Category Archives: Live Reviews

SLATER – 93 Feet East, London, 13/12/2019

93 Feet East logo


93 Feet East, a venue situated at the halfway point of Brick Lane, a street in Shoreditch, an area of east London which has seen much gentrification in recent years, played host to five emerging outfits on the UK capital’s music scene.

It was 12 days before Christmas, so the festive party season was in full swing, hence a rather jolly atmosphere.

Last To Land band photo

Unfortunately, as I was running late, I didn’t manage to catch much of fledgling four-piece Last To Land‘s set, but what I did get to see of that was a band who were able to create a diversely-influenced yet cohesive mix of rock, alternative, and indie, which got the evening off to a good start.

Next up on stage were quartet Some People, who have quickly become a regular fixture on the London underground music scene with an indie sound that draws from a variety of genres, including rock, country, and soul, as well as a solid songwriting partnership of members Callum Dearden and Orson Fry.

However, through no fault of their own, the band’s set was plagued with technical difficulties, with some nasty microphone and amp feedback at times, but the crowd seemed to be enjoying it, dancing happily to the music, and it was clear, in the moments where there were no teething problems, that the four-piece are talented, showcasing a well-crafted sound.

The New Immigrants band photo

The stage was compact, so it was a minor miracle that all six members of The New Immigrants could fit on there.

Fusing together elements of folk, blues, rock, pop, and indie to create an original sound that contained escalating melodies, pummeling rhythms, and intertwining guitars, the relatively new collective spent much of their set actively encouraging the crowd to sing along to their songs, which a few audience members did, but the majority weren’t so keen on doing that.

A highlight of the band’s set was when they performed their recently released debut single, ‘Heavens Of Water‘, which is fast becoming a favourite among the six-piece’s growing fan base.

Next on stage were Sexton, formerly known as Meet The Fishermen, who played to an audience that had noticeably halved in size since The New Immigrants had been on, the reason for this being, I was later told by the gig’s promoter, was that much of the crowd had had to leave the venue in order to catch the last train back home.

Those who were still there, however, enthusiastically responded to Sexton‘s dynamic, powerful combination of alternative and indie-rock, as well as an animated stage performance, and frontman Joey‘s frequent bantering between tracks.

The band’s set was so positively-received that when it concluded, the audience demanded one more song, but as much as Sexton had wanted to, owing to timing constraints, it was a wish that wasn’t going to be granted.

Slater band photo

Headliners Slater have been hailed by much of the underground music press recently for a consistenly hard-hitting indie-rock n’ roll sound, and highly-energetic live performances, which was apparent pretty much throughout the trio’s set.

The crowd were a little sparse, but the people who were there were certainly making their voices heard, singing and clapping along happily to the tunes, and the outfit also injected a healthy dose of humour to proceedings, as with the penultimate song of the evening, frontman Harry was left on his own to play a stripped-back track on an acoustic guitar.

However, this wasn’t down to an on-stage falling out, as the two other members – bassist Reuben, and drummer Daniel – came back on for the finale, with Reuben wearing a dressing gown, and Daniel wearing a dinner jacket and bow tie, which was a rather surreal moment.

In conclusion, the gig was entertaining and a crowd-pleaser, with an assortment of immensely-talented fledgling collectives all bringing something sonically unique to the table, although they were often hampered by technical problems throughout that none of the bands could really be blamed for.





MALLORY KNOX – The Sugarmill, Hanley, 20/04/2018

Mallory Knox band photo 2

SUPPORT: Dead!, Judas


It may have only been mid-April, but whilst waiting outside for the doors of The Sugarmill in Hanley to open, the lowering rays of sunshine beating down made it feel like a pleasant mid-summer’s evening.

However, that certainly wasn’t on the minds of the predominantly youthful patrons queuing up to get into the venue, as they were eager to see three top bands in action, led by alternative rock juggernauts Mallory Knox, who had stopped by in the Potteries as part of their latest UK tour.

Once everybody had been admitted and settled in, the night’s musical entertainment was ready to begin in earnest.

Judas band photo

Opening proceedings were emerging indie-rock quartet Judas, currently based in London, but originating from all over Britain.

They have been tipped for big things by many in the music press, and judging by what I saw during their set, it was easy to see why.

Despite being a relatively young outfit, they already have a very strong setlist, which was played with much confidence and energy, with silky-smooth transitions between each track.

If there were any nerves from any of the four members while they were on stage, it certainly wasn’t evident, as it was clear that the outfit were having a good time, with frontman John Clancy engaging well with the crowd.

At the front, there were two rather over-excited audience members whooping throughout, some bands would have found this annoying, but not Judas, as John just simply smiled at them and told everyone, “Looks like we have two hardcore fans here tonight.

