Review by Woody, photos by Lisa Billingham
Lawless released their debut album, Rock Savage, last year and I have been keen to see them live ever since and unfortunately missed them at this year’s HRH AOR Festival due to unforeseen circumstances *Cough* hangover *Cough*. Their new album R.I.S.E is out in November, and I’m a big fan of their brand of melodic eighties inspired metal.
They played a storming set and didn’t disappoint! Lawless may be a new name but all the musicians have a wealth of experience with Demon, Persian Risk and Headrush. This experience is highlighted in just how well they performed, as well as how minor blips are quickly brushed aside without damaging the impression of each song. They do a great job of bringing the energy of their songs to life in a live setting and kick started the evening with a bang and got us buzzing for more.
I really like vocalist Paul Hume’s voice; it’s strongly melodic but has a slight bite to it and it gives a metal edge to some of their heavier material. He was really humorous and kept putting me in mind of Johnny Vegas, I think it was the accent, but his in-between song quips kept the audience involved and entertained. Guitarist Howie G was impressive and really shredded on his solos, whilst Drummer Neil Ogden and Bassist Tabbie Williams provided a thunderous backbone to proceedings. Energetic and very, very METAL!
They made the most of their support slot even sliding in some new tunes, which I was really taken by but I noted they seemed a tad heavier than the Rock Savage material. Highlights for me were probably the sweeping bombast of ‘S.O.S’ and ‘F.O.A.D’ don’t worry not all their songs are acronyms they also played ‘Metal Time’, ‘Black Widow Ladies’, ‘Give Em Hell’, ‘Song For Friend’, ‘Step In’ and they closed with ‘Heavy Metal Heaven’. Hume even attempted to get some crowd participation on the final song, which you could tell he was worried would fall flat on its ass, but with a huge smile he tried anyway and the crowd reaction was far better than I think he thought it would be. Obviously lots of people out tonight up for a good time!
I’m looking forward to seeing them again a solid and enjoyable live act!
Former Mama’s Boy Pat McManus often gets referred to as a Blues guitarist in relation to his solo work and whilst there are elements of the blues to his music, that’s not the label I would give him. The Blues by its own definition is traditionally a quite sombre and downbeat musical style, but every time I’ve seen Pat live, including tonight, his music is far more upbeat and joyous than your average blues man. I think he owes more to Irish folk, Gary Moore and Thin Lizzy in his style than the southern blues performers from the USA.
He is quite possibly one of the happiest performers you will ever see perform; he’s full of life and a smile never leaves his face. His strong Irish accent makes him seem very easy going and he finds it really easy to engage and involve his audience making it feel quite intimate. Pat’s band may only be a three piece, but they make a full, rambunctious sound. As you would expect Pat does take a few opportunities to highlight his guitar abilities but his fret board adventures never become tedious or out stay their welcome. He seems to recognise that in order to maintain your audience’s attention, it has to remain about the song and the atmosphere. Some guitarists have a bad habit of going full force widdly on their frets and totally losing their audience – this is not something of which Pat can be accused.
This is the third time I’ve seen Pat at The Robin, this been his first ever headline slot – having to make do with supports here previously. It’s an achievement that Pat seemed extremely proud of and I’m sure his smile was kept in place by the loud reaction he received from his fans throughout the night. I’ve enjoyed Pat every time I’ve seen him there is just something undeniably uplifting about his music and performances that really appeals to me. I had wondered if the impact of his short slots could be maintained for a full headline set and the answer is an outstanding yes and his time on stage seemed to fly by far too quickly.
Mid set the hardcore McManus fans were delighted to hear a few Mama’s Boys tracks from back in the day like ‘Straight Forward No Looking Back’ these songs came across with a blunter harder rocking sound which definitely upped the energy levels in the room. He played a song called ‘Absent Friends’ in memory of his late brother who passed away twenty years ago – now normally these sort of introductions are to heartfelt and sombre ballads so I was a little taken aback when a full on rocker blasted at me. The song felt more of a celebratory reflection on a much missed loved one, rather than a maudlin bare bones ballad.
There is something quintessentially Irish about Pat’s music and performances and I like it! Another fabulous performance from the man and I hope he continues to build an audience for his solo shows and when he comes back to the Midlands I can’t recommend a trip out to see him more highly to you!