Review by Rob Billingham, photos by Lisa Billingham
A crisp, sunny autumn Sunday finds the Midlands Rocks team in Crewe for an evening at a great little venue, The Box. The final leg of a short northern UK tour, Swedish melodic rockers Coldspell were joined by tour pals hard/classic rock outfit Twelve Gauge and special guests Birmingham AOR band Daylight Robbery.
Sunday nights can tend to be a little hit and miss as far as turn-outs go and unfortunately tonight was seemed like it was going to be the latter as, with five minutes to the off, there was barely a person inside the room. Then, as if by magic, bodies began to trickle in and suddenly we had an audience just as Daylight Robbery entered the arena to bring us their melodic heavy rock set of songs mainly showcasing the latest album release Falling Back To Earth. The album is receiving fantastic reviews, so it’s a little disappointing that this is their last gig until the New Year. There is no doubt that the music oozes quality and in “Fallen Star” I think they have a monster of a song. Unusually, I thought Tony Nicholl needed a couple of numbers to get into his stride fully tonight, but ultimately the strong set of music was rewarded by the enthusiastic appreciation given by The Box audience.
With the Daylight Robbery guys enjoying some well-earned liquid refreshment it was the turn of Liverpool based Twelve Gauge to strut their stuff. This likeable five-piece have been gaining a reputation as one of the live acts to see, and in their relatively short life have supported the likes of Toseland, Orange Goblin and Heaven and Earth. Tonight sees the last of their support slots with awesome Swedish rockers Coldspell as this mini tour concludes.
With striking stage presence Twelve Gauge rocked their way through eight songs rich in hooks and catchy choruses. With influences from rock giants like Metallica and Aerosmith through to more contemporary bands like Black Stone Cherry and Alterbridge they have certainly forged a winning formula. Frontman J Michael Ward is able to vary his vocal delivery between clean and grittier with some confidence and really impressed me as did drummer Graham “Gee” Bennett with his articulate stick-work providing the driving beat upon which the band thrived. All eight songs tonight were drawn from the debut album All In, acknowledged by many as having the credentials of a more established band with several recordings already tucked away. It seems that with the album and shows, that this band has set itself a very high bar indeed, but judging by tonight’s performance it’s a challenge I don’t think these guys will have too many nightmares about.
Having missed these guys at Hard Rock Hell AOR earlier in the year as I was covering the Prog stage at the time, Coldspell was a band I was really looking forward to catching. It seems to me that when Nordic meets heavy rock and metal something special is usually the outcome. Sister, Spiders, Sabaton, Turisas, and Hammerfall immediately spring to mind. With appetite well and truly whetted the lights dimmed; the cue for drummer Perra Johansson to announce the bands arrival with a pounding roll on his kit. When vocalist Niclas Swedentorp roared “Let’s fuckin’ rock and roll!” we were well and truly underway on a musical voyage that that meandered between ports that were the bands three albums Infinite Stargaze, Out from the Cold and most recent release Frozen Paradise.
Despite the smallish turnout, founder Micke Larsson and the boys, minus keyboardist Matti Eklund due to personal reasons, played as though the place was rammed. To be honest, I would expect nothing less of a band with the class of Coldspell. Opening with ‘Heroes’, from the second album it was easy to see why the lads from northern Sweden are held in such high regard. As Micke had mentioned over a pre gig beer, a day’s moose hunting rounded off with invigorating saunas and generous slugs of a well-known herbal liqueur, coincidentally meaning “master of hunters”, gives one an amazing zest for life.
As each song passed, evidence that Coldspell have brought 70’s, 80’s and 90’s rock into the 2010’s was undeniable and that Micke’s ideal day perhaps works! The amazing, anthemic ‘Paradise’ was the showstopper for me.
I’ve always thought bass players were a crazy bunch and Chris Goldsmith’s animated string plucking did little to diminish that thought, but he is one hell of a bassist, it has to be said. He and drummer Perra Johansson were the powerhouse at the heart of yet another sensational Swedish rock band that just ticks so many boxes. A really nice touch was when Coldspell invited their tour support Twelve Gauge back onto stage for a two-band jam of ‘Highway To Hell’. Until the next time guys and don’t wait too long!
2. Angel Of The World
3. Out Of The Cold
4. Eye Of The Storm
5. On The Run
6. Six Feet Under
7. One In A Million
9. Night Falls
10. Straight Things Out
12. Keep On Believing