John further built up credentials with the crowd, dedicating the band’s set finale, and latest single, ‘Wonderland’, which they had recorded at the iconic Abbey Road studios, to everyone watching.

Judas got things off to a good start, and it surely won’t be too long before they will be back at venues like this one headlining.

Dead! band photo

Dead! are a band that when I first saw them play live two years ago in Derby (when Raveneye’s Adam Breeze was their drummer), were in pretty much the same optimistic situation that Judas currently find themselves in.

In the 24 months since, the four-piece have gone from strength to strength, signing a record contract, playing a host of respected festivals and venues, as well as releasing a well-received debut album.

All of that success, as well as a sizable following that just keeps on growing, could have gone to their heads, but here, they were more than happy to play second fiddle to Mallory Knox.

Dead!’s set was abundant with energy throughout, a real showcase for their aggressive style of playing, with frontman Alex Mountford giving a stage performance so animated that it seemed like he had been downing can after can of Red Bull a few minutes prior.

Even though I was stood at the back of the room, I could still see an immense volume of sweat pouring down his face, so much so that at one point towards the end, he had to take a huge gulp from his water bottle and pat himself dry with a towel.

Guitarist Sam Matlock has a Kurt Cobain-esque vibe to him, both in how he looks and the way he plays, and I’m confident that if Kurt was still with us now, he would be championing these guys.

It was clear, both by the way Dead! played, and the reaction they were getting from the crowd, that the band are now well on their way to becoming a real force to be reckoned with.

Following such a sublime set, it was going to be tough for Mallory Knox to top that, especially as it is still relatively early days for the headliners’ new Mikey Chapman-less line-up, and when I had chatted to the band’s guitarists, Joe Savins and James Gillett, earlier in the evening, they said themselves and the other members had been concerned throughout the tour whether their fans would accept Sam Douglas as the new frontman.

Mallory Knox band photo

However, the Cambridge four-piece needn’t have worried, as when they came on stage, one by one, there was such an almighty cheer from the crowd that they could have quite literally raised the roof off of The Sugarmill.

There were no drawn-out introductions following that, as the band launched full-throttle into their set, playing pretty much their entire back catalogue.

Sam wasn’t very animated, but he made the songs that had been sung originally by Mikey truly his own with a powerful vocal delivery.

When each track finished, the cheers grew louder and louder, and Sam did make a few references, albeit indirectly, to the tough time the collective had been having over the last couple of months, and when they had concluded, he took the time to thank everyone for sticking with them.

The set wasn’t very energetic, but it was effective, and it provided concrete proof that Mallory Knox have come through their recent trials and tribulations a stronger, more cohesive unit, and one that can look to the future with much optimism.








DREAM STATE – The Hairy Dog, Derby, 23/02/2018

SUPPORT: Chapter and Verse, Distant Blue

Dream State gig photo 1


Welsh alternative rock/post-hardcore quintet Dream State are currently a band very much on the up, having had a fantastic 2017, what with playing the Reading festival, becoming label mates with the likes of Architects and Northlane, and their single ‘White Lies’ getting over a million Spotify plays and 3.5 million YouTube views.

As part of the band’s recent UK headline tour, they stopped by at what I consider to be Derby’s premier rock and metal venue, The Hairy Dog, joined by Londoners Chapter and Verse and local lads Distant Blue, who were first up on stage.

The two major differences I noticed from when I had been at the venue in January to catch Canvas, Skywalker and Revealer, was that it seemed much busier, and that there must have been improvements made to the sound system, as you could literally feel the vibrations emanating from the instruments.

Distant Blue gig photo

Distant Blue played a decent set full of highly-energetic pop-punk, however, it was nothing spectacular, something the guys admitted when I spoke to them afterwards.

Unfortunately for them, there were a few teething problems, what with the tuning of the guitars, but on a positive note, they took it all in good humour, with frontman Ed Binding joking, “I really need to invest in a tuner!“, prompting some laughs from the crowd.

However, everything seemed to come together well for the quartet’s finale, their latest single, ‘Amber Leaf’, where they put on a flawless performance, and I noticed that some of the crowd were singing along to the lyrics.

Chapter And Verse gig photo

Chapter and Verse, the next outfit to play, made an atmospheric start, with the band’s vocalist Josh Carter standing still, singing softly.

After a few minutes of this, Josh then shouted to the crowd, “How you’re doing? We’re Chapter and Verse!“, ad at that moment, the stage, which up to that point, had been mostly shrouded in darkness, exploded into a burst of frantic light flashes.

At the same time, the sound became much more energetic, with the vocals becoming harsher.

