Tag Archives: Live Reviews

THE SHERLOCKS – The Sugarmill, Hanley, 19/09/2016





2016 so far has been a year to remember for Sheffield indie/alternative outfit The Sherlocks.

The band, comprising of two sets of brothers, have enjoyed regular airplay on BBC Radios 1 and 6 Music, they have been championed as one to watch by the music press, and they even went to Texas in March to play the prestigious South by Southwest festival.

They were in Hanley as part of a nationwide tour promoting their new single “Will You Be There?”

Support acts Blaenavon and local boys RINSE have also been tipped to go on to bigger and better things, and if their sets were anything to go by, then they both have bright futures ahead of them.

I first saw RINSE only four months ago, and even though they were good then, they now seem to have definitely taken things up to another level.

Blaenavon, not from the Welsh town but actually from Hampshire, played a confident set, with energy in abundance from all three members.

Young frontman Ben Gregory had the crowd in the palm of his hand with a stage presence that could have belonged to a musician with many more years of experience behind them.

After two solid support performances, The Sherlocks must have been feeling the pressure when the time came for them to get under way, but there was absolutely no evidence of this during their set.


The crowd were instantly hooked on the fast-paced sound, complimented by the melodic vocals of frontman Kiaran Crook.

Their new single, “Will You Be There?” has a rather heavier, more guitar-led sound than what they have done before, but they pulled it off brilliantly and I can see this song as a possible chart breakthrough for them.


Overall, with their set, The Sherlocks showed exactly why they are possibly being seen as the biggest indie band to come out of the Steel City since the Arctic Monkeys just over a decade ago.




MACMILLAN FEST – Nottingham, 03/09/2016

Macmillan Fest Preview photo



Seven stages, almost seventy bands, one day.

The seventh Macmillan Fest took place in Nottingham on a grey, rain-laden Saturday afternoon in early September.

Despite the torrential downpour outside, it didn’t seem to dampen anybody’s spirits, as they had something else on their minds: to enjoy a day of quality rock, supplied by some top bands.

But the bands were not here to line their pockets with the revenue, they were here mainly for a good cause: to raise money and awareness for Macmillan Cancer Support, with the organisers hopeful of adding to the £20,000 they have raised over the last seven years.

The festival got going at 1pm in the main hall of the legendary Rock City venue, with Leeds female-fronted hard rock outfit Chasing Dragons getting things off to a good start with a heavy, fast-paced set.


An hour later, it was time to venture down to Rock City’s basement for Sister Shotgun, a metal group from the Black Country.

Fresh from a well-received slot at Fort Fest the day before, they vowed the crowd with a set which, both musically and visually, had an abundance of energy and intensity.


Photo (C) Andrew Evans

Another band from the West Midlands playing the festival were Liberty Lies, who had also played Fort Fest the previous day.

They turned Rock City’s basement into one big moshpit, with a pulsating set aided by the screaming vocals of Shaun Richards and the sublime playing of the guitars, bass and drums.

There was also a connection with Sister Shotgun, with their frontwoman Chloe Ozwell joining them on stage for a collaboration, on what was her second appearance of the day.


Photo (C) Esme Knight

Manchester alternative rockers Autumn Ruin were next in the basement, their set doubling as a launch for their newly released debut EP ‘We Make Our Own Damn Luck’ and sandwiched between gigs in London and at Fort Fest.

They played with much enthusiasm and it suggested that this is a group who are on the verge of breaking through on a substantial scale, so much so that I feel confident enough to say that the next Macmillan Fest they play, it will be as one of the headliners.


Another band who have had a good year were Blood Youth, who were playing at Stealth nightclub.

The Harrogate outfit played a set consisting of a sound that was a fusion of pop-punk and metal that captivated the crowd, with each band member seemingly on top of their game.


Rounding the day off at 9pm, back to where it all started in Rock City’s main hall, were legends SikTh, who have recently been on tour in the USA supporting Periphery, and had only arrived back in the UK the previous evening.

