KK’s Steel Mill has gone from strength to strength over the last year attracting bigger names and becoming a firm favourite venue for Midlands rock and metal fans. On a bitterly cold December evening a nice hot cup of tea and mince pie from Motley Brew was a most appreciated purchase before getting down to business with the bands.
The supports to Last In Line were all local bands and opening the show were Iconic Eye. They played a short, tight set which mainly focussed on their second album, Into The Light, with ‘Better Place’ and Black Heart’ both being solid melodic rock tracks with a hard edge and received well. They finished on a cover of Jefferson Starship’s ‘Jane’ which was a faithful rendition and lyrically apt given that this was to be vocalist Jane Gould’s last show with the band. Sister Shotgun’s Chloe Ozwell will be filling in on forthcoming dates until a permanent replacement is found.
Perennial favourites on the local live circuit, Voodoo Sioux, never fail to put on a good show. Opening with ‘Falling Of The Edge Of The World’, they tear through a set dominated by tracks from their recent Grotesque Familiares & S.K.R.A.P.E. albums alongside new single ‘Into The Garden’.
It’s difficult to take your eyes off bass wonder Mario as he contorts himself into all sorts of positions with his unique playing style. The large stage being an asset of which he makes full use. That being said, flamboyant frontman Nick Flaherty also commands his fair share of attention not least by arriving on stage dressed in an embroidered smoking jacket, chequered tie and top hat resplendent with an array of feathers. By contrast Jon Blakey & Nigel Halford do not compete and opt for effortlessly cool which they pull of with aplomb.
They get a longer set and ‘Backwards To Babylon’ particularly impresses and sign off with a super catchy ‘Mister Smith or Jones’ to a reception that proves that if they didn’t already have a large fan contingent here already, they had won over many a new one.
From old school favourites to a hard working band that are fast rising through the ranks and perfecting their show. Gin Annie deliver modern rock in spades. Since their line up change 2 years ago, the band have been on an upward trajectory. Headline tours, festival appearances and numerous significant support slots such a s tonight have honed the band and allowed them to give maximum exposure to their 100% Proof debut album.
They take to the stage to a backing tape of The A-Team theme before crashing in with ‘New Bad Habit’; a real punchy hard rocker that sets the pace of their set. There are slightly lighter moments with ‘Dying To Love Again’ but it’s mostly full on rock n roll from start to end so it is appropriate that they close with ‘Born To Rock And Roll’. Their next album is sure to be a killer.
When Vivian Campbell, Vinny Appice & Jimmy Bain formed Last In Line along with vocalist Andrew Freeman there were high expectations from the line up of Dio’s greatest era. Heavy Crown delivered those expectations with Freeman in particular being a revelation. However, the death of Jimmy Bain before the album release the longevity of the band was always going to be in question. However, drafting in Phil Soussan on bass, they hit the road and seemed to have gelled well. After slimming down to a four piece, Last In Line’s second album, the imaginatively titled II, was released earlier this year.
Not only was the second album stronger than the first, they now have more quality songs to sit alongside the classic era Dio material. As such they open with their recent lead single ‘Landslide’; a beast of a tune that shows off Andrew Freeeman’s vocals, Appice/Soussan’s solid rhythm section along with glorious riffing and solo from Vivian Campbell.
From there on in what follows is a masterclass of hard rock, expertly executed. New songs like ‘Year Of The Gun’ and ‘Electrified’ stand up as well as any of the Dio catalogue. ‘Holy Diver’ and ‘Last In Line’ are timeless classics and Freeman more than does justice to them. Ronnie would undoubtedly be proud, as would Jimmy Bain, who Soussan takes a moment to honour.
I always felt that the studio version of ‘Egypt (The Chains Are On)’ never quite hit the mark, but tonight it sounded glorious; far more dynamics and Campbell’s closing solo was simply spellbinding. He must surely be relishing the opportunity to let rip on these songs away from the confines of Def Leppard. ‘Rainbow In The Dark’ closes the main set.
The encore starts with ‘Don’t Talk To Stranger’; another highlight which is then immediately matched with ‘Devil In Me’ and the crowd respond accordingly. Freeman makes the point that Last In Line are in it for the long haul. They seem to have hit on the same formula as Black Star Riders with the desire to progress beyond the legacy, and I sincerely hope that the future holds many more albums and shows from this special band.
Stand Up and Shout
Straight Through the Heart
Year of the Gun
Black Out the Sun
The Last in Line
Egypt (The Chains Are On)
Rainbow in the Dark
Don’t Talk to Strangers
Devil in Me