It was a passionate set, with each of the four members, even drummer Ash Morton, being animated throughout, and listening to it, it was easy to understand why Metallica legend Lars Ulrich has given the lads his seal of approval.

Josh sure knows how to work a crowd, constantly rallying them, and asking everyone if they were enjoying themselves, which resulted in an almighty cheer erupting across the room.

However, when he asked them if they had enjoyed Distant Blue’s performance, there was a rather more muted response, which I personally thought was slightly hard on the young four-piece.

Before launching into another track, Josh shouted, “If you know the words to this, sing along. If you don’t, just make it up!

The band also previewed a few of the songs that will be featuring on their second EP, ‘Glow’, which the audience seemed to give their full approval, which bodes well for when the full EP is unveiled later this year.

Dream State gig photo 2

Even a band of Dream State’s current calibre would have struggled to top Chapter and Verse, but then, they haven’t been tipped to be one of Kerrang! magazine’s hottest bands of 2018 for nothing.

Frontwoman CJ Gilpin gave a performance that matched their sound, light and cheerful one minute, heavy and aggressive the next, which literally had everyone jumping and swaying about.

CJ was also frank about her battles with anxiety and depression, both through song and the banter she engaged in with the crowd in between.

It was during one of these instances that the most heartfelt moment of the evening occured, when she dedicated one of the tracks on the setlist to her beloved pet dog, who was being put down the following day.

Dream State gig photo 3

It is very rare that a band, no matter how big or small they are, has got the audience in the palms of their hands as effectively, and as quickly, as these guys.

It was little wonder then that when it was time for Dream State to depart the stage, pretty much the whole room was demanding an encore. After a couple of minutes, CJ emerged with her bandmates, laughed at the crowd, and joked, “You bastards!

They went on to play a few more songs, which everyone eagerly lapped up.

Dream State gig photo 4

Judging what I saw here, it will surely only be a small matter of time before Dream State, Chapter and Verse, and hopefully, Distant Blue, will be gracing bigger venues.

Dream State are playing at this summer’s Download festival, and if you’re going to that, then, if you can, please do make an effort to see them, you certainly won’t regret it.






CANVAS – The Hairy Dog, Derby, 12/01/2018

SUPPORT: Skywalker, Revealer

Canvas gig photo 1



Above the stage of The Hairy Dog, fast becoming the go-to place in Derby to check out some great rock and metal, was a sign saying, “If We’re Going To Do It, We’re Going To Do It Loud!“, and that was exactly what post-hardcore quintet Canvas, accompanied by Czechs Skywalker and Leicestershire metalcore outfit Revealer, had on their agenda.

There were supposed to be four collectives on the bill, however, just a few days before, Essex melodic hardcore band Create To Inspire had to pull out, understandably, due to a unforeseen family emergency.

However, despite their absence, it still promised to be a good evening.

Revealer gig photo

Revealer kicked things off by going hell for leather with a set abundant in brutality and intensity, which perfectly complimented their sound.

Frontman Alex Griffiths, was particularly menacing throughout, screaming himself hoarse with a deep, growling vocal delivery, and constantly looked as if he was going to jump off the stage and pick a fight with somebody in the crowd.

However, he broke from this persona for a moment when he took the time to dedicate one of their songs to a close friend of the band, who had sadly passed away recently.

Alex then pulled his coat hood up and stared down at the floor for a few seconds, before launching himself back into full flow as the track kicked in.

Judging by their stage presence, and the reaction to the music from the audience, it surely won’t be too long before Revealer are playing on larger stages to bigger gatherings.

Skywalker gig photo

Having chatted with the lead vocalist of Skywalker, Jay Kutcher, prior to the gig, he came across as a calm, polite, softly-spoken young man, but he was anything but that while his bandmates were playing.

This was a good thing, though, because it better enabled him to really do the frank lyrical matter, along with a combination of post-hardcore and subtle pop-punk, justice.

It was clear whilst I was watching them that the Prague five-piece had a natural enthusiasm for performing live, it seemed that everybody on that stage was really living in the moment, with Jay confidently engaging in witty banter with the crowd, telling everybody to be 100% positive in 2018, and it offered a concrete explanation for why they have such a stellar gigging reputation in the UK and much of Europe.

Canvas gig photo 2

With no offence to the other bands, who had put on brilliant sets in their own rights, it was obvious that Canvas were the guys everyone had to come to see, with many in the crowd wearing a T-shirt adorned with an eye shedding lots of tears, the collective’s logo, which also took pride of place at the back of the stage.

They played an impressive set, with each of the five members on top form, showing exactly why they had gone down so well on their European tour last autumn.