However, there was most certainly no sign of fatigue, as they almost literally raised the roof off the building with a highly-charged set, taking the fired-up crowd on a musical journey across the last sixteen years and the full spectrum of metal.

It was one of those gigs where everything seemed to go right and also the perfect way to end what had been a marvellous day.



Credit must be given to Kris Davis and his team for putting on such a brilliant and smoothly run event where, like with the majority of music festivals these days, the objective was to make as much money as possible, but the crucial difference here was that it was for the benefit of those most in support on what must be a very difficult period in their lives.


SERTRALINE – The Sugarmill, Hanley, 05/08/2016



Sertraline Gig Photo 1

Sertraline came to Hanley for the finale of their nationwide tour promoting their new single ‘Change of Heart’.

For the majority of the members of the metal/rock five-piece, it was a chance to finish on a high in front of a home crowd.

They were helped by strong support, both Rage Cave and YOUYESYOU doing a great job at warming things up.

At some gigs I’ve been to, the first band have struggled to make an impact.

However, Rage Cave were far from this, immediately grabbing everybody’s attention by playing a confident set filled with some well put together tracks.

Watching them, I thought it was remarkable that they had only played their first gig towards the end of June.

YOUYESYOU, led by Stone the Alchemist frontman Chris Munday, were also good, playing with much energy and strength.

Chris showed yet again why he is good at what he does, making sure the audience were engaged and entertained, while at the same time putting as much effort as he could into creating a strong set.

This must have taken some pressure off Sertraline, as from the word go, they seemed to relish every moment they were on stage.

Sertraline Gig Photo 2

Everybody in the band seemed to be in their absolute element, playing a lively, fast and intense set, perfectly complimented by the sublime singing of vocalist Lizzie.

Sertraline Gig Photo 4

All this resulted in a positive atmosphere, with the crowd thoroughly enjoying themselves, some singing along to the tracks, others deciding to form a moshpit which grew as the night wore on.

Sertraline Gig Photo 3

Overall, it was a brilliant evening of hard rock where everybody was on top form.











HEADRUSH – The Sugarmill, Hanley, 23/07/2016



Headrush gig photo 4

Most cities have a band that are seen as local legends.

In Stoke-on-Trent, this would apply to rock group Headrush.

The Potteries music scene went into mourning when the band announced they were splitting up in 2013, due to vocalist Andy Law’s move to Australia.

Now, three years later, they are back, although for just one night, revisiting the Sugarmill, where they had bowed out on a high with a triumphant set.

Emerging outfits Jesse’s Divide and Infinity provided solid support for the highly expectant crowd, which let out a huge roar that engulfed the room when it was time for Headrush to come on stage.

Headrush Gig Photo 1

After a substantial time away, they would be forgiven if their set hadn’t been up to scratch, but any fears of that happening went the moment the first guitar string was plucked.

Headrush gig photo 3

It was as if they had never been away, playing a cracking set full of their classic tracks, with each member of the band getting back into their stride with ease.

Headrush gig photo 5

Headrush Gig Photo 2

17-year-old Sam Ogden, who would have been a toddler when Headrush first burst onto the scene, did a great job on the drums and it must have been quite an experience for him.

If they were to never play together again (hopefully, this won’t be the case), it would be of some comfort that the group had performed another legendary set to add to the ones that they had played first time round.

Headrush gig photo 6



SILVERCHILD – The Underground, Hanley, 25/06/2016


PHOTOS by RICHARD ROSS of Thunderbolt Photography

Silverchild Gig Photo 1

A mesmerising set was played by Stoke-on-Trent band Silverchild on their homecoming at local venue The Underground.

Back in the Potteries to launch their forthcoming debut EP, the group played music that harked back to a sound reminiscent of Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin.

