Review by Paul H Birch, photos by Martin Tierney
Events start early at The Slade Rooms, but it’s useful to know that in advance, or be able to contact someone to clarify such matters. Especially if you’re travelling. Otherwise you might have missed lively Burton-on-Trent power-trio Theia. Still you could always check out their meaty riffs later having purchased an EP while visiting their stall.
Next up and bringing along a sizeable part of the audience themselves are Scottish lasses The Amorettes. I’ve seen them pass this way before, and their act remains much the same: drummer walks on stage, picks up a beat that was fresh back in glam rock’s heyday, guitarist and bass player join her to work the crowd into a clapping frenzy then its full speed ahead for a set of tunes that owes debts to AC/DC, Ted Nugent and maybe even WASP; all acts that go out to entertain. The girls are tossing their hair, stomping all over the stage, and singing about how they’re gonna take a ‘Bull By The Horn’. The noticeable thing this season is Gill Montgomery’s soloing; infinitesimally more fluid, bending notes and playing at a volume that allows a suitably fine metallic pinched squeal along with some controlled feedback. Collectively with the rhythm sisters McKay she rages trough an unrelenting storm on what is already a warm Friday night.
Things get even hotter as The Treatment rush on stage – And nearly fall into the audience things being so compact and bijou up there. Foot on monitor, new singer Mitchell Emms marks the pitch as far as they can go without stage-diving while the brothers Grey roam to the sides and chop out the chords to ‘Let It Begin’. Bass player Rick Newman starts what will be a night of facial gurning while the Mohican hairstyle on his bobbing head makes out like one of those old drinking bird ornamental toys. At the back, Dhani Mansworth delivers shifting but constant rhythms, working up a sweat without need for the leather jackets the rest of the band are decked out in. As the adrenalin-driven song ends in grand staccato form there is rapturous applause and they’re pretty much straight into ‘Cry Tough’ also off their new album, its pace a tad more laid back, but just as intense.
The Treatment constantly work the crowd tonight – one that covers all ages with even kids who are accompanying their parents, and Tagore Grey obliges by leaning down to smile as a mother takes a mobile photo of her daughter standing near the stage’s barrier. The band don’t forget their old fans either, with the likes of ‘Running With The Dogs’ getting an early outing and some harmony guitars coming to the fore and a choice selection of other cuts propping up the set. But, it cannot be denied, new album Generation Me finds them taking another couple of steps up rock’s greasy ladder; find a metaphor with that in ‘The Devil’ if you can, played with a sense of drama, balls and even more sweat falling from their faces.
19 year old new boy Tao Grey takes the opening lead break on ‘I Bleed Rock & Roll’ with a number of similar short bursts shared between him and his lanky older brother. Emms sounds as if he’s singing at the top of his range, and I wait expecting it to crack and give out but it doesn’t. He’s the eye candy of the band that’s for sure, though the ever-animated Newman draws your attention visually just as much, his bass reverberating nicely at the conclusion to this song prior to. Guitars then trade solos for a celebratory ‘We Are Beautiful’ until the point Tagore Grey patrols the stage front’s breadth and the rest of the band shake their heads to dispatch the sweat running from without having take their hands of fretboards or drumsticks. They work, and do it hard, you can’t deny that about this band.
Perhaps the only things I find lacking are some really outstanding guitar solos – You can’t fault the Malcolm Young chordal chomps, there’s no dispute the melodies the guys play lift the songs, so as with the aforementioned commentary on Montgomery’s playing I suspect that little grey area will be fulfilled too six months down the road, if not by the end of this tour. But, looking like Chris Spedding’s grandkids with their slick black hair and leather jackets they know exactly how to drive a song and do so admirably with ‘Bloodsucker’, a song that feels a tad too long on album but live tonight sits just right.
‘Generation Me’ is a defiant rallying call, and the guy standing to my left who looks even older than me finds no irony in shouting along pumping his fist in the air. Hard rocking with a dependable UFO styled chord sequence I’d not noticed on the recorded version. On its completion it’s safe to say the band look well chuffed with themselves for pulling the song off quite so awesomely (and I rarely use such adjectives) as well as by the crowd’s reaction to it. ‘The Doctor’ is called for and delivers next, and having “Let the good times roll” they allow us all a little respite with the warm, vibrant sound of ‘Backseat Heartbeat’, Emms’ voice evocative, drums kicking everything into shape for the singalong chorus as the guitars get heavy and there’s much leaping about on stage. Mansworth’s drums again take the lead as they pummel into ‘Drink, Fuck, Fight’ and while I’ve never cared for the later, along with a solid shot of rock and roll like we’ve been delivered tonight I couldn’t think of a better way to spend a Friday evening.