Canvas gig photo 3

Unlike Jay and Alex, who had both given animated performances, Canvas’s frontman Ricky Clarke elected to stand in front of the microphone, tilting his head to one side so his long locks covered one of his eyes, and just scream the lyrics out with much angst.

Canvas gig photo 4

They must have worked very hard on getting every aspect of their live set right, but they did it with such professionalism that it seemed, in a good way, that very little effort had been made.

Overall, it was an evening in which, despite the rather low turnout, all three outfits playing brought everything they could to the table, resulting in a show that was loud, brash and entertaining.




CHORDS AGAINST CANCER II – The Old Star, Uttoxeter, 27/10/2017

Chords Against Cancer II poster



Last year, Matt Hudson and Rhys Bryan, the duo who make up Staffordshire heavy metal outfit Doomsday Sun, put on an evening of live sets performed by an assortment of talented Midlands rock and metal bands in their local town of Uttoxeter, in aid of Macmillan Cancer Research.

Following the huge success of that, it was inevitable that another evening would be on the cards, and so, towards the end of October, the town’s go-to place for rock, The Old Star, a pub situated just behind Uttoxeter’s market place, prepared to play host to the second Chords Against Cancer.

Birmingham sextet Failure Is An Option were the first band on, however, due to them being stuck in the Friday rush hour traffic, they were late arriving, meaning their set, and the evening, had a delayed start.

Failure Is An Option band photo

Nobody seemed to mind, though, to be honest with you, their lateness probably helped, as by the time they got on the stage, situated outdoors in the pub’s beer garden, the place was already packed.

For the majority of the gigs that I have covered in the almost two years that Muzak Review has been going, the opening outfit has often played to a sparse, slightly uninterested crowd, but this was truly an exception, as it seemed that every rock and metal enthusiast from Uttoxeter and the surrounding area was in attendance.

The Brummies launched full throttle into their performance, impressing with an intense mix of metalcore, post-hardcore and djent.

Brandon Hart, one of the band’s two vocalists, added some humour to proceedings, teasing Matt Jeffries, his fellow vocalist, for his support of fallen football giants Aston Villa, and asking the audience to express sympathy for him.

Also during the set, Brandon grabbed one of the yellow plastic buckets that were being used for the venue’s patrons to make a donation, pointed at it, and went into full Bob Geldof at Live Aid mode, shouting, “Put some fucking money in there!

Credit to the six-piece for getting the evening off to a good start.

Next up were an emerging local band by the name of Vox Populi. Doing some homework on the bands in the run-up to the event, I hadn’t been able to find much info on these guys, so their set was the very first time that i had heard their music.

Vox Populi band photo

They gave a strong performance, playing a sound that was reminiscent of Rage Against The Machine, with the inclusion of some lengthy instrumentals.

Their frontman, Lee Sellers, rather like Brandon before him, used the interludes between songs as an outlet for some humorous banter.

It was under Vox Populi’s watch that we had our first moshpit of the night, with some members of the crowd rushing up to the edge of the stage and engaging in some playful shoving, with one even taking the opportunity, when the band had finished, to get up and take a small leap off the stage.

As I was doing an interview with Failure Is An Option at the time Afterburn started to play, I missed the first half, which was a shame, but I managed to finish things just in time for a fantastic cover of the Steppenwolf classic, ‘Born To Be Wild’, which, along with their sound harking back to classic metal, had some of the more seasoned crowd members lapping it up.

Afterburn band photo

The Chesterfield quintet ended their set by premiering a brand new track, which they said beforehand was a little different to what they had done up to now.

However, the song got the same positive reaction as the rest of their set list.

The fourth band, and the second local outfit, of the evening were five-piece King Abyss.

King Abyss gig photo

Even before they had played a single note, they were cheered, and that’s the good thing about small town music scenes, like I saw with Anonymous at the same venue on a couple of occasions, and last year with Rage Cave in Newcastle-under-Lyme, the bands are well supported, and that would have been the case even if King Abyss had played their entire set completely out of tune and littered with mistakes.

However, that was certainly not the case, as they brought the place down with a mix of aggressive thrash metal and more melodic fare. With all five band members having different artistic styles, they managed to join it all up together well, to create a sound that was truly original.

Having chatted with two of the guys, Sam and Jay, prior to the start of the event, they had said to me that they prioritise playing the best possible live set. This determination, as well as playing on home turf, definitely helped them in pulling off a great performance.

Even though it will be harder for them to energise the crowd like they did here when they play in other towns and cities, where they are not as well-known, having watched them for the first time here, I had the same gut feeling that I had had when I first saw Anonymous three years ago, and I’ve seen since, first-hand, how well they have proved themselves in other places.

The final performance of the night came from headliners Doomsday Sun. You could immediately sense that their set wasn’t going to be a jolly one, with a placard saying “THE END IS NIGH” in big letters just in front of the stage, as well as the dark suits and make-up the duo were both wearing. However, their attire befitted their doom-enriched metal sound.

Doomsday Sun band photo

As they played tracks from their well-received EP, ‘Red Light Fever’, their output was thought-provoking, reflecting on a post-apocalyptic world. Judging by recent world events, the two were probably giving everyone a taster of what to expect, should any of the major world leaders press the big red button.

Doomsday Sun are an outfit that hark back to an age where musical talent was deemed higher than good looks, and I personally believe, if they start getting more exposure, then in a couple of years, they could be a real force to be reckoned with.

The Midlands was the birthplace of heavy metal, and it was good to see, even now, that the region still has an abundance of great talent in that genre.

It was a great night, made even better by the fact that it was all in aid of a good cause.










DERBY ALT FEST 2.0 – The Hairy Dog, Derby, 30/09/2017

Derby Alt Fest 2.0 poster


As September drew to a close, The Hairy Dog, fast establishing itself as a key venue on the Derby music scene, played host to an all-day rock and metal festival comprising of many local bands, with a few coming from out of town especially, including headliners To Kill Achilles, who had travelled all the way down from Dundee.

The weather wasn’t very good, and unfortunately, some of the outfits scheduled to play had to pull out prior to the day, but it seemed, in the run-up to the opening act, everybody there was in good spirits.

Getting the second Derby Alt Fest off to a loud, energetic start were A Hundred Crowns, a six-piece from Nottingham.

They were initially going to open proceedings on the second stage, situated upstairs, but were moved to the main stage.

Entering the room containing the main stage, I couldn’t help but laugh at seeing a large arrow hanging from above with “TWAT” written in big letters, but anyway, back to the opening band, and despite playing in front of a sparse attendance, which unfortunately often is the case with the first outfit on, they played a gutsy, intense fusion of metalcore and post-hardcore, with a mix of harsh and melodic vocals.

A Hundred Crowns gig photo

Being relatively new, their set was rather limited in terms of songs, but what they didn’t have in quantity they had in quality.

Finishing off with their debut single, ‘The Highs’, A Hundred Crowns got a good reception from the few people who were there.

Next up on the main stage were fellow Nottingham outfit Infirm Of Purpose, who also had a debut single to promote.

Their set comprised of an intense metal sound, backed up by synthesisers and turntables. The use of these instruments gave the five-piece, of which two had helped to organise the whole day, a electronicore and dubstep flavour.

Infirm Of Purpose gig photo

Watching frontman Josh Blackshaw give a performance abundant in high energy, I wouldn’t have been surprised if prior to going on stage, he had drunk about ten cans of Red Bull.

As their half-hour came to an end, the crowd area had started to fill up, with two or three bobbing their heads aggressively to the music.

However, by the time thrash metallers Hellrazor started on stage, the audience had trickled down to a select few.

Not that there seemed to be any anger from the band about this, their vocalist actually took the opportunity to make a few tongue-in-cheek references, one of which being, “Hope you enjoyed that, all four of you!

Hellrazor band photo

Regardless of this, the set was enjoyable, with the local outfit playing passionately, with catchy riffs and heavy headbangers galore, influenced by “The Big Four” of metal, as well as more classic collectives of the genre.

Hellrazor were also a member down, and Tom, a guitarist who had come in at the last minute to fill in, did a stellar job. It was like he had been a part of the band for years.

After that, it was time to venture upstairs to the second stage to see local metalcore six-piece Buried And Forgotten, where the room was so compact, not all of the members could stand on the stage, so the two vocalists decided to perform in front.

Being in such a confined space, you could really get up close to them, literally feeling the sweat pouring from their foreheads as the whole band opted for full-on aggression.

Buried And Forgotten band photo

The frontmen even got one of the merchandise people to come and join them for a brief mosh. With both of them having long hair, it was as if the merchandiser was being enveloped by their flowing locks.

After all of that, it was back downstairs for This.Is.Hate’s set. Having chatted earlier in the day with the band’s lead vocalist, and another festival organiser, Liam Barlow, he had told me that he saved up all of his aggression for the stage, and judging by his stage presence, he was right.

This.Is.Hate gig photo

With a sound, that in Liam’s words, was “heavy as fuck!“, you could tell that the outfit were pouring their souls into producing the best possible live set.

With some of their set list, they also showcased a groovier and heavier sound, which shows how mature the guys are becoming with their songwriting.

Immediately following them were Bury The Traitor. The Derby quintet had a heavy yet melodic sound that drew from a wide range of musical influences, and they used the stage as a good opportunity on which to exploit this to a high standard.

