Review and pictures by Andy Boden and Emma Boden
I have to admit, the prospect of the first Emma Scott Presents… gig of the year had me positively salivating. Two last minute drop-outs necessitated a change in the under-card, but Ms Scott pulled off a major coup by securing the services of popular local bands Shatter Effect and Venom & Apathy.
Walsall based Venom & Apathy opened up with an entertaining half hour of decent hard rock. Featuring the voodoo-esque caricature of Greg Boden on bass, they entertained the assembled masses with a hard rocking set that will have made them plenty of new friends. Certainly worth keeping an eye out for.
Zombie Xtras are a Black Country band of the heavier, darker persuasion. Personally, the bellowing, growling end of the rock/metal spectrum has never appealed, as, in many cases, it tends to cover shortcomings in the vocal department. I feared the worst as the opening track kicked in, but my fears were allayed as the set progressed as frontman Fozz proved that he can sing as well as growl! Taking elements of ‘the big four’ they left the stage to generous – and well deserved - applause.
Shatter Effect, hailing from Wolverhampton, are indeed a completely different prospect. Stepping in at the last minute is never easy, but Shatter Effect took to the task with fervour and rapidly won over the crowd with their electro-rock, groovier kind of vibe. Fleetwood Mac and Moloko sprang to mind, but Shatter Effect have a class and a style all of their own that should see them do well in the future. Despite performing to what, I am guessing, would not be their normal target audience, they went down a proverbial storm.
Biggest surprise of the evening for me were Grace The Skies. First thing that struck me was that GTS don’t have ‘the look’ of your archetypal metal band. But don’t let that fool you, Grace The Skies have an immensely full and powerful sound which is enhanced by the stunning vocal prowess of multi-skilled frontman Chris Dando. In the vein of Avenged Sevenfold, GTS powered through a 45 minute set of enjoyable anthemic, arms-aloft songs. As headliners or as support, check out Grace The Skies, you will not be disappointed.The Whiskey Syndicate. The band are putting the final touches to their eagerly anticipated album (due April), and have structured the set-list around tracks from that album. Last year’s roof-raising appearance at the O2 Academy in Birmingham confirmed that TWS are indeed one of the hottest properties on the rock circuit, building a reputation based on their high energy, maximum impact stage show.
Traditional opener ‘Living Fast’ launches us headlong into a powerhouse set of bluesy, hard edged, melodic rock. The twin guitars of Ant Wright and Mike Davies weave and interchange complex, fingers shredding riffs, whilst ace skinsman Stu Adams and bassist Richard Corry drive the songs forward with craft and energy. Ant Wright has a fine set of pipes, and effortlessly thunders through nearly an hour and a half without drawing breath. New tracks from the album, including ‘Right Side of Crazy’ and ‘Break The Chain’ sit comfortably with more tried and tested tracks, whilst the headline slot afforded the band the time and the opportunity to slip in stirring renditions of ‘Whole Lotta Love’ and ‘Twentieth Century Boy’. Ant Wright is a natural frontman and clearly revelled in appearing on home turf, engaging in between-the-songs banter with the sell-out crowd and joshing (and getting wet) with his compadres. As the set drew to a close with ‘Meaning of Life’ (from their recent EP) it was evident what the evening meant to the band, and calls for an encore were rewarded with the epic ‘Darker Side Of Your Mind’.
The Whiskey Syndicate Setlist: Living Fast - Rise For Me – Struck By The Light – Skin n Bones – Break The Chains - Jazz Bar – Bare Back Love Rat - Right Side Of Crazy – Whole Lotta Love – Twentieth Century Boy - Meaning Of Life – Encore: Darker Side Of Your Mind
And you can see the photos from the gig here...