Review by Woody, Photos by Lisa Billingham
The opening band for tonight’s triple bill is local-ish (via Barcelona) glamsters Stop Stop who are just plain freaking nuts. From the face paint, pink fluffy drums, big hair and flamboyant stage gear, they just scream ‘It’s Time To Party’! These guys don’t take themselves seriously in the slightest and play sleaze driven party rock and I’m certain the average sleaze fan would relish and enjoy their exuberant showmanship and fun time songs – they have a song called ‘Toilet Party’ amongst their repertoire, so that revelation should be a good indication of Stop Stop’s attitude.
Personally though I think they can be a bit of an acquired taste, they were enjoyable and I found myself engrossed in their stage presence but ultimately I thought their songs lacked memorability. They have a very throw away feel to them musically, it’s a quick fix, like a sugar rush, but once that has subsided they are easily forgotten. You’ll never forget these guys as performers though, trust me, and if you’re into your sleaze, these guys will definitely leave a bigger dent on you than they did me.
I have always had a soft spot for veteran British melodic rockers Lost Weekend as they take me back to my youth and my musical awakening years. Sadly I don’t get to see them live too often, so them getting this support slot was very pleasing to me. Their Keyboardist Ivan Parratt is also the live keys-smith with the headliners so that may have helped them get on board.
The sound at The River Rooms was crystal clear which is really beneficial for melodic rock music as it allows for the beauty and polish in many lush and layered musical landscapes to breathe at full effect. So it is with consummate ease that Lost Weekend envelop us in their music and I thoroughly enjoyed their entire set. Of course, as a band with a healthy back catalogue there will always be a long list of songs I wish they had played, most notably from my favourite album ‘Presence of Mind’ – which I’d have them play in its entirety.
Their new album ‘Evermore’ is probably their best since ‘Presence…’ not just their most solid overall but they have returned to a stronger melodic touch akin to the band’s roots. So it’s good to hear them giving a whole bunch of tracks from it an airing – ‘Love Will Find You’ is without a doubt amongst the bands finest melodic rocks tunes and is an exhilarating song to hear live especially with an impassioned performance from the entire band. As a whole everything went perfectly for them, Paul Uttley’s vocals were spot on and I love his very distinct voice which is showcased brilliantly here. Irvin Parratt’s keys being nice and high in the mix helped paint a wonderfully beautiful glossy shine over everything and Dave Thompson was on fire delivering memorable and deliciously melodic guitar riffs faultlessly.
It was yet another outstanding performance from a really tight live unit who deliver the musical goodies with total ease. If you get the opportunity to see these guys live, do it! You won’t be disappointed.
Rage Of Angels are a new name to British rock but they have quickly made an extremely positive impact on the melodic rock world. Starting life as the solo musical project of former Ten keyboard man Ged Rylands, he has quickly turned it into a fully fledged band and whilst he is the driving musical force behind the Angels they have certainly become the real deal since the debut album Dreamworld was released.
The most important addition to completing the band is vocalist Jason Morgan, obviously coming into a band which utilised such well known voices as Robert Hart and Danny Vaughn on Dreamworld is no easy task. So it’s pleasing he doesn’t mimic these guys and sings them in his own tones, especially when it turns out Ged has found himself such an amazing vocal power house to be the last piece in Angels live band puzzle. He has a booming, powerful vocal which grabbed me from the outset, making me forget about the original vocal versions, and thoroughly enjoy the edge Morgan’s voice brings to these now very familiar songs. Morgan also has a good stage presence finding it easy to be humorous and engage the audience making him a very charismatic entertainer which helps draw you into the show. Morgan is very much is the focal point of the band’s performance; another reason which makes me feel that Ged has found himself a real gem of a front man.
Ged seems used to being in the background and actually performs on the far left of the stage and delivers a fantastic guitar performance even if as a performer he is subtle and lets the music do the talking. I’ve seen bass man Gavin Cooper live on a few occasions and he is always solid and has a strong stage presence which accentuates the fact these guys are a serious band and not a project act. Portuguese drummer Joaco Colaco puts in an inspired and forthright performance which leaves a lasting impression, I was really impressed with Neil Fraser’s guitar performance that was practically flawless and was at ease in incorporating a visual aspect to his performance – definitely an unsung British guitar talent. Keyboardist Irvin Parratt was completely eclipsed by his monstrous multiple keyboard tower. It was a thing of true beauty that would bring a tear to all self respecting melodic rock fans! Although he was hidden, his performance added a lot of ambience to the Angels’ songs, more so on the more epic tracks and it really helped the band to encapsulate us in their sound. Although the River Rooms is only a small capacity venue, the Angels delivered such a mammoth musical landscape it felt fit for a stadium.
Though they have only one album, they still play a longer set than some bands with three or more to their name, so we definitely got value for money tonight as the band embraced the epic nature of many of the Angels’ tunes. It never became dull or feeling stretched out – which it has to be said was expertly done and for a bunch of musicians who live miles apart. They came across as a highly polished and well practiced live unit. I love the fact they used the montage music from Rocky 4 as their intro tape, very atmospheric and definitely a musical piece to get the blood pumping!
The set list is mixed well so the commercial tracks are set to keep the rhythm of the show just right amongst the more atmospheric and epic songs. A sign of a good show is one when you never look at your watch and a performance seems to fly by, the Angels achieved that with me tonight and they are definitely a band who should be playing bigger stages to larger audiences. I actually thought the commercial tracks were even more commercial tonight which of course delighted me, I’m not sure why but I think Parratt’s keyboards and Morgan’s vocal delivery helped make them seem slicker.
We are treated to the Dreamworld album in its entirety with Ged coming to the front of the stage to kick start the guitar riff to Ten classic ‘The Name Of The Rose’, which was fantastic and I really enjoyed their take on it, again it was a highlight that Morgan made it his own. For me the encore of ‘Through It All’ was a real buzz moment, it was effectively the cherry on top of an immense performance from a band who deliver unashamedly melodic rock with aplomb. It doesn’t happen very often these days so I always absorb every moment I get a chance to see a band that fully deserve the ‘melodic rock’ tag. I’ll definitely be the first in the queue the next time the Angels hit the road!