Bury The Traitor gig photo

They took their music seriously, but didn’t let it get in the way of them having a great time during their performance, with all five of the band seeming to bond really well as a unit, which definitely came across while I was watching them.

Serious” is probably a word alien to Raised By Owls, judging by their eccentricities, which were on full show during their time on stage.

From the moment they entered to the theme tune from Ski Sunday, I knew that it wasn’t in their nature to play a bog-standard set.

Television theme tunes played an important role throughout, acting as little intervals between the tracks, with the crowd also being treated to the themes of Chucklevision and Murder, She Wrote.

Raised By Owls gig photo

The songs themselves showcased effectively their brand of surreal humour, with avant-garde lyrics set to snarling vocals and very heavy guitar riffs.

As well as moshing to the angry sound, the audience were in fits of laughter.

If there had been an award given out to the most original band of the day, Raised By Owls would have won by a country mile.

I had had the pleasure of interviewing Skies In Motion when I had been at the Macmillan Fest in Nottingham at the beginning of September.

Unfortunately, I didn’t get the chance to see them that day as their stage time clashed with an interview I was doing.

Skies In Motion band photo

This meant that this time, I was determined not to miss them, and I’m glad I didn’t, as they were impressive throughout, playing a number of well-crafted compositions, taken from both their overwhelmingly positively received recent debut album, ‘Life Lessons’, and other offerings.

In the past, the band have played with the likes of Killswitch Engage and Skindred, and after seeing their excellent performance, the passion they put into everything they do, and their rapidly rising profile, the local outfit are seemingly well on their way to emulating those two.

Another of the collectives that I can comfortably say have a strong work ethic were headliners To Kill Achilles.

To Kill Achilles band photo

The Scotsmen’s job was to bring proceedings on the main stage, and the entire day, to a close, and they did it in some style, literally raising the roof off with a powerful set comprising of a unique brand of melodic metalcore, incorporating the use of other musical genres such as pop, rock and emo, coupled with frank and personal lyrics.

All in all, the festival was a great way of boosting the profile of Derby on the British rock and metal scene, full of entertaining bands that were truly passionate about what they played, but were not afraid to enjoy themselves as well.

I presume, judging by this year’s success, that the Derby Alt Fest 3.0 is on the cards for 2018.





MACMILLAN FEST 2017 – Nottingham, 02/09/2017

Macmillan Fest 2017 poster


PHOTOS of The Treatment by CALLUM GROVE

As the summer festival season drew to a close for another year, a corner of the centre of Nottingham was taken over by the Macmillan Fest, which was now in its eighth year raising money and awareness for the great cause that is Macmillan Cancer Support, and has become a fixture of the city’s rock music calendar.

This was my second time covering it for this site, and in terms of the weather on the day, there was no comparison to the first.

Last year, the festival took place under grey skies and torrential rain, but this year, it was blue skies and glorious sunshine all the way.

With the opening bands kicking off their sets around half past one, I got to the press accreditation tent, situated around the back of the legendary venue that is Rock City, as the clock struck 1pm.

Having got my wristband and press pass, I made my way into the Black Cherry Lounge, an adjacent nightclub that was doubling for the day as a press and band preparation area.

There, you could see roadies shifting equipment about, vocalists undertaking rigorous singing exercises, and musicians making final tweaks to their instruments before they ventured on stage.

With my first interview of the day, with Welsh post-hardcore quartet Holding Absence, under my belt, it was time to head over to the Rescue Rooms, which was playing host to the majority of the day’s sets, with the building holding three of the stages. It lacks the prestige of its neighbour, but is a great venue nonetheless.

Opening up the place’s main stage were local metal five-piece Centurion. They had earned that spot on the bill after winning the festival’s Battle of the Bands competition back in June, and judging by their live performance, it was easy to see how they had won.

Centurion gig photo

The set was delivered with much feistiness, whether it was coming from the strong vocals and stage presence of frontwoman Esme Knight, or the band’s sound, much influenced by the classic metal of Iron Maiden, Judas Priest and “The Big Four”.

It must have been daunting for them to be the opening act, what with being handed the task of warming up the crowd, who at this point in proceedings, had yet to really get into the swing of things, but after seeing the band perform such a confident set, actively involving themselves with the audience, it seems to have been taken with relish.

Directly upstairs from this, another band native to Nottingham were playing another strong set.

Say The Word are classed as a pop-punk outfit, but their sound is not stereotypical of the genre, with the quartet also taking influence from the likes of the Foo Fighters and Bruce Springsteen.

Say The Word band photo

With more of a compact space, the crowd were able to get up, close and personal with the band members, who all performed with high energy, which by its conclusion, had left them, and much of the patrons, covered in sweat.

