Review & photos by Rich Ward
By the time of the thunderous set closer of ‘Call To Arms’, The Black Hounds had proved themselves to be the perfect tonic for the start of a Friday night.
If The Black Hounds had warmed up the venue, then Santa Cruz notched the mercury considerably higher up the scale with an incendiary performance. Taking to the stage after a lengthy intro tape, you’d think that this Finnish quartet had just been plucked off Sunset Strip in 1988 and somehow transported here bypassing the last 25 odd years. Their Skid Row / Guns ‘N’ Roses influences are evident, none more so than on ‘Relentless Renegades’.
They make full use of the stage, and work the crowd with experience that belies their age. At one point, lead guitarist Johnny leaps over the barriers and weaves around the venue, making his way to the bar, jumping on it and soloing like a man possessed. Easily the tastiest thing served from the bar all evening. If he dropped a note, I certainly didn’t notice. Harmony vocals abound in ‘Nothing Compares To You’ and ‘Aiming High’ is certainly worthy as their statement of intent. You can imagine that they would have played the same show whether it was to ten people or ten thousand. This, ladies and gentlemen, is how a band should play a rock ‘n’ roll show.
Kobra & the Lotus play metal. Pure unadulterated metal. Their hardworking ethic has seen the Canadian band hit the UK for short tours of the UK and Europe on a regular basis, each time playing a slightly larger venue, and taking in festivals along the way. It’s a tough economic climate to be trying to get more punters through the door, but their hard work and dogged approach seems to be working.
Frontwoman Kobra Paige stalks the stage with a commanding presence, dressed in studded leather, resplendent with dream catchers and a possessor of one the strongest female vocals currently out there. Opener ‘Nayana’ is a tour de force with a thunderous rhythm section supporting the dual guitars of Jasio Kulakowski and Charlie Parra Del Riego, and allowing Kobra’s voice to soar above.
The powerhouse drumming at times reminiscent of latter day Priest on tracks such as ‘No Rest For The Wicked’ and new number ‘Warhorse’. A small technical hitch with the intro tapes on ‘Lonely Sanctuary’ is seemingly the only blip in an otherwise faultless set which is closed by ’50 Shades of Evil’ – a song that has become their signature tune. In an hour long set there was no let up, which in some ways was their weakness. Certainly if their set was longer, a bit of variation would be needed. All the same, it was a fine performance and an encore of ‘Aria of Karmike’ and ‘Welcome To My Funeral’ finish off the night in style.
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