Category: Concert Reviews

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.

Gig Review: Ashestoangels / Saint[the]Sinner / As Sirens Fall / Kill The Silence – The Key Club, Leeds, 23/04/2016

Ashestoangels return to The Key Club in Leeds tonight for the first time since playing there on tour with Aiden in January. Full of confidence after having just released their latest album ‘How To Bleed’ to a great reception from fans, despite an unfortunate mix up with track order, they are raring to go and eager to put on a great show. Each support band has a very distinct feel and some way of linking the band members together, making for an unusually memorable set from each.

First support band Kill The Silence are a post-hardcore quartet from Leeds. All of the members emerge in the same outfit, black shirts with white bow ties, perhaps not the most hardcore choice of get-up but it does give a nice sense of unison when they are on stage together and makes a refreshing change from the usual local support band rolling up in their favourite generic band shirts. Their music is quite heavy, and gets a few of the crowd nodding their heads along, though the vocals could perhaps have been a little clearer. Lead singer Jason is lively and full of enthusiasm, making for an entertaining start to the night. Some of the heavier guitar parts to their songs are particularly impressive, and tracks such as ‘Darling’ and ‘Get Out! Get Out!’ stand out. A great opening band with lots of potential.

Following this are As Sirens Fall, another fairly local band from Keighley, who have their band symbol branded on their jackets, another nice unifying touch. Their alternative rock sound is quite hard to get into for the first couple of songs, but this seems likely due to the mixing not being quite right rather than their music itself. The sound greatly improves as they go on and by the end is excellent and immersive. The band are all animated, and encourage a lot of crowd interaction; arm waving, clapping, and crouching down on the floor before leaping up again. Their last few songs, including ‘Lonely Tomorrows’ and ‘Smoke’ certainly sound the most impressive on the night. Another excellent choice of support band, whose spirit and liveliness certainly rubs off on the crowd in preparation for the next act.

Main support are melodic metalcore band Saint[the]Sinner, with their own brand of theatrical-yet-heavy sounding music, best described as what 2005 Panic! At The Disco would sound like if they turned hardcore. All six band members wear matching armbands with their logo on them, linking them all as one; a concept which is continued through their performance where they often move as one when the heavy breakdowns kick in. They barely stand still for a moment, giving the kind of visual performance which is impossible to turn away from. Both vocalists are excellent, with Luke’s screams and James’ clean vocals working in perfect harmony, though it would perhaps have been preferable for the clean vocals to be just a tad more audible.

They perform a selection of excellent songs mainly from their most recent album ‘Masquerades’. It is difficult to pick standout songs because all are of such high quality, but ‘Asylum’, ‘Left For Dead’ and ‘Set It Off’ are exceptional. Final song ‘Theatre of Broken Dreams’ sees them joined on stage by Ashestoangels’ vocalist Crilly for a somehow even more energetic set finale. They end dramatically collapsed to the floor, leaving the audience with the feeling of elation which follows such a gripping performance. A show worthy of the headline slot, meaning Ashestoangels have a big show to put on to follow them.

As ever, Ashestoangels start as they mean to go on; bounding about the stage, headbanging, jumping up and down, jumping up on things; though vocalist Crilly thankfully manages to resist his usual ceiling fixture swinging, as the pipes in the venue look particularly likely to give in if he tried. He does, however, do his customary falling over more times than we would care to guess. Their set includes many of the old favourites from their back catalogue, though has to miss a couple of the usual tracks now that they have new material to perform. Opener ‘Six Six Six’, along with ‘Bury Us In Black’ and ‘Dorian’ are all clearly loved by fans, causing much excitement among them. The really impressive songs of the night, however, are those from the new album which this tour is named after.

The improvement in Crilly’s voice which can be heard on the record is also clear in the live performance, especially during ‘Bound and Broken’. Standing out as the best part of the performance is latest single ‘Not In My Name’ which mixes the heavier aspects of their sound with passionate lyrics and an intense, dynamic performance. All of the band are clearly devoted to what they do and visibly thrive being on stage, producing the kind of engrossing show they have become known for. Final song ‘Wintervention’ is also popular, getting the best response of the night. Curses & Cures’ lead singer Ashy is pulled from the crowd to join them on stage for this song, and it is pleasing to see that the confidence and enthusiasm that was lacking in their own performance which we reviewed shines through when she is on stage with Ashestoangels. Despite performing a fairly long set, it feels all too short and the band leave the crowd forever wanting more. Though, knowing them, it should not be long until they come bursting back onto the stage with another tour.

Until then, check out all four bands who performed tonight below:

 

 

 

Gig Review: Griever Headline Show (+ The Dead XIII / Zephyr / Hiraeth) – O2 Academy 2, Islington, 13/04/2016

Islington’s O2 Academy 2 hosts the final date of Griever’s co-headline tour with The Dead XIII. After being impressed by the performances on the Leeds date of this tour (which we reviewed here) it will be interesting to see how both bands react to a larger, fuller venue, and a different stage order. This show certainly has a more professional feel, with all of the bands, including the two local supports, showing bountiful talent. All share the same heavy feel to their music but with different styles.

Both of the London based support bands only emerged in 2015, making their performances all the more impressive. Passion, confidence and stage presence are instantly recognisable in both, which creates a gripping show right from the start. Melodic hardcore band Hiraeth are first on, drawing a fair amount of people to the stage. Playing a number of tracks including last year’s single ‘Words to Echo’, they prove that they have mounds of potential. Second band Zephyr are a progressive metalcore outfit and also receive a good response from the crowd. Songs such as ‘Black Lustre’ demonstrate their skill and style. By the end of these two sets the atmosphere has been set up perfectly for the headline bands.

Manchester based five-piece The Dead XIII emerge, as always, all covered in startling corpse paint make up, quite the gripping scene on stage. After having headlined four out of the seven dates of this tour, they seem no less determined to put on a great show as a support band. The theatricality of their performance flourishes on a bigger stage, with more space to move about, and a higher vantage point for them to intimidatingly loom over the audience. Most of the songs performed are from their latest album ‘Catacombs’, such as ‘XIII’, ‘Frostbite’ and ‘Be-ware’ with an occasional older favourite like ‘Monster Rehab’ thrown in. David from Griever joins them on stage briefly, a nice demonstration of how the two bands have bonded over the course of the tour.

They thank everyone who has helped put this together, and their two fans who have followed the entire tour. As they leave the room it feels like we have already experienced a full show, such is their talent.

Headlining the night are metalcore band Griever, hailing from Bournemouth and missing a drummer tonight but disguising this fact expertly with recorded drums. The bigger stage also seems to suit them, with their dark clothes and black painted necks standing out more against striking strobe lighting, giving an intense, professional feel to their performance. Such intensity is added to by the obvious passion evident in each band member. They are certainly the most popular band among tonight’s crowd, soon managing to get a circle pit going which recurs throughout the set, and encouraging the audience to dramatically raise their hands to the sky during one song. Their emotional investment in live music shines through in vocalist David’s thanks to the crowd for coming out to support every one of the bands who performed tonight. Older and newer tracks are played, with new single ‘A Pure Heart’ surely being the most impressive. They end this song, and the night, all dramatically collapsed to the floor; an impressive and memorable end to their immensely visual set.

With such talent and passion for what they do as Griever have, they are certainly ones to watch out for, especially with a new EP coming next month. Check out the latest releases from all four bands below.