Category: Concert Reviews

Gig Review: Doyle / The Dead XIII / Ward XVI – The Lounge, London, 7/4/18

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Opening tonight’s show are Ward XVI, an enthusiastic theatrical/folk-metal bunch. Their lead singer braves the early crowd and manages to get a line of people dancing a jig mid-set, and one gets the feeling they’re here to enjoy themselves. Though their presence doesn’t quite fill the decent sized venue, they give a determined first performance.

Now we’re all in the swing of things, The Dead XIII stride onto the stage, bringing with them a foreboding air. Painted faces loom over us in the darkened room. Their selection of gloomy-yet-synthy horror metal tracks buzz through the venue, sepulchral vocals backed by menacing guitars. The room abounds with wild hair flying in all directions. They get the energy flowing and successfully achieve their self-proclaimed target of preparing everyone for tonight’s headliners.

Doyle are our grand finale tonight, but unfortunately they’re not quite as, well, grand as one would expect. There’s no denying that the band is made up of talented musicians who put energy into their performance, but considering they have been through various incarnations to get here they lack a definitive sound – instead they fluctuate from generic metal, to Rob Zombie, to Pantera-tribute-band. There isn’t even a coherent style to their appearance, sort of like they all turned up for a different party. The crowd manage a decent level of enthusiasm, though it could have been infinitely more had lead singer Alex Story not absent-mindedly mumbled the words “this is a love song, you can dance if you want to” before every single song. Despite this the set is an entertaining one, though probably not for all of the right reasons.

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Gig Review: Halflives / Finding Kate / Elswhere – London, 9/1/2018

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After a literally string-breaking warm-up, local band Elswhere embark upon an absorbing opening set, showcasing their very own brand of alternative-rock with flares of influences as diverse as metal, pop-punk and hip-hop. Vocals range from rapping, to melodic singing, to screaming; it seems there is nothing that this band won’t turn their hand to. Many would falter under such a wide-ranging repertoire but it works for them. They even produce a cover of Post Malone’s Rockstar and manage to make it sound like a half-decent song. They set the bar high for the rest of the bands; and certainly aren’t matched in terms of unique style.

Melodic metal follow-up Finding Kate take the stage to a large crowd, and please them with a fairly energetic set full of long, drawn-out, powerful vocal notes and heavy guitar/drum mixes. Their style does seem to be quite confined within their genre and some of the songs do have the unfortunate quality of blending into each other. However, they are certainly accomplished at what they do and their set is definitely entertaining.

Headliners Halflives bring a more pop-rock feel to the night; with the calming quality of singer Linda’s voice giving it a stand-out quality which it may otherwise have lacked. They instil the most life into the room, getting the crowd to clap, sing, jump along and call for an en-core. Two cover songs – MCR’s Welcome To The Black Parade and 30STM’s The Kill – fall flat, being frankly an odd choice considering that both songs are so well-loved that any attempt to cover them would not be adequate. Overall, an enjoyable set, but definitely better when they stick to their own songs.

Elswhere: 8/10. Finding Kate: 7/10. Halflives: 7.5/10.

Gig Review: Vexxes / Dream State / The Guts / Brightlight City – London, 21/01/2017

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Kicking things off at the Crowndale tonight are alternative rock group Brightlight City. Their set is certainly better than one expects from the opening band of a small gig – that is, when their instruments are working at least. It does feel like they need to develop their style into something more unique, as it does not produce anything striking enough to stick in the mind. They certainly demonstrate clear talent though; we look forward to seeing them develop.

Second to take the stage are The Guts, and one could not fail to notice their set. Two of their members take to the floor, constantly moving, jumping on sofas, knocking microphone stands over. Their style matches their actions; it could be quite accurately described as something like Korn mixed with System Of A Down on speed. Their vigour is impressive, but could make things seem a bit haphazard at times. It’s not altogether clear who the lead singer is, and feels a little like anyone who can scream is given a microphone – with three of them going simultaneously at times. The performance is certainly memorable, and appears to appeal to their niche in the crowd.

Playing their first set in London tonight are Welsh female-fronted post-hardcore band Dream State. They instantly have a noticeable amount of stage presence. Lead singer Charlotte puts enough energy into her performance to draw the attention of the crowd without being overpowering. Her powerful harsh vocals are striking, and are well matched with equally talented backing vocalist Sam. The crowd give an increasingly enthusiastic reaction after every song played, with some standout ones being Rebuild, Recreate and Relentless. We certainly hope to see them return to London again.

