Review by Andy Boden and Photos by Tony Gaskin
Sunday evening finds us heading into Wolverhampton for a 6pm doors event organised by ‘Pure Rawk’ Promoter of the Year Emma Scott. The evening was originally anticipated being the album launch party for The Whiskey Syndicate’s debut album Right Side Of Crazy, although a delay in the release date meant that the evening was more of an introduction, a taster if you will, of what is to come in June. The evening kicked off with a play through of the album, and wow, what an album! Melodic, bluesy hard rock of the highest quality. But enough of that for now, there will be a review of the album in more detail on Midlands Rocks come release time. Back to the gig…
One of the Midlands hardest working bands, Twisted Species, opened proceedings, kicking off with perennial favourite, ‘Here I Stand’, before tearing into a sterling rendition of Black Label Society’s ‘Bleed For Me’. The Telford-based quartet have a style that is reminiscent of Black Stone Cherry-cum-Pearl Jam, an earthy, grungey sound that has echoes of the 90’s Seattle vibe but with a meatier, sparkier edge to it. The all too brief set also included tracks from their independently financed, soon-to-be-in-production album, both of which were well received by the assembled masses.
Setlist: Here I Stand, Bleed For Me, Powerstruggle, Slip Away, White Trash Millionaire, Hold Me Down
After a lightning fast change over, The Ki took to the stage. Also hailing from Telford, The Ki are more indie than rock, playing out like an Oasis/The Enemy/Biffy Clyro fusion with a vocal that is very much Pete Shelley in its tone, pitch and energy. No doubt talented guys with a very full sound, there was no time for hanging around as they stormed through a thirty minute set of self-penned numbers. Highly rated by the influential Kerrang!, The Ki are worth the checking out if the indie scene is your bag.
Setlist: Buy On, Signs, It’s Got Valves, Song For The Streets, Allison, Imaginary Frendz, Disco Room
I make no excuse or apology for being a big fan of The Whiskey Syndicate. I have been fortunate to have seen these guys in action a number of times over the last couple of years, and they have yet to turn in a bad performance. Their bluesy, ballzy, sleazy style of rock works on so many levels, appealing to all age groups and all preferences within the rock spectrum. The anticipation of the Wufrunian quartet playing on home turf, the chance to hear the new album before it’s released, and a crowd larger than any I have seen at The Slade Rooms, all created a palpable atmosphere that positively exploded as the band launched into ‘Living Fast’, the pace from then on in not letting up for a second. Featuring much of the forthcoming Right Side of Crazy album, each and every track could be a single in its own right. Ever daring to be just that little bit different, ‘Bareback’ featured a bass solo by prowling, scowling and pouting Richard Corry, whilst frontman Ant Wright gave a nice touch to Rock n’ Roller, dedicating it to absent friend Andrew ‘Spon’ Spencer*. Ant has a classic rock voice that reverberates and carries, perfectly suited to the at-times Skynyrd-esque Southern blues that they have off to a fine art. The man-at-the-back Stu Adams is an ace skinsman, powering each track forward without overpowering the songs, whilst Mike Davies exchanges power riffs with Ant Wright with electrifying results. Main set closer ‘Meaning Of Life’ is a colossus of a track, culminating in finger shredding riffs and a frantic energy, have to say, one of my personal all-time favourites. The encore was restricted to just the one song, ‘The Dark Side Of Your Mind’, which was met and signed off with rapturous applause, a fitting end to the evening.
The whole event was the culmination of over twelve months of gigging, writing and recording, and a near-full Slade Rooms was just reward for all that effort. The album promises to be one of those ‘must haves’ for any self-respecting fan of decent music; I for one can’t wait to get my grubby paws on it. As a colleague of mine aptly put it, “If you don’t like The Whiskey Syndicate, you’re dead inside.” Roll on June, can’t wait to share the love with the neighbours!
The Whiskey Syndicate Setlist: Living Fast, Right Side Of Crazy, Struck By The Light, Rise For Me – Bareback, Rock n’ Roller, Break The Chain, Jazz Bar – Meaning Of Life
Encore: Darker Side Of your Mind
And you can see more of Tony’s shots from the show below: