Some things are sent to try you! Take tonight, I was going along to this gig mostly on the strength of opening act Wolfborne’s latest album, ‘In The Beginning’, which I reviewed recently and found to be excellent. Knowing that the guys had a very early slot I set off in plenty of time to get to the venue for the doors opening only to get snarled up in the rush hour traffic around the city, grrrrrrrrrr!
By the time I finally got into the Garage Wolfborne were on their last couple of numbers, but what I did see impressed as much as the album had. The Canadian rockers have some great songs and a big stage presence which proved to be a hit with the growing crowd.
In fact, a couple standing next to us headed off to the merchandise stall as soon as the set was finished to buy the album, praise indeed. Hopefully they will be back in the UK soon so I can catch a full set from the guys.
Next up were a band I confess to knowing very little about, (Hed) p.e. Taking to the stage frontman Jahred looked menacing in a combat jacket and matching scarf over his face but he quickly proved his bark was worse than his bite. Kicking things off with ‘No Turning Back’ from the band’s latest album, ‘Evolution’, the band’s blend of hardcore punk, funk and reggae is highly infectious and the now capacity crowd were loving every minute.
The set consisted of songs spanning the band’s career with Jahred entertaining in between songs with witty banter and genuine gratitude for the warm reception. Set highlights included ‘Bartender’ and a cover of The Specials ‘Ghost Town’ which was included in the set’s reggae section which added a different element to the night. (Hed) p.e. proved to be highly entertaining and arguably got the warmest and most enthusiastic response of the evening.
Another band I knew little about were American Head Charge who were up next but it seems I was in a minority as they arrived on stage to a hero’s welcome. For me though the band’s industrial rock was fairly uninspiring. The sound was muddy for the most part and being unfamiliar with the band’s back catalogue didn’t help. In fact during the stage change-over we stood and watched keyboard player, Justin Fowler, lovingly set up his keyboard rig only to realise during the first track that his efforts were in vain as you couldn’t hear his playing at all in the mix.
However those who were more familiar with the back catalogue were bouncing along with the band. Frontman Cameron Heacock didn’t really interact with the crowd during the set, guitarist Karma Singh Cheema made up for this somewhat by pulling some of the strangest faces ever to grace a stage, the man could out pout Angelina Jolie!
The biggest cheer of the night was for ‘Just So You Know’ which had the crowd surfers flying in all directions and, not to be out done, towards the end of the set Heacock headed off the stage and onto the balcony which surrounds the venue only to then swan dive into the crowd below, impressive stuff. The fact that a swan dive was the most memorable part of the set speaks volumes though. The set was energetic but the sound issues and lack of interaction didn’t endear them to me.
SOiL had no such issues. The crispness was back in the sound and Ryan McCombs engaged with the audience from the word go. ‘Loaded Gun’ opened the set with the band’s hard and grungy sound hitting the spot. Guitarist Adam Zadel and bassist Tim King both give their all flanking McCombs either side of the stage with King in particular pulling all the rock star moves.
McCombs is the focal point on stage and his between song chat is both amusing and modest especially when dealing with hecklers with Scottish accents. The set list proved to be a good mix of tracks from the band’s latest album, ‘Whole’, and highlights from the back catalogue including ‘Two Skins’ and ‘Breaking Me Down’.
The biggest cheer of the night though was saved for arguably SOiL’s signature song ‘Halo’ which saw the crowd erupt once more in a hail of flying bodies. The last time I saw SOiL was supporting Puddle Of Mudd which I thought at the time was a lower billing than the band deserved and tonight they proved they were more than capable of headlining this bill.
This was a great gig with a real value for money package. Wolfborne proved that they are ones to watch whilst (Hed) p.e. and SOiL proved to be top live acts. If you are going along to any of the dates just make sure you leave in plenty of time in case the traffic conspires against you too!
Review by David Wilson
Photos by Simon Dunkerley
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