Review by Woody
I’m a big fan of the Live & Unsigned nights at The Robin as they give new and even established smaller bands a unique chance to play on a decent stage at a quality venue. So it was really pleasing to see a very healthy turn out for all of tonight’s bands.
First up was fresh faced Walsall youngsters Sunday 44 who are at the very beginning of their career and obviously relishing this opportunity to play at The Robin. Musically these guys are not my cup of tea, but I did enjoy their performance and never felt bored although I was never blown away by their songs. There’s a lot going on in their song writing and there is a wide and varied list of influences and I think that was a big factor in the band failing to hit the mark with me; the styles and set list seemed a real mish mash of these kid’s musical heroes and it gave their set a disjointed feel. There is some real raw talent within the band and it’s obvious that these kids will continue to grow. More live shows will improve their stage performance and the more songs they write, the more hits will surface for them and they will slowly define their own cohesive sound.
They did a great cover of Black Stone Cherry’s ‘Blame It On The Boom Boom’ which certainly appealed and energized the crowd. They stuck to showcasing their own material which is what these nights are all about and I think their established fans would have really enjoyed it and I’m sure they won over some of the more metal minded fans over as well.
It was great seeing this young band perform too before people who think they know better start messing with them telling them how to dress, style their hair and telling them who to sound like! Hope these kids stick to their guns and create the music they want to and ignore the aesthetic trappings of rock and roll, they’ll discover their own way as they mature! I fully expect to hear more of these guys in future.
The aptly named Blue Season are also a very young band who play blues based rock which would appeal to blues traditionalists and classic rock fans. Whereas Sunday 44 came across as a stereotypical bunch of Black Country kids, Blue Season came across as the posh kids in accent and image! Again there is some raw talent in the band, especially their guitarist who does some really great technical playing.
They really need to work on their stage presence and the singer reading lyrics from a sheet for their own original material was of course detrimental to their visual performance. Again I don’t want to be overly harsh as most my criticisms will dissolve as they gain more live experience, musically they need to work on their own songs too again time will sort that. Not the most exciting band, but they went down well with the crowd and again although their music didn’t appeal I still enjoyed their set.
Now I’ve stalking new Brummie AOR band RKB to perhaps disturbing levels on Facebook and I was a little bit excitable about finally seeing them live! They emerged about nine months ago and damn these guys work hard playing anywhere and everywhere and in many situations playing alongside bands who are far more aggressive and metallic, but I love the fact they don’t care and still try to win new fans in any crowd in any town! I wish more bands had their drive and enthusiasm!
Bar a bad mix in the first minute of their opening song ‘Destiny’ which is quickly sorted by the sound desk, they didn’t disappoint playing a tight set of all out melodic rock goodness, full of pompous driven keyboards, melodic guitar licks and choruses to sing your heart out to! They have some killer unforgettable melodic rock classics in their arsenal and how anyone couldn’t fall instantly in love with ‘So Far Away’ and ‘Goals In Life’ obviously doesn’t know quality music when it’s hitting them! These guys need to get an album recorded ASAP! It will definitely become a firm fixture on my CD player for a long time to come!
Guitarist Paul has a confident and easy stage presence and he delivers some great driven riffs and melodic licks that accentuate the highly melodic nature of these songs. I may be slowly falling for keyboardist Emily as she delivers some delightful and absorbing synths and pulsating keyboards which really create a great hook filled melodic landscape. Oh and if anyone says the keyboards on ‘Goals In Life’ are anything short of absolute genius I will personally bitch slap said person till they come to their senses. I feel for their drummer Kevin who has to double up on rhythm section duties with the Bass on a click track, but he does a stirling and faultless job, once they have found a suitable Bass man it will fill the band out nicely!
It’s hard not to focus on vocalist Kim who is just so full of energy and enthusiasm it’s such a pleasure to just watch her it’s hard not to be swept up by her stage presence and find yourself smiling for seemingly no reason! She does provide the most visual aspect of the band as she rocks out and participates with the audience, even when she wasn’t onstage she was supporting and dancing to all the other bands performing! That’s not something I see very often, musicians seem so critical and competitive of each other to me most the time!
For me these guys are an absolute revelation and not only do they have a sound that hits the mark just right with me they have some absolutely fantastic songs that should have your average melodic rocker grinning from ear to ear. I’ll definitely be seeing these guys live again….and again….and again!
So I’m a massive high prior to Devil’s Dice hitting the stage and fully expecting for these guys to maintain the momentum as I’m a big fan of their debut album Libertarian. This was their first live show ever and also minus a second guitarist so I was expecting a tentative and slow live warm up for the band as a unit. That’s not what we got, saying my jaw smashed through the Robin floor from opening note to closing is a vast understatement as a unit they absolutely smashed it and not only owned the stage they owned every audience member who gave them a massive positive response. I can’t find the words to describe just how brilliant their performance was and how immense all their tracks came across live, blown away doesn’t do justice for how good this performance was. They need to book more dates now cause the world needs it to happen!
Playing a highly melodic eighties style of metal which seems to come across even more melodic live whilst been even heavier! Frontman Matt Gore is an absolute vocal powerhouse who delivers a flawless and captivating performance this guy knows how to combine power and melody to perfection he had the audience eating out of his hand! The rhythm section was stunning switching between driven beats and the galloping beats on the heavier tracks at the flick of switch.
I think guitarist Dave Clark may be one of the best and most technically proficient guitarist’s I’ve ever seen live! I know what this guy is capable of from the album, but recreating that live like any guitarist is another matter but Clark just with seeming total ease delivered a masterclass in how to play guitar. What I love about his playing is this guy knows melody and his playing isn’t just about wowing an audience with his dexterous fingers, it’s about hitting us with unforgettable hooks and licks too. An awe inspiring performance!
With a captivated audience the band delivered a short but exciting set of melodic metal that it’s just impossible to not find yourself rocking out to whilst singing along to those massive choruses! I was disappointed the band had to cut set closer and personal favourite ‘Matter Of Faith’ from their set, but given how awesome their set had been it’s only a minor gripe! You can’t really pick highlights from a performance like this but the likes of ‘Feed The Flames’ and ‘Chameleon’ seemed to light up this excitable crowd!
I think Buzzard frontman James summed up Devil’s Dice performance best as he states ‘How the hell do we follow that?!’ before kicking into their headline set. I have to give Buzzard their due and say they did a great job of not falling apart following such a strong set. These guys are obviously gig hardened veterans and that came across as they delivered a high energy and fun packed set to keep the audience entertained. Their alternative, punky garage rock sound doesn’t really appeal to me but I still really enjoyed their set because it was fun and a great way to cap off the night!
It’s also nice that the band are really happy to play the Robin and obviously revelling in the chance to perform here these guys have definitely earned their stripes on the toilet circuit to get this opportunity and they made the most of it. Those faithful who stayed till the end enjoyed a fun packed energetic performance from this three piece.
It’s nice to see camaraderie shown by Buzzard as they get Kim from RKB up to sing on a cover of the Undertone’s ‘Teenage Kicks’ which was a smile inducing highlight of their set. They also got all the bands up on stage at the end for a final bow and to take some photos to mark the occasion.
Quite possibly the best Live and Unsigned yet and definitely one of the most fun! It’s also heart-warming to see so many people turn out for local bands here’s hoping the next one is just as well supported!