Gig review: MASSIVE WAGONS – Grand Central Hall, Liverpool, 25 September 2021

This was only my second gig with zero restrictions in place, what a venue the Grand Central Hall is. I have not been before, I will definitely be back – the venue team were well organised and entry was easy, however with doors opening at 7pm and the initial act being on stage at 7.05pm, it was always going to be a challenge for the opening band, especially as they were a guitarist down or so you might think!

Bastette took the stage and immediately opened with the powerful new track, Talk About It (featured track on NWOCR vol 1 album and a single from the latest EP). Caroline not only commands your attention with her powerful voice and lyrics, but she owns the stage completely.

A confident performer, she had the appreciative audience eating out of her hands long before she launched into ‘Sick & Twisted’. What a tight set, drum, bass, guitar with Caroline also helping out on rhythm guitar when needed and Sam on lead guitar, does a sterling job and when chatting later, I discovered that he was playing a guitar given to him personally by the legendary Mark Tremonti (Alter Bridge, Tremonti) – his intro to ‘Rollercoaster’ made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up, I am sure Mark Tremonti would be exceedingly proud of his protégé – all I can say is wow!

If you haven’t heard of this band yet, you are missing out, I will be seeing them again and I suspect there were a significant number of new fans created on Saturday night!

Next up was Chris Catalyst and his group, Chris has a rather long pedigree including Sisters of Mercy, Terrorvision, Ugly Kid Joe, Ginger Wildheart as well as being rumoured to be one of the nameless ghouls in Ghost. This was going to be interesting and rather louder and heavier than the opener. From the opener, ‘Make Good Art’, it was clear that Chris hasn’t lost his love of punk rock and music with a message. By second track, ‘The King of Everything’, the audience had switched on to the foot tapping infectious, punk rock influenced sound.

Chris delivers on track after track, leaving me converted to this new (to me) find, and most of the audience dancing along despite some sound issues – closing out their set with a Bowie cover, ‘Boys Keep Swinging’, was a brave move and I think they pulled it off (I go by the mantra if you are going to do a cover, always put your own stamp on it and make it your own). I’d encourage you to listen to the new album, Kaleidoscopes, it’s really very good – I’ll be keeping an eye out for future gigs too, hope to catch you again Chris!

Now to the main event, Massive Wagons – I, like everyone else, have waited a long time for this gig, and I’ll be honest, fan girl became like an over-excited child at Christmas, it was never going to disappoint, from the opening riffs on ‘In It Together’, we most certainly were and the sheer joy in the room was only matched by the energy on stage, Baz is a frontman like no other – he works that stage like a demon possessed, in a suit that makes Freddie Mercury look tame and we love him for it.

So the band are clearly having an absolute ball and the confidence in the performance comes across loud and clear – I think the Download pilot has done wonders and this is where Massive Wagons come of age, the high energy continues with them chucking in a fantastic cover of The Clash’s ‘I Fought The Law’ and a dedication to the passing of Steve Strange, music agent and fill the venue with their own ‘House Of Noise’ for a packed 90 minute set.

Closing out with the ‘Curry Song’, much to the audience’s delight and obligatory participation, followed by ‘Billy Balloonhead’ and ‘Back To The Stack’ to a rapturous audience, the energy in the room is palpable, what a cracking set, what a performance Baz and Massive Wagons, you put the fire into an inferno, bring on the next tour!

I am always in awe of how much music you get for your money and tonight was no exception, 2 great supporting acts and Massive Wagons, talk about a fabulous night out, best of all we could gather at the barrier and be free to chuck ourselves around at will – it has been so long since we have been able to do this properly.

I did have a couple of moments of just absolute appreciation for being back in my happy place, no social distancing involved, looking round at everyone enjoying themselves, made my heart soar. I think we all know that Massive Wagons are on a stellar trajectory, Bastette no doubt, are going places and Chris Catalyst is enjoying his new band and no doubt, the freedom that brings, catch them when you can.

What I have really missed about the live music scene during the last 18 months (accepting and appreciating all the efforts venues/bands/crew have gone to, to make restricted gigs work) is the audience interaction with each other as well as the bands, turn up at a rock gig and pretty much its guaranteed that you’ll be best of mates with people you’ve never met before by the time the night is done.

This venue has to be one of the friendliest I have been to – awesome night out, listening to amazing bands with rock family and making new friends, what’s not to like? Thank you, Liverpool, Grand Central Hall.  I’ll be back, catch you at gig somewhere soon…

Review and photos by Karen Clayton

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