Currently enjoying a rising reputation, this was probably the last time you would have had the opportunity to see them play such an intimate stage.

After that, I decided to cool down by taking a little stroll outside around the back of the Rescue Rooms, where there were stalls offering free samples of whisky, charity head shaves, clothing and other merchandise, as well as a barbecue and a raffle (with a cuddly Chewbacca as one of the main prizes).

Then, it was back to the Black Cherry Lounge to conduct some interviews, which you will be able to see on this site shortly.

All of the bands I chatted with, including locals Skies In Motion and Beckon Lane, Lincoln outfit Borders, and one of the headliners, Hacktivist, who had recently supported Korn, were comprised of nice, down-to-earth guys. You could tell that they were there to raise money and awareness for a worthy cause, rather than using the festival as an opportunity to inflate their egos.

One of these were metalcore five-piece Our Hollow, Our Home, who were performing a stone’s throw away in the basement of Rock City, and their set will be looked back on by the people who were there to see them as one of the highlights of the day.

Our Hollow, Our Home band photo

The Southampton quintet certainly knew how to work the crowd, with heavy sounds that made you feel as if there was an earthquake going on, and the frontman actively encouraging the crowd to form a moshpit, which gradually grew from just a few die-hard fans at the front, to, by the set’s conclusion, pretty much the entire room, creating an electric atmosphere.

On my way to the Rescue Rooms to see one of the main draws, heavy rock five-piece The Treatment, I bumped into a devout fan of theirs who told me that this would be the 13th time he had seen them live.

Having not seen them play in the flesh once, I thought they must put on a great show if they’re good enough to have been seen that many times, and they certainly didn’t disappoint.

The Treatment gig photo 1

The Cambridge outfit are now at the stage where they can attract a devoted following wherever they play, and this was made clear with the almighty roar, more akin to that experienced at a football match, the crowd gave when they emerged onto stage.

They started playing at full throttle, and even towards the end of their hour-and-a-bit set, not one of the band members showed any signs of slowing down, performing with energy in abundance.

The Treatment gig photo 2

The quintet’s enthusiasm was matched by the audience, who were eagerly singing along, word for word, to the lyrics, even to the tracks from their most recent album ‘Generation Me’, as well as bobbing their heads to a sound that was a mix of classic rock, heavy metal and punk.

The Treatment gig photo 4

The Treatment really do know how to work a crowd, with frontman Mitch Emms issuing rallying cries in between an intense vocal delivery, and the guitarists, comprising of two brothers, treating them to some great riffery.

The Treatment gig photo 3

I would highly recommend seeing this band at your earliest opportunity, because in this age of Autotune, much choreography and where image is seen as more important than talent, it was refreshing to see something where real rock ‘n’ roll played by gifted musicians took centre stage.

Some have said in the recent past that rock is dead, but judging from what I saw across the stages, these people must have a defeatist attitude, because if you look beyond the mainstream and delve just a little into the underground, you will pleasantly find that it is actually in very rude health.

My review can’t end without me acknowledging everyone who selflessly gave up their free time and worked incredibly hard in order to make sure such a substantial event ran like clockwork, and that as much money and awareness as possible was raised for Macmillan Cancer Support, a great charity that helps people unfortunate enough to be diagnosed with a terrible illness that has devastated the lives of many people over the years.

















MALTHOUSE – The Exchange, Hanley, 04/03/2017

SUPPORT: The Red Kites, Tom Lockett, Rachel Ferguson

Malthouse review photo


The Exchange is a place that has firmly established itself as a key venue on the Stoke-on-Trent music scene in recent years, and it had a great opportunity to show exactly why with a Saturday evening playing host to a mix of local musical talent.

Headlining were modern soul/blues trio Malthouse, who were there to give everyone a sneak preview of their forthcoming EP ‘Extracts Of The Soul’.

Kicking things off was singer-songwriter Rachel Ferguson, a relative newcomer to the Potteries. Despite a sparse crowd, she impressed those that were there, playing a set that consisted of her gently strumming a guitar to a sound that fused together elements of folk, alternative and lounge, coupled with a vocal delivery reminiscent of Lana Del Rey.

Next up was another Stoke singer-songwriter, Tom Lockett, who already enjoys a good local reputation. He proved this, channelling his inner Bob Dylan (complete with harmonica!) with a strong performance, mixing intelligent lyrics with a sound that was a combination of folk, jazz, blues and Sixties psychedelia. After seeing Tom, it is clear that a bright future lies ahead for him.

By the time last support The Red Kites took to the stage, the venue had started to fill up nicely, and the people who had just turned up were in for a treat. The outfit played a quality set, utilising a diverse range of musical genres to create a sound that was eclectic and a good listen.

