Gig review: THE DARKER MY HORIZON – Scruffy Murphys, Birmingham, 21 March 2015

This extract from Get Ready to ROCK! Radio’s weekly show ‘New to GRTR!’ features The Darker My Horizon.  First broadcast, 23 March 2015. (5:22)

The Darker My Horizon

Birmingham, one of the rock and metal heartlands in the UK and saw many a fine gig at the NEC, the Hummingbird and Edwin’s No. 8 back in my student days. Not to mention frequenting the excellent Swordfish Records and another couple of record stores.

So quite a nostalgia trip to be back in Brum for the album launch gig of The Darker My Horizon. The band features Paul Stead (lead vocals/guitar) and Mark Stephenson (guitars/vocals) from the defunct melodic rockers Sacred Heart, joined by Simon Fern (bass/vocals) and Gavin Tester (drums/vocals). They were playing their fist gig as an album launch for their debut album ‘Acquiesce’ which is out now.

Scruffy Murphys is a rock/metal bar (nice line in extreme metal band posters on the walls!) and the band were playing in the cellar, to a packed crowd. First though we had Paul Stead playing an acoustic set of Sacred Heart songs requested by fans on Facebook. He was joined by Alan Kirkham on acoustic guitar, who was playing his first live gig, no pressure then!

Good to hear these songs again and they do work well in acoustic form, including ‘Lay It On The Line’ and ‘Rock ‘N’ Roll Away’, two personal favorites. Paul Stead was clearly having fun with this set changing a few endings on the songs to much amusement from the crowd.

The Darker My Horizon (TDmH) are a different musical beast than Sacred Heart, being much more metal, although still retaining the melodic edge. ‘OK’ and ‘There’s Gotta Be’ set the scene, both are hard rock meets metal tunes and delivered well by a band that is playing their first gig.

They did set out to make this a party rock atmosphere as they had the crowd on their side from the off and in Paul Stead they have a natural frontman who is serious about his music, yet is quite happy to make and take jokes at his own expense. Mark Stephenson was quite happy laying down impressive solos throughout the night and the none more metal rhythm section of Simon Fern and Gavin Tester, looked and sounded the part.

The Darker My Horizon

Good choice of covers dotted around the set, with Bon Jovi’s ‘It’s My Life’ going down a treat, as did a medley of Dio’s ‘Rainbow In The Dark’ and Warrant’s ‘Heaven’, both in tribute to late, great Ronnie James Dio and singer Jani Laine of Warrant. Nickelback’s ‘Something In Your Mouth’ also proved a hit, with a few members of the audience visually demonstrating with their hands/fingers what the song is about…

The Darker My Horizon

Of the new TDMH songs the radio friendly ‘Perfect’  and ‘Summer Time’ were personal highlights, as I am a sucker for a good, hard rocking chorus! Appropriately titled ‘Closure’ closed the set, before two encores in ‘Can’t Stop The Rain’ and a stonking version of the Queen classic ‘Tie Your Mother Down’.

The Darker My Horizon

Job done really, as the band were hoping for a party atmosphere to launch their album and the audience certainly had as much fun as the band did. Classic night of rock meets metal in one the UK’s heartlands, doesn’t get much better than that!

Review by Jason Ritchie

Paul Stead & Alan Kirkham acoustic set:
1. NOTHING AT ALL 2. DOWN 3. YOU’RE THE ONE 4. LAY IT ON THE LINE 5. NO-ONE KNOWS (WAR) 6. TV MOVIE 7. TOP OF THE CLASS 8. ON MY WAY
9. ROCK ‘N’ ROLL AWAY

The Darker my Horizon set:
1. OK 2. THERE’S GOTTA BE 3. BEWARE THE WOLF 4. IT’S MY LIFE (BON JOVI)
5. THE ROAD 6. PERFECT 7. PARADISE Medley: RAINBOW IN THE DARK (DIO)/HEAVEN (WARRANT) 8. I CAN’T SAVE YOU 9. SUMMER TIME 10. SOMETHING IN YOUR MOUTH (NICKELBACK) 11. CLOSURE
Encores: 12. CAN’T STOP THE RAIN 13. TIE YOUR MOTHER DOWN (QUEEN)

Upcoming gigs:
24th May – Rock It Bar S.O.P.H.I.E Festival, Tamworth UK
11th July – Hell Fire Club, Redhill, UK
9th October – The Railway, Bolton UK
10th October – The Old Moot House, Kingston-Upon-Thames UK
7th November – Scruffy Murphys, Birmingham UK


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Power Plays w/c 14 October (Mon-Fri)

SANGUINE Ignite (Odyssey Music)
GOODBYE JUNE Switchblade Heart (Earache)
SAINTS OF SIN Nasty Love (indie)
SCARLET REBELS Heal (indie)
FLYING COLORS The Loss Inside (Mascot)
KEYWEST C’est La Vie (indie)

Featured Albums w/c 14 October (Mon-Fri)

09:00-12:00 DANGER ZONE Don’t Count On Heroes (Pride & Joy Music)
12:00-13:00 ECLIPSE Paradigm (Frontiers)
14:00-16:00 GALLAGHER & LYLE Live at De Montfort Hall, 1977 (The Store For Music)

Albums That Time Forgot (Mon-Fri)

ROBIN TROWER In The Line Of Fire (1990)



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