The Victoria in Birmingham isn’t exactly the biggest venue I have ever been to in my life; I think the room upstairs where the bands perform would be described in the brochure as ‘Intimate.’ They do a great pint of beer though; this is of the upmost importance I’m sure you will agree.
Before I really get into the review I think I need to issue and apology. I know that there are some of you who only check this blog for the nice pretty pictures but I’m afraid that today I am picture less. This is because Justclairepotography has wandered off to Weymouth for a few days. Personally I think that having a life outside of traipsing around the West Midlands taking pictures of random bands is frankly selfish and unprofessional. I hope that didn’t come across as me being bitter about someone going on holiday because I’m really not… nope, not at all… honest.
That’s the house-keeping done, so now let’s get down to business.
This weekend actually marks a special anniversary for The Crimson Star; on this weekend exactly 1 year ago they played their 1st ever gig. *Cheers* I first came into contact with the band when I saw them back in December and they were great that night, one of the slickest live bands I’ve seen. I saw them again in about January I think it was and again they were impressive so I was really looking forward to reviewing them.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with their work I think the best way to describe the band is ‘all-action.’ Let’s put it this way, if you’re looking for heartfelt acoustic ballads The Crimson Star aren’t really your thing. With that in mind they launched into opener ‘Hey You’ at 300 mph with the sound of thundering guitars and crashing drums smashing off the walls. There was no hint of nerves or needing to bed in, the band just went straight in, total commitment.
Next up was another live staple ‘Some Other Way.’ This was one of my favourite tracks from the band’s debut EP and it didn’t disappoint. This is despite the band being beset by technical issues on stage. However, instead of letting it affect them and falling to pieces they showed a tremendous level of professionalism and steel to just carry on playing.
We were then treated to the debut of a brand new song called ‘A Darker Shade.’ The track is very much in a similar vein to the bands older material, but it all feels a little more refined. It features a great little breakdown/interlude and as always with these guys some fantastic guitar work. The opening riff on ‘Coercion’ is just classic hard rock. Like the rest of the bands catalogue it’s fast paced and it’s hard hitting. The set as a whole is just relentless.
I’m not a massive Led Zepplin fan but I do love ‘Rock and Roll.’ Who doesn’t? Unfortunately for the band the rock Gods still weren’t smiling on them as they had to play most of the song without a bassist as he had had to replace a broken string. But again instead of bitching about it the band just got on with things, and huge credit must go to bassist Chris Rowley as it did to Dave Musson earlier for remaining brilliantly calm under pressure and just dealing with the issues and getting on with it. The band rocked the song brilliantly, performing a fantastic rendition of a classic.
‘No Ordinary Love’ begins with a real curve ball, with the band throwing in some harmonies on the vocal. Trust me if you would have heard the rest of this hard hitting, no nonsense set you would have been taken slightly by surprise too. Don’t get me wrong there was still a deliciously thick guitar riff playing underneath but still you get my point!
The band close the high energy set with my favourite tack of theirs ‘The Greed Effect’ which means they end things as they started, with heavy hard rock riffs at 300 mph. Every head in the packed room was nodding along and the loud and sustained cheer that greeted the final crash on the drum kit showed what a set it had been. It had been fantastic.
The bands energy on stage was brilliant and that really helped bring the songs to life, there is nothing more off putting for an audience than seeing the band on stage in front of you and they are very obviously lost as to what to do. The musicianship was top notch and the rapport between the band, especially frontman James Shaw and the crowd was great. But probably the most impressive aspect of the night was how they dealt with adversity. With the various technical issues they had (Through no fault of their own) they could have easily let their heads drop but they didn’t, they carried on determined to put on a good show and as an audience you’ll get behind a band no matter what if you see that kind of willpower.
All last night did for me was confirm why The Crimson Star are one of the top three or four live bands on the local circuit right now. I really do mean that, they are fantastic. Trust me on this one I see a hell of a lot of bands. They are slick, well drilled, and determined to put on a show for those of you who come out to see them. Frankly, what more could you ask for?