There was much anticipation in the run-up to Malthouse’s headline set, with the now capacity crowd eager to see if their forthcoming release, which they were playing for the first time live, could top their well-received debut EP ‘Staveley Sessions’.

Judging by what I saw of them, it is safe to say that they have done exactly this. The new tracks they performed showcased how they have matured and developed, and I could also definitely get the feeling of abundant passion from them, which was present in the way they played their music. The audience seemed to agree, giving a universal positive response, which shows much promise for the recorded version, which will be out soon.

Yet again, going to a live gig in Stoke-on-Trent has proved to me that the local scene is currently one of the best-kept secrets in British music, and if the city is chosen later this year to succeed Hull as the UK’s City of Culture, then the rest of the country will get to find out just how rich and diverse it truly is.




CONSTRUCT – The Underground, Hanley, 18/02/2017

SUPPORT: Inscriptions, Despoiled, 2 Years 2 Late




The metalheads of Stoke-on-Trent were out in force at the weekend to see local lads Construct perform in front of a home crowd.

The metal quintet were in town as part of a tour promoting their recently released debut album ‘The Deity’.

Waiting outside for the doors to open, I couldn’t help thinking that there seemed to be a more sizeable queue than usual, most of them in no doubt eager to see how the five-piece could translate the sound of the album into an effective live performance.

However, before all that, there were three local outfits, all varying in experience, to see.

First up were young band 2 Years 2 Late, who were playing their first ever live set.

Despite a rather shaky beginning, which was understandably down to nerves, they quickly began to relax and grew in confidence as the set went on, so much so that towards the end, the guys were showing the crowd what they were truly capable of.

Next on stage were Despoiled, also a fledgling outfit but with more gig experience, and a much louder, heavier sound, which along with the constant screaming vocal delivery of frontman Kurt Kennedy, contributed to the formation of the first moshpit of the night.

Despoiled are a band that evidently improve with each set, and if they carry on the way they have, then it should only be a matter of time before they are headlining a venue like this one.

Inscriptions, the final support, are currently almost at the same level as Construct, and this was evident in their stage performance. They provided a great warm-up, nicely setting the stage for the headliners and making their job of creating a good atmosphere much less difficult.

By the time Construct were ready to begin, the venue was buzzing and there was a sense of genuine excitement in the air.


The Potteries quintet showed exactly why they are tipped to make a big impact this year, adapting the sound of ‘The Deity’ for a live set with relative ease. They also had confidence in abundance, playing a heavy, loud metal sound with progressive elements, and involving the audience as much as they possibly could, with frontman Callum Howle frequently issuing rallying cries to make as much noise and moshing as possible in a place as compact as The Underground, resulting in the room becoming one massive moshpit.


Construct are a band that are now getting national exposure, and if every performance on the tour was like the one I witnessed, then it should be very easy for them to leave the same good impressions at venues up and down the country, and their fast-expanding fan base in unanimous agreement that the money they paid for a ticket was an amount well spent.









BLACK STAR BULLET – The Rigger, Newcastle-under-Lyme, 07/01/2017

SUPPORT: Jesse’s Divide, Infinity



The Rigger, a rock venue on the outskirts of Newcastle-under-Lyme, played host to three bands who were the perfect cure for the January blues.

Being the first full weekend of 2017 and after the festivities of Christmas and New Year, it would have been understandable if the attendance had been sparser than usual, but I saw absolutely no evidence of this, with a sizable audience, a real mix of young and more seasoned rockers, packing into the intimate space.

Local outfits Jesse’s Divide and Infinity were the best possible warm-ups, both playing a big, crowd pleasing sound, led by two frontmen who were naturals in this position, showing much confidence with their rallying of the patrons, but crucially, not letting themselves overshadow the music.

Infinity were great as always, they seem to have really grown as a band since I first saw them last year, with the whole group on top form, playing well their style of melodic hard rock.

Jesse’s Divide were an outfit who showed total concentration, perfecting their blend of progressive metal and alternative rock, containing some brilliant guitar solos.

However, this did not stop them from having fun, with vocalist/guitarist Simon Ward interacting freely with the audience, even throwing in some free custard doughnuts for them to enjoy.

Therefore, it must have been quite a job for Coventry headliners Black Star Bullet to top all that, but they rose to the challenge and easily succeeded, wowing the crowd with a set consisting mainly of good old fashioned, no frills heavy rock, which was of no doubt of high and wide appeal.

Overall, it was a very enjoyable evening watching three Midlands bands who vary in experience, but all have these important common factors: they definitely know how to play to an audience, and are all of immense talent.