Review by Rob Billingham, photos by Lisa Billingham
“It’s awfully quiet”, exclaimed Ste Gough, frontman and vocalist with Black Country rock band My Great Affliction. He wasn’t kidding either! The first of four bands playing tonight, they must have thought they’d turned up on the wrong night as there wasn’t a body, save for a couple of togs and me, in the room. OK, so their grand entrance had been dealt a bit of a blow, but with a “Merry Christmas” on they went and soon the sound of their meaty bass-driven music drew people away from the bar and into the arena. As ever, this local trio didn’t hold back as they hammered out a short set of quality hard rock which should see them much in demand in 2015. Stand out track for me was ‘Mountain’, with its great heavy guitar riffs. A little bit of fun ensued at the end of the set, once a guitar tekky had been overcome, as the boys knocked out their adaptation of ‘Santa Claus Is Coming To Town’. I think Slade’s reputation as kings of the Christmas song is safe for at least another twelve months! Great start to tonight’s musical fayre.
Birmingham based five-piece Cancel Tomorrow were next to ply their brand of rock and metal with a six song set which included the four tracks off the EP release Conquer and Divide. A new band to me, Cancel Tomorrow is fronted by vocalist Emma Norman-Webb who I thought was quite excellent. Bassist Jonathan Hayter and stick-man James Newbury provide the pounding background rhythm on to which guitarists Gareth Milward and Nick Rogers paint some exquisite solos and harmonies with Emma’s voice bringing light to it all as if it were a Thomas Kinkade painting. I loved that the opening number ‘Amber Alert’ was a warning of what was to come in the shape of set closer, ‘Worlds Collide’, my personal favourite. I like this band a lot, but would like to see a little bit more stage presence. After all they do include Steel Panther, Motley Crue and Guns N Roses among their influences. I shall be keeping at least one eye open for this bands 2015 adventures and look forward to seeing them again.
Third band up, Lynus, another Wolves band, was also new to this reviewer. Time-served musicians brought up on Hard Rock, Punk and Metal, Lynus were tonight minus guitarist and alleged exhibitor of items testicular, Dan Sherlock, so were playing as a threesome, although they were joined on stage by Jackie Sherlock for ‘The Unknown’, the band’s latest single release. A lost set-list notwithstanding, Lynus delivered an eight song main menu of decent rock music and the numerous fans in the crowd were certainly well enthused and making much noise. However, I can’t help thinking that without Dan Sherlock the overall sound was somewhat compromised and from time to time the vocal delivery was not exactly pin-sharp. Having said that, Lynus have a good rapport with the crowd and they do have some great songs; ‘Shadow Chasing’ and ‘Wasted’ in particular. A punky version of Sir Cliffs ‘Mistletoe and Wine’ rounded off the set, again, a bit of festive fun to keep the party mood in full swing. In fairness, I really need to see this band with a complete line-up to fully appreciate what they can really deliver, so let’s see what 2015 brings forth.
And so to Theia, our headlining Christmas party hosts. Theia was the mythological Greek goddess of the moon and subsequently the name given to an ancient planet that many theorists say was responsible for the creation of our own moon as it hit Earth with a glancing blow. What is in no doubt is that Theia the band is very real, made of real people (I think!) and hitting the world of music most definitely full on! Having seen this band three times, twice with the current line up, the rate of progress has been quite mesmeric – and they were good when I saw them for the first time!
These three real nice guys have a simple philosophy and that is to work hard and love what you do. Throw into the mix their superbly crafted tunes and we have all the right ingredients to leave an audience wanting more and more as they get carried along on the waves of hooks, riffs and unadulterated enthusiasm rolling off the stage! Opening song ‘Ride On’ whetted the appetite nicely for the feast that was to follow. ‘Some Days’ epitomises the band’s energy and enthusiasm and this spills over into the two cover songs in the set; Kenny Loggins’ ‘Footloose’ and ‘I Believe In A Thing Called Love’ from The Darkness. Both given the Theia treatment, these two songs could have been the bands own, so well did they sit in the set.
A ten-song set was brought to an end with the song that has become synonymous with their name. If it’s Theia, then ‘Whoop De Fucking Do!’. A firm crowd favourite, I should imagine this one will be the first scribbled on to the set list for a long time to come and I hope that really is a long time, because I believe these guys have a great future ahead of them. On a personal note it is so good to see a totally rejuvenated John Tolley (ex-Bullitstorm) on drums; he’s slotted in so well and in my opinion made the Theia sound more solid.
Finally, in keeping with the earlier bands, Theia couldn’t resist a bash at a Christmas evergreen. We were in the Slade Rooms so I won’t say any more! Needless to say everyone had a good old sing-along and hopefully went home happy people, their musical appetites well and truly sated by the four bands who had worked so hard for them.
1. Ride On
2. Some Days
3. Footloose (Kenny Loggins cover)
4. Society On Mute
5. My Poison
7. I Believe In A Thing Called Love (Darkness cover)
9. We’re Alive
10. Whoop De Fucking Do!
11. Merry Christmas Everybody ( Slade cover)