction and friction, it keeps you on the edge of your seat like a good psychological thriller.

Next up were the recommended Gravity Dave, who started out on a set of solid rock. At this point I must confess that I was having reservations about them, that is until they threw out ‘Let’s pretend’, which tore along at a cracking pace with vocals and lead guitar challenging each other for the spotlight. Moving swiftly into ‘Romantic Comedy’ I’m more than pleasantly surprised as having judged this book by its cover, this was a more edgy, contemporary composition than I’d expected, so apologies to the band and hats off for keeping me on my toes.

I have to say that whilst this was not a visually dynamic performance, it was slick and they consistently delivered solid well crafted songs, and anyone who can write a song called ‘Cattle’, can’t be doing too much wrong in my book. The ‘Steps of Heathrow’ was reminiscent of the erstwhile Red Wedge movement in its social commentary and edginess, and that drew their set to a close.

Although, I was only able to stay for a short while, this showed that the hard work that The Situation are doing to bring quality artists to Leek, is paying off. I’d really recommend having a trip out to some of their forthcoming gigs – which having had a sneaky look at the rosta – will be well worth it.