Review by Rob Billingham, photos by Lisa Billingham
Like headliners Jameson Raid, Soldier have their roots back in the mid to late 1970’s. Original founding member Ian Dick still takes his rightful place on stage and with the other guys strutting their stuff he seems content to take a little bit of a back seat, but letting us know he’s still there with his excellent guitar solos, a little like Scott Gorham of Black Star Riders.
Opening with a track off their Chronicles album, ‘Infantrycide’ was the pacemaker for eleven tunes; some new, some older, but all with an energy and tempo that ensured a full-on workout for drummer Tim Churchman, whose outstanding, but never extravagant, stick-work was most impressive. Vocalist and frontman Richard Frost keenly interacted with a disappointingly small crowd with varying degrees of success but the music was greeted with enthusiastic approval. Miles Goodman’s rhythm guitar work was spot on and his harmonies with Ian were also on the money. Bassist Dave Harrison cuts quite an imposing figure, often thrusting forward, foot on his monitor and with a relaxed, but smooth playing style, working the stage well with Miles. The band have all the right ingredients in their music; songs like the excellent ‘Dogs Of War’ and the single release ‘Sheralee’ confirm this and with mention of a new album due soon, you can expect to be hearing more of Soldier in 2015.
And so to Jameson Raid, another product of those mid 70’s NWOBHM halcyon days which spawned so many richly talented heavy metal bands from in and around the Birmingham area. Why it has taken nigh on forty years for the band to release a full length CD I couldn’t really say. Jameson Raid is also too good to only be performing one UK gig this year. The last time I saw these guys was at HRH in 2013 and was well impressed. Another year on and playing a local gig it was good to see Terry, Dave, Pete and Lars in really high spirits.
A nostalgia trip from a band which was setting the pace back then, but seemed to inexplicably fade into the mist for a while? Possibly for some in attendance, but with a new album, Uninvited Guests, due for release in the very near future it seems that “The Raid” are hell bent on making up time with a new found vigour and a line up that oozes class and outstanding musicianship. From the opening ‘Mr Sunset’, one of the new album tracks, through to ‘Truth and Heresy’, the main set closer, we had a set of heavy metal and hard rocking that should win the guys many new and younger fans and with this current line up there is the talent to make 2015 a biggie for Jameson Raid.
Longest serving member Terry Dark has a no nonsense approach to his vocals, never straining for impossible notes that have been the Achilles heel of many a frontman and he always maintains a massive air of confidence and control, even with the somewhat mischievous Pete Green and Dave Rothan continually moving around the stage. Pete Green has to be amongst the top echelons of rock bassists currently on the circuit. His bass solo halfway through the set was quite mesmerising and reminded me of a similar performance by the great Magnus Rosen playing with ex-Sabbath frontman Tony Martin’s Headless Cross a couple of years back.
We were treated to another impromptu solo to allow Terry to undertake a wardrobe change for ‘Truth and Heresy’, re-appearing as the Priest of Darkness! In Dave Rothan Jameson Raid have a gem of a guitarist, who just got better and better as the set moved on. His work on encore song ‘7 Days Of Splendour’ was quite outstanding. With the highly acclaimed Lars Wickett sat and occasionally stood behind the band, his drum kit spread before him like the bridge console of a super tanker, we had the most flamboyant of the group – there’s nothing wrong with that providing you can also deliver. Lars does that in bucket loads and then some, but knows just when to temper his mild exhibitionism as you would expect of a musician with such an extensive pedigree. Sure there was the odd bum note and Dave conceded after the gig that he’ll be working on a few things, but that’s live music and I think he was being slightly over critical of his contribution to a great performance by a band long overdue major success.
Jameson Raid are one of those bands that will never be allowed to forget their past as the reception for ‘Catcher In The Rye’ and encore songs ‘7 Days’ & ‘Getting Hotter’ proved, but they need to move on, and with lots of hard work going on behind the scenes, a new album and more live dates, next year this should be one Jameson Raid that will succeed.