Headlining are Leeds alt/pop-rock band Vexxes, who are making the round trip to London and back in one day just to play this show. Their sound is more relaxed than the previous bands, making for a nice variety in tempo throughout the night. They could perhaps do with a little more enthusiasm in their movements – when lead singer Tom enters the crowd it feels a little more like he is aimlessly wandering around the room – but their overall set is pleasing. They produce some catchy hooks and intricate riffs from songs such as Everything I’ve Ever Known and Lead Us Home. Plus we certainly approve of any band whose merchandise stall has a banner saying ‘Fuck Trump’.

Gig Review: Nightlife, Cavalier, Never Hill, Photo Finish, Our Lives In Cinema – London, 17/01/2017

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Opening up the show at Surya tonight are Our Lives In Cinema, a local pop-punk band with a little more emphasis on the punk. They burst onto the stage, their set a fast-paced blur of guitar riffs which gives some life to the room. They are followed by Photo Finish, overflowing with pop-punk vibes which they even manage to confer onto a Katy Perry cover. Their performance is certainly entertaining – feeling more like a comedy show at times – and they seem to have fun being on stage. Both opening bands could do with refining their sound, as they do not have anything distinctly unique to offer as yet. They are, however, perfectly acceptable as a start to the night.

Next up are Never Hill, bringing with them a more pop-rock sound, a massive pink banner and a singer who definitely prefers being on the floor to the stage. They appear to have a few fans in the crowd, and despite the venue’s sound sometimes drowning out the vocals a little they produced some songs which get the crowd moving. Most notable was final track Caffeine, particularly memorable and catchy.

Melodic rock band Cavalier take the stage as the penultimate act. Their set produces the most variety of the night, managing to move expertly from emotional songs such as Sedative to livelier tracks like Come Home, which ends their performance. Singer Jamie is another frontman keen to spend time down with the crowd rather than on stage, and manages to get the crowd jumping in the air along with him as well as screaming the words. They could easily have headlined the night.

Rounding off the show are Nightlife, with a mature, grunge rock sound. They bring a more restrained feel to their set, not producing the energy of the previous band but instead focusing on their music. Again the vocals could be a little drowned out by the instruments, something out of the band’s control, but they manage to successfully showcase a range of old and new songs, including For the Record and not-yet-released Salt and Acid from their forthcoming EP of the same name. The crowd appear to appreciate the tracks, bringing a satisfying close to the night.

Gig Review: William Control / As Sirens Fall / Orpheum – The Crowndale, London, 16/09/2016

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[Photo credit: Donna Coombs]

The penultimate night of William Control’s UK tour sees him return to London, after having already played here a week ago in Club Antichrist. Due to doors opening 40 minutes late everyone is a little cold and miserable once they finally make it inside, but local band Orpheum certainly manage to liven them up again. Despite only receiving a lukewarm welcome upon beginning their set, their female-fronted operatic metal soon catches the attention of the crowd, with those who were reluctant to clap along at the beginning cheering them by the end. Unfortunately the vocals are often drowned out a little by the music, a sound problem rather than anything to do with the band themselves, yet they deal with this as well as they can, putting more power into the vocals and managing to give everyone a set which is certainly worth turning up early for.

[Photo credit: Donna Coombs]

Following this are As Sirens Fall, a five-piece alternative band all the way from Leeds, who are filling the support slot for a number of dates on this tour. Their set is instantly a hit with the crowd, a fair number of whom appear to already be fans. Most of the songs performed are from their recently released EP The Hospital Party, all of which are appreciated by the audience. Singer Mikey’s vocals vary from clean melodic tones to unexpected harsher notes for an excellent effect, whilst the driving drum beat and catchy melody hook the audience. They are clearly passionate about their performance but do not seem overly serious, giving the impression that they are genuinely enjoying being on stage. Their fun spirit filters into the crowd, who are allowed to name (temporarily, at least) one of the two new, unreleased songs they perform. They decide to go with the questionable choice of naming it ‘Pontins’, with the band remarking that it will always be named that in their hearts from now on, though not in their album. It seems certain that any of the crowd who hadn’t heard of As Sirens Fall before tonight will surely want to now.

