Gig review: IT BITES/FROST* – The Scala,London 16 December 2012

A packed Scala in festive mood were ready for a double bill of prog rock with a melodic edge. Frost* I have not seen live before and they are back with a slightly revamped line-up with drummer Craig Blundell joining the band’s focal point Jem Godfrey (keyboards/ironing board/vocals), John Mitchell (guitar/vocals) and Nathan King (bass/vocals). Both John Mitchell and Nathan King were working double shifts as they are also members of It Bites.

Frost* aired two song of their new album which is currently being recorded, ‘Heartstrings’ and ‘Fathers’, the latter was very heavy and bodes well for the new album. Jem Godfrey was having a ball with his ironing board synth/keyboard thingy and one of the most bizarre things I have witnessed in a live gig – a Speak N Spell solo! Jem used this to challenge fellow band members to spelling tests. There was also a novel drum duel between the sampled drums of Jem and then powerhouse drumming of Craig – at last an interesting drum solo :)

Of the older songs it was great to hear ‘Hyperventilate’ and the epic ‘Milliontown’ which rounded off their set. The band are all top draw musicians and on the longer songs they really get to strut their stuff. Do go and see Frost* play live as they don’t very often and the next chance will be a the Celebr8.2 festival at Kingston next May.

It Bites, photo by Noel Buckley

This was the third time I was seeing It Bites this year having been mightily impressed by their previous two live shows and their excellent album ‘Map Of The Past’. They did warn us at the start of the set their voices were struggling due to the previous gigs and the band suffering from colds (or maybe man flu in some cases?).

An interesting set as they delved into the Francis Dunnery years for a seasonal treat in the shape of ‘Plastic Dreamer’, so good to hear this played live. There was also ‘Yellow Christian’ and closing the set the prog rock workout that is ‘Once Around The World’, which allowed John Beck a chance in the limelight with his keyboard playing.

It Bites, photo by Noel Buckley

John Mitchell fits the band perfectly and despite struggling a little on the vocals he gets the crowd going nicely. The new single ‘Cartoon Graveyard’ sounded sublime and it has even has airplay on BBC Radio 2 thanks to Dermot O’Leary.

From ‘The Tall Ships’ album we had some treats including opener ‘Ghosts’ and ‘The Wind That Shakes The Barley’, both getting the crowd joining in enthusiastically. Encore time was ‘Kiss Like Judas’ which has most of the audience bouncing up and down.

Another enjoyable performance by a band really on top of their game and a great way to finish off one of the most successful years for the band.

Quick mention and thanks to Jon Patrick (Twang) who put this gig on and great to see such a healthy turn out audience wise.

Review by Jason Ritchie
Photos by Noel Buckley

Setlist: Ghosts/The Big Machine/Plastic Dreamer/Yellow Christian/Cartoon Graveyard/Send No Flowers/Meadow and the Stream/The Wind That Shakes the Barley/Once Around the World
Encore: Kiss Like Judas

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