Silverchild Gig Photo 2

It was simple but effective, as within the first minute of going on stage, they pretty much had the audience in the palm of their hand.

Alex Hiley’s vocals were a perfect companion to the guitar riffs and drum beats, she definitely has what is called a proper rock voice.

Silverchild Gig Photo 3

The support, all local groups, were just as good, making for a great gig overall.

Circus Junkie Rebels looked and played like a band who have a bright future ahead of them, Lovesick for Mina had a strong set, considering their vocalist Letitia Turner was six months pregnant, and brand new group Rage Cave made a brilliant debut, merely shrugging off what could have been an catastrophic moment for them when one of  vocalist/guitarist Max Jefferies’s guitar strings snapped.

Silverchild Gig Photo 4

In an era of autotune, manufactured music and epic production values, it was refreshing to see a talented outfit such as Silverchild play back-to-basics heavy rock and to great effect too.






THIEVES ASYLUM – The Exchange, Hanley, 10/06/2016


Thieves Asylum band photo

Stoke-on-Trent indie rock outfit Thieves Asylum were in town for the launch of their new single ‘I.K.Y.K.I.K’, the follow-up to their critically-acclaimed debut release ‘Noc Noc’.

The gig took place in the basement of a telephone exchange turned trendy bar/restaurant/music venue.

Having headlined the nearby Sugarmill recently, this was a more intimate setting, with the enclosed space and excellent acoustics working to the band’s advantage.

Fellow emerging Stoke indie/alternative bands Arcadia, ALMA and Maverick Zion, on their debut, did a great job in warming the crowd up by performing strong sets.

Based on this, it surely won’t be too long until they are back headlining themselves.

The talented support eased the pressure on Thieves Asylum, because by the time they arrived on stage, the place was buzzing.

Their set was definitely not a let-down. The band’s style of indie rock mixed with psychedelia with shades of metal went down well, as did the Alex Turner-style vocals of frontman Joseph Tomasso.

‘I.K.Y.K.I.K’ (short for I Know, You Know, I Know) is their strongest track to date, with an infectious chorus that embeds itself into your mind.

The fast-paced, intense performance showed off a group that have professionalism and maturity beyond their years, and proved why they are one of the most talked-about bands on the Stoke music scene at the moment.



THE CULT – Rock City, Nottingham, 29/02/16


The Cult photo

Rock legends The Cult rolled into Nottingham and shook the iconic Rock City venue to its foundations with an energetic performance.

The band were in the home of Robin Hood as part of a world tour, coinciding with the release of their tenth studio album ‘Hidden City’.

The venue was packed to the rafters with fans, some who have only discovered The Cult in recent years, others who have been followers since their debut ‘Dreamtime’ was released 32 years ago.

When the band entered the stage, an almighty cheer, rather akin to one at a football match, greeted them.

Frontman Ian Astbury resembled Gene Simmons with his all-black attire, tanned skin, most likely gained through years spent in the Californian sunshine, shoulder-length jet black hair and dark sunglasses.

Meanwhile, lead guitarist Billy Duffy almost had the physique of an Olympic weightlifter.

Both of them were on top form, Astbury released his inner Jim Morrison by strutting across the stage and confidently interacting with the audience, even taking the time to verbally attack Keith Richards for calling Black Sabbath ‘a big joke’.

Duffy let his guitar playing do the talking, even slightly smiling to himself when looking briefly at the audience, who were lapping it up.

The band played a diverse range of tracks, from the classics such as ‘Fire Woman’ and ‘She Sells Sanctuary’, through to some of their latest tunes.

Astbury and Duffy must have been pleased to see that the newer songs got just as positive a reaction from the audience as the greatest hits of their long careers.

By the time they drew to a close with ‘Love Removal Machine’, you could literally feel the buzz around the venue.

This gig showed that despite the fact that both Astbury and Duffy are both well into middle age now, they can still put on a show that some of the current bands, with members young enough to be their children, would find impossible to do.