Review and photos by Tony Gaskin
You might be forgiven for thinking we’ve been hyping up Martyr De Mona a lot in recent weeks, but there will be no apologies from us I’m afraid. We like hard working, dedicated bands here at Midlands Rocks, so if you think we’ve gone over the top, well that’s how we roll. The culmination of all the press we’ve been giving to MDM was this evening gig at The Wulfrun Hall Wolverhampton.
For tonight’s soiree MDM had invited three up and coming bands to support them and opening were Lightfire. Like all the bands tonight, this was probably their biggest gig to date, on a large stage with the room already on it’s way to being filled. So the nerves must have been kicking in, but they didn’t show it with a solid set of heavy alternative rock. The four piece from Cannock had a lot of support down the front, this being virtually a home gig for them, but they easily won over a lot of new fans tonight. Front man, Scott Sieradzki, was confident and powered through songs like ‘Ignorance’ and one of my favourites ‘Higher’. With national radio interest from the likes of Kerrang! And Planet Rock, Lightfire are moving in the right direction. You can catch them on the Breaking Boundaries Tour at the end of May, early June.
Next up was a young band I’ve been shouting about for well over twelve months now. Fool’s Glory are very young and very talented, and they surprised a lot of people tonight. They are fronted by the highly energetic Katie Mainwood who has one of the best voices on a female singer that I’ve heard in a long time, and when you realise how young she is and how much development she’s probably still got to go, it’s simply jaw dropping. For someone so young her range is already extensive, just check out their track ‘Devil’s Daughter’. As for the rest of the band, Brandon Wall on lead is a prodigious talent, and drives the rest of his band mates to a higher level that belies their youth and inexperience. The big thing for me though, was that they looked like they belonged on that big stage, they moved around with ease and confidence and Katie owned the crowd. If the music press are raving about the likes of Halestorm and the Pretty Reckless then I say come and look at our home grown talent.
Following on from such a high energy set is always hard for any band, but The Black Hounds are probably the most experienced band here tonight so weren’t fazed by the experience. Although early days for the band under this name and line-up they’ve all been around the scene a long time under various banners and it showed. Probably the tightest and technically the best set of the night, The Black Hounds treated us to some hard rocking tunes that were straight up, no frills Rock ‘n’ Roll. The recent addition of former Whiskey Syndicate frontman Ant Wright has given their sound a more classic feel. Luke Winship on lead, is quietly efficient, leaving all the energetic stage antics up to the man they call Bruce Danger Zone over on bass. Again, this is a band that have won over a lot of new fans tonight, and all three support acts have benefited from Martyr De Mona’s invitation tonight to help them celebrate Midlands rock.
So to the main act then. It’s been a very long build up and hundreds of hours of hard work from these guys to get to this point tonight. But if any young local band approached me for advice on how to go about setting out a road plan for success, I would tell them to look at what MDM have done over the last two years. They’re nowhere near the end of their journey of course, but the first leg has been completed. The album is getting rave reviews, their live shows are winning over new fans and they are getting national radio play, so tonight was all about a big blow out to celebrate reaching some key milestones.
One of those milestones was putting this gig on tonight, the Wulfrun holds around 1000 punters so it was a big gamble for the band to book such a large venue, but with no local gigs for over 18 months, then the demand was there and they comfortably filled the room. A crowd incidentally that was like a who’s who of the Midlands Rock & Metal scene, it was great to see so many local bands represented in the crowd, an indication of how much respect MDM have gained and also reciprocating the support that the guys show to the local scene.
Opening up their set with the first two tracks off Impera was a no brainer, probably the two most popular and played MDM tunes out at the moment ensured a vigorous response. The rest of the set was a mix of old and new tracks, but mainly focusing on the new album, ‘Hollow Shore’ has become my favourite off the album and was a real spine tingling moment, and funnily enough it followed an older track ‘Lycanthropy’ a track that I was critical about when I first heard it, but now that it’s been re-worked it’s heavy and huge.
Tonight was a huge night for the guys and to be honest it’s probably not the best performance I’ve seen from them on this tour. Nerves and adrenaline were no doubt running high and it took them three or four songs to find their rhythm, but tonight was all about celebrating their success to date and showcasing some incredible local talent, and with such a partisan crowd I’m guessing such minor issues that they did have would have probably gone unnoticed, or at least forgiven. The buzz and atmosphere though was the best I’ve experienced at such a grass roots level for a long time and I was lucky enough to be invited up onto the stage to witness the encore from the wings.
Finishing off with two “old” songs was a way of saying thank you to the fans that have stuck by them through thick and thin, ‘Esprit De Corps’ evokes a feeling of being part of something special and probably their first big track ‘Eva’ has been brought up to date with the current line-ups much heavier rendition of this timeless classic.
As the crowd gather around them at the end for photo ops, Louis, Ash, Josh and Ant have a lot to be proud about tonight. There’s still a long road to travel but the first way point has been reached and whatever happens from here on in you can’t take tonight away from them. We will make no apologies here at Midlands Rocks for throwing our support behind a band that dedicates itself so fully to what it wants to achieve and hopefully we’ll continue to accompany Martyr De Mona on their quest.
If you were one of the unfortunate ones not able to make it to this gig, then they will be back in the Midlands on the 18th July at The River Rooms in Stourbridge with support from Fire Red Empress who feature members of Voodoo Johnson, and more UK dates to follow in the Autumn