Review by Woody, photos by Rob Stanley
Opening tonight was three piece Mind Of A Lion who perform indie style rock. They have an Americanised indie sound that makes me we want to refer to them as ‘college rock’; a term ever present in the nineties and that’s the sound that comes to mind for these guys. I can’t say I was wowed by them, but for what they do they were ok. Competent performers and to be fair, it’s hard to give a jazzed up performance when you’re performing to a largely empty room. I’ve seen far worse bands but there is nothing here for me to wax lyrical about, maybe had there been an audience for them to play to this review would have played out different. Although none of the songs really stuck with me, there were a couple of nice atmospheric musical moments that did intrigue me.
It was a totally different performance from the bombastic, full on rock ‘n’ roll of southerners Broken Chords who delivered an energetic performance filled with groove driven power. Bands playing blues based hard rock are a dime a dozen nowadays; a genre that is beyond saturation, and many of the bands some publications go bananas for leave me bored and unimpressed with their one dimensional music. Therein probably lies the biggest compliment I could pay the Broken Chords, and that’s the diversity in their song writing which makes them exciting and enjoyable and really stand out.
A power trio that really do deliver a powerful punch of groove driven rock ‘n’ roll which really gets your blood pumping, I can see these guys becoming the darlings of the classic rock fraternity given the right support and gig opportunities. They also put on a stomping physical performance which engages your attention and the energy and eccentricity of front man Joe helps elevate them above many other similar sounding bands. Hell, some of Joe’s mannerisms and hand gestures would make local legend Bob Catley (Magnum) jealous!
A nice surprise and they have some traditional blues based rock songs that put me in mind of some of my favourite classic rock bands like Thunder. Although Broken Chords have a more modern twinge to their sound and a vocalist with a more indie rock vocal, this helps differentiate them from the crowd. It will be interesting to see where these guys go from here; they have a good collection of songs which should see them easily expand their fan base.
I have to admit I was really shocked at how poor tonight’s turn out was for Electric Mary. I know it’s a Monday night but I really thought they had more pull in the UK given how much positive media support there has been surrounding this established Aussie band in recent times.
It’s clear from the very beginning that these guys are much more used to playing in front of decent sized crowds back home as they perform exceptionally confidently and professionally and to be honest they deserve to be playing to a packed house of sweaty rockers. Forget the lack of crowd, Electric Mary delivered the goods and put on a fabulous performance of gritty rock ‘n’ roll which I absolutely loved. They had lots of energy, plenty of melody and hooks intermingled with their rock grit guitars.
It’s hard to define their sound, part of me thinks they owe a lot to Classic Aussie rock like Rose Tattoo but then they have some parts that owe heavily to British classic rock most notably local legends Led Zeppelin. That said, it’s hard to say they are a classic rock band as many of their songs have strong indie inflections and modern vibes in their structure. One thing I can define though is they have some bloody awesome songs that get stuck in your memory and get you rocking along to their driven bluster.
As performers the band as a whole seemed game and although I’m sure it’s hard playing to a small albeit happy crowd but Rusty announces from the get go he plans to get things going like it was a sell out crowd! They also do try to get some crowd interaction going allowing a few gung ho hardcore Electric Mary fans to get really involved.
It was cool to see the band had done their research on the area, not only referring to the area as The Black Country but also vocally acknowledging the musical history and legacy born from the area. Hell most English bands don’t even know the Black Country let alone acknowledge it from stage, so it’s great to hear an International band recognise our area’s true name and heritage. How to win fans over at shows 101….and it works!
I’m new to the band, although I know they have been around a while. I’m really glad I checked them out as I really enjoyed their performance and hope I get to see them again in the future. They are cracking performers and your average classic rock fans who pile down the Robin for more established acts would love them; definitely take time out to see them next time around!
The Robin has almost been my second home this year as I break the 100 band barrier but I do feel that Mike and the venue has pricing issues.
I was also at this gig and felt it would have been better at the Slade Rooms or a smaller venue, like The Oobleck. Or one of the smaller O2 rooms. My friend spent a week with Electric Mary in Ireland and they played venues half the size of the Robin, where the crowds therefore look less conspicuous by their absence! Paying >£20 is too much, I’ve seen loads of gigs where I’ve paid a tenner or less. Maybe at that price they would have pulled in a lot more people? It was the same for Virgil & The Accelerators, and Pat McManus, half empty. Yes Magnum will fill it, but not many others will.
I’m paying less than that to see The Temperance Movement tonight at The Institute. Bigger band – less money.
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