[Photo credit: Donna Coombs]

In the short gap before the final set, the crowd soon fills out considerably. After the rest of the band enter the stage William emerges, like a true goth frontman clothed all in black – black shirt, black trousers, black jacket, even black sunglasses – and a cheer goes up throughout the room. They open with the song everyone has surely been most excited to hear tonight, recently released single ‘The Monster’. This immediately gets everyone moving. Some technical difficulties occur straight away, the microphone producing some rather odd sounds or sometimes no sound at all, but these soon improve after Ashestoangels frontman Crilly – who’s accompanying William on this tour despite not playing – dashes across the stage to sort things out. However even William notes that the technical difficulties are doing nothing to dampen the enthusiasm of the crowd. A few other new songs from upcoming The Pale EP get aired, such as ‘Confess’ and ‘Mother Superior’ which receive enthusiastic approval from the crowd, but there’s also many of the old favourites, including ‘Kiss Me Judas’, ‘Beautiful Loser’ and ‘Passengers’. As always, William often encourages the crowd to “Scream for me!”, a command which they do, of course, obey, with growing fervour. He even jumps in the crowd himself for a while to raise excitement levels even further. Ultimately, despite a decent length set list, the show feels all too short as he comes to his two final songs. The disappointment is lessened, however, with the announcement that he’ll be back touring the UK again in March next year. ‘Razors Edge’ and ‘I’m Only Human Sometimes’ conclude the night, sending the audience into one final frenzy.

Check out the latest William Control single ‘The Monster’ below. The Pale EP is being released on 16th October but is available to preorder now on iTunes and controlmerch.com.

Gig Review: TrueHeights – Leeds, 03/07/2016

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TrueHeights end their run of headline shows tonight in Bad Apples rock bar in Leeds. The room is small, cramped and humid, but these features certainly give it atmosphere. Three local acts kick off the show; solo artist Ben Bickley, alternative indie band Pacific Blue, and indie rock group Purple Thread all do a decent job of preparing the room for the main bands. Nineteen Fifty Eight have joined TrueHeights for this whole tour, and it is clear to see that their styles of music fit well together. Their female fronted alternative rock is appealing, catchy and well mixed. Mention of their EP turning a year old today gains some interest, and they seem comfortable playing and talking to the crowd. They definitely make more of an impression than expected.
After a meticulous set up to ensure the mixing is perfect, melodic rock band TrueHeights begin their dramatic performance. The room is instantly awash with energy and enthusiasm in a way that few bands can manage in such a small venue. Songs such as Don’t Look Down, Stay and Frank get fans singing, clapping and jumping along, and Zakk’s singing is excellent despite him feeling under the weather. Each member of the band puts on their own spectacular performance, full of passion and vigour which is highlighted with striking lighting. Near the end the rest of the band get the audience to join them in singing happy birthday to Zakk, who turns 24 today. It is easy to see how well they all get on with each other. TrueHeights consistently create an amazing live atmosphere, through both their music and performance. They suit being a headline band, they shine on stage, and they are certainly deserving of a much bigger stage and a much bigger crowd. We highly recommend seeing them live, check out their latest release below.

Gig Review: IAMX – Manchester, 15/06/2016

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The Gorilla venue in Manchester is packed full of people tonight, all eagerly anticipating the first of three UK shows on successive days by experimental electronic project IAMX. Despite the unusual phenomenon of there being no support acts to warm the crowd up, there is nevertheless a distinct feeling of excitement filtering through the room. The smoky air makes the four illuminated letters above the stage spelling out ‘IAMX’ vividly stand out, a nice atmospheric touch even before the show has begun.
Chris Corner enters the stage, hooded, clad all in black, his face sparkling, getting an instant cheer from the crowd. He is accompanied on stage by Sammi Doll (keys/back-up vocals) and Janine Gezang (keys/bass/back-up vocals), both dressed in figure hugging lace body suits and theatrical make up. All three visibly put their all into the performance, delivering a sweaty, sexy, passionate, theatrical show. Their excellent set showcases many songs from 2015 album Metanoia, including Insomnia, Happiness, No Maker Made Me and North Star. Alongside these a few older well-loved tracks such as Spit It Out are performed. These are vocally impressive, and certainly get the crowd immersed in the music. Though this is definitely a show which is as much about the visual performance as the music. Strobed and coloured lighting along with four screens displaying visual effects add drama to a performance which already brings plenty of its own. Chris moves around the stage a lot, whilst Sammi and Janine are extremely lively, constantly jumping up and down. All interact with the crowd and encourage them in their ever increasing fervour. It’s certainly not a performance which can be forgotten in a hurry. By the time we near the end, even after an encore which sees the night ending with an impressive rendition of I Am Terrified, the show feels all too short. Seeing IAMX live is highly recommended. Their next UK show is in London in October.