Gig review: THE DARKER MY HORIZON – Dirty Rockers, Dudley, Saturday 22 May 2021

I actually can’t quite believe that I am writing a gig review – a real live gig review, not a livestream, live music with an audience, in a rock venue, it’s been way too long.

The anticipation of this gig was second to none, I was more excited about this gig than any of the big names I have seen, for many reasons – the venue and staff are amazing, the band are simply phenomenal live, the rock family attending are all just that, family, you couldn’t get a nicer bunch of people together to have a (seated) party with and let’s face it we all need a good rock out after this last year.

I sat down with Rachel to have a chat about Dirty Rockers (Dudley) and how things have been since I was last there in October. It’s fair to say my heart was breaking for her and her partner, Mac last time I was there, due to the lack of government support for this relatively new music venue.

This time I saw a lady who has truly gritted her teeth and with grim determination has carried on, the venue was cool when I last visited but they have made a few changes and carried on making it a statement music venue – I love this place, you won’t find a better venue or better people.

Dirty Rockers opening in September 2019, meant it wasn’t established long enough to get any of the financial support when Lockdown hit. It’s hit them really hard – the Frank Turner crowd funding gig has helped but they are still teetering on the edge, I am amazed they are still going, let alone doing the sterling job they are and creating a warm and friendly venue and keeping their prices as if nothing had happened and their capacity was severely reduced. I am simply put, in awe – what strength they have, much respect and kudos to the team at Dirty Rockers.

The gig was of course, socially distanced and seated, with capacity reduced from 300 to 56. It was really well organised with table service for drinks and pre-ordering of food from a local takeaway, given they knew many of us had travelled quite some distance to be there – I got much better service in a rock venue than I did in a supposedly 4-star hotel in the centre of Birmingham! The hotel’s excuse for poor service (and no manners) was that they had been in lockdown and were just restarting …. hmmm may I suggest you take a leaf out of Dirty Rocker’s book!

This band are very dear to my rock heart, you will not see a more ‘fan’ friendly band (I know they don’t like that term), who have a community page to support anyone who want to go to their gigs by introducing people and sharing info, frankly there’s many bands out there who would do well to take note too. What this means is that all of us are ‘family’, the family we have chosen for ourselves and the ones that we know we will have a great time with.

So, what was the gig actually like? For a band that have had only 3 rehearsals since October, many would consider their set seriously daunting for a first return to the stage – some would have taken an easier route and played it safe, with previously established sets (we wouldn’t have minded if they had), but that’s not The Darker My Horizon’s way.

So this was a gig which exceeded 2 hours by some way, with 26 songs in the set and if that wasn’t enough, they included a new track, ‘Gaslight’, plus several others that they have never played live before such as ‘Lies, Lies; Lies’ and ‘My Song’, and chucked an acoustic set in the middle all dedicated personally to people in the audience.

The lyrics of the songs, speak to so many of us, there is absolute unity in the audience and a few moments where we all had that gulping realisation of just how much we have missed this and how much we need it. Music has the power to do so much, lifting moods, changing dynamics, surfacing memories and camaraderie, never more evident than in Dirty Rockers last night.

When I say TDmH rocked the house down, I am not joking, the energy and pace of the opening track, ‘Rise Again’ set the standard for a night of unbelievable rock and fun audience interaction, they were on fire and the delight at being back on stage, in front of a real audience was palpable and contagious.

Everyone there was up for a great time, everyone I saw and spoke to was smiling and loving every second. Superb doesn’t do the set justice, neither does sublime, but it was – what a way to come out of Lockdown and celebrate live music!

My personal plea to you all, is please, please support these venues and bands, they are really trying to keep live music going and without these grass roots venues, new bands have nowhere to play.

Support them anyway you can – go along, buy a few drinks, buy some merchandise if you can, follow them, share the word, and most of all, enjoy yourselves. We might have been locked down, but we can still rock the hell out and have a great time, in great places with great people. Who’s up for the next gig? I’ll see you there.

Review by Karen Clayton
Photos by Hope Lye

David Randall presents a weekly show on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio, Sundays at 22:00 BST (GMT+1, repeated on Mondays and Fridays), when he invites listeners to ‘Assume The Position’. This show was first broadcast on 12 September 2021 and includes the Top 10 albums at for that week.

UK Blues Broadcaster of the Year (2020 and 2021 Finalist) Pete Feenstra presents his weekly Rock & Blues Show on Tuesday at 19:00 ( BST, GMT+1) as part of a five hour blues rock marathon “Tuesday is Bluesday at GRTR!”. The show is repeated on Wednesdays at 22:00, Fridays at 20:00). This show was first broadcast 14 September 2021.

Listen in to Get Ready to ROCK! Radio…
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Featured Albums w/c 6 September 2021 (Mon-Fri)

09:00-12:00 HEARTLAND Into The Future (Escape Music)
12:00-13:00 VEGA Anarchy And Unity (Frontiers)
14:00-16:00 JACKSON BROWNE Downhill From Everywhere (indie)

Power Plays w/c 20 September 2021 (Mon-Fri)

BAD TOUCH Twenty Five Miles (Marshall)
THE HUMAN VEIL Enemies (indie)
DIPLOMATIC IMMUNITY Now’s The Time (Golden Robot Records)
VANSLEEP Oceans (indie)
TRUE NORTH Save Me (Out Of Line Music)
SORROW & THE SPIRE In The City Tonight (Golden Robot Records)

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