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Black Spiders + Slaves to Gravity + Voodoo Johnson + Liberty Lies @ The Slade Rooms, Wolverhampton - Monday 26th April 2010

Review by Jason Guest

Photos by Samantha Knight

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Liberty Lies come on stage to a crowd of about twenty five. There are two ways that bands usually approach a small Monday night crowd: either dejectedly get through the set as quickly as possible, or make their presence felt. Frontman Shaun goes for the latter, grabs the evening by the throat and bellows from his balls, “How you doin’ Wolverhampton?” and the band blast straight into ‘The Wire’, the opening track from their soon-to-be-officially-released EP ‘New Addiction’. The song has great sleaze-rock riffs and a catchy chorus that goes down a treat with the diminutive crowd. There is a buzz in the air already and Liberty Lies are setting a precedent for the evening.
I saw these guys in July 2009 and was impressed with them then. Tonight, their set showed how much they’ve matured in less than a year. They’ve been working hard at it and it shows. The band dynamic has shifted gears and their song-writing has developed immensely and their collective onstage persona is electrifying. Shaun engages with the crowd, getting them to clap along, guitarist Josh is reading from the Hendrix/Slash/Page bible of guitar licks, Dan holds his own stage right, throwing out classic rock riffs and solos, and Matt and Adam hold down the rhythm section, hitting their instruments as if their life depended on it.

As they were playing, the crowd slowly grew and by the last two songs of their set, there were about a hundred folks watching. And at the end, those hundred folks were clapping and cheering, no doubt most of them wishing they’d got here a little earlier. Not bad for a twenty five minute set, huh? They’ll be back in the Slade Rooms on 4th June for their official EP launch. You need to be there.

After a short absence from the live scene, Voodoo Johnson make a welcome return to the stage. And judging by the number of VJ t-shirts in here tonight, they have been missed. Frontman Kev continuously thanks the crowd for coming out tonight and making their return an enjoyable one. He needn’t have done because their set was thanks enough. They pick up where Liberty Lies left off and take the crowd even higher, delivering the quality of set that we’ve come to expect from this company of classic rockers: supreme songs, masterful musicianship, and a set that’s as water tight as a troll’s tail end.

VJ favourites ‘Bad Habit’ and ‘Seven Years’ make a welcome appearance and are greeted by the bands stalwart fans with huge cheers and applause. With the final touches being made to their new album, VJ play a few tracks for their fans longing for its arrival. The songs have the VJ stamp all over them. The crowd love the new songs and are soon singing along to the catchy choruses and rocking out as if they already know them by heart: a great indicator of what the album holds for us!

On stage, Dave’s drums are as huge and precise as ever, tightly bound to Rich’s rumbling bass, the Gethin’s guitars compliment each other in sound and riffage, and Kev, as ever, is the cool frontman that holds the crowd in his hand. Last time I saw VJ was supporting Black Spiders and The Answer at Nottingham’s Rock City where they won over a huge audience. The live scene has missed VJ and tonight was a blissful reminder of why. Now, when is that fucking album gonna be delivered?

London rockers Slaves to Gravity are quick to pick up on the energy of the room laid out before them and their set is mascara and might, pomp and pop, rock and fucking roll! Singer/guitarist Tommy Gleeson is an awesome frontman, a great

voice with a magnetic stage persona; bassist Toshi Ogawa is energy embodied and leaps, bounds and bounces all over the stage; lead guitarist Mark Verney hurls out lick after luscious lick; and new guy Jason Bowld hits the skins with all his might and never once stops smiling. Together, they look how they sound: slick.

Currently between record labels, STG play songs from the hopefully-soon-to-be-released new album UNDERWATEROUTERSPACE and tracks from earlier releases. Each tune is as catchy as the next with enormous riffs, superb choruses, and harmonies to die for. The band dynamic is high-energy and serves to intensify the already buzzing atmosphere. The crowd love them and their reception reflects the energy of the evening. Tonight is one hell of a night out. Tonight STG brought the party to us and we loved it!

Following three bands that have delivered three stunning sets and turned a Monday into a Friday can’t be the most attractive of prospects. So what do the Black Spiders who were here two weeks ago supporting Oz-rockers Airbourne do? They blow everyone else away with a set that’s manic, perverse, and brimming with an uncontainable energy that should (if indeed it could) be bottled and force-fed to OAPs as a last reminder of what it is to be alive before they kick the bucket. How the Slade Rooms’ stage holds these guys, I don’t know.

From start to finish, The Spider, The Owl, The Shark, The Fox, and The Tiger hit us with beefy Brit Rock toon after toon! ‘St Peter’ makes an appearance, as does ‘Stay Down’ and ‘Just like a Woman’, songs that should be staples of any music fan’s playlist. This is what a rock ‘n roll performance should be: three-guitar attacks that cut through the crap, low-slung bass lines deeper than the Kraken’s cellar, twisted gurning from a demented drummer, and hair hanging on to its owners scalp for dear life.

“Fuck you Black Spiders!” comes the call from the stage. “Fuck you Black Spiders!” we answer, loud. Again, “Fuck you Black Spiders!” We answer, louder. And again, “Fuck you Black Spiders!” louder. Yeah, fuck you Black Spiders! We want an album! Give it to us now!

 And bonus of bonuses, the gig was sponsored by Jagermeister and so free samples of the pleasing poison were being given away at the merch stall! A free tipple goes down so much better at gigs like these... but we still want those albums!

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Check Sam's pix below: