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The Unchanged Live @ The Court House – 2nd May 2014

As always seems to be the case these days it’s been a busy and at times chaotic week over at Musical Outcast towers. There have been lots of little deals being done behind the scenes in order to make sure that this blog can continue to bring you THE best music around. The future looks very bright right now.

Over the last few months I seem to have been on a whistle stop tour of all the music venues across the West Midlands, and the latest instalment in this journey took place last night when I rocked up at The Court House in Dudley to see local rock band The Unchanged. Here is what I made of it.

I have to say that I don’t think that I have ever been so hot at a gig in my life; it was a little bit toasty. There was also a rather interesting burning smell hanging in the air so it seemed there was a real threat that we could all be evacuated to the car park at any minute, and that would have been interesting as the room was packed. It was to this backdrop that The Unchanged took the stage.

Things got started with an instrumental intro, I might have lived a bit of a sheltered life but I hadn’t actually seen a band on the local circuit do that before so I thought that that was a nice touch. The switches been the lighter riffs and slightly heavier sections acted as a preview for what was to come. The first ‘proper’ song the night was a cover of one of my favourite tracks of all time ‘Paranoid’ by Black Sabbath, and the band carried it off with aplomb. It was pretty much a straight up cover all be it with a slight Unchanged spin, the guitar work from Adam Martin and Andy Hitchcock in particular was a real highlight.

The pace slowed right down for the next track ‘Hollow’ with the band demonstrating another weapon in their armoury. This versatility and willingness to let the vocal take centre stage showed that the band are not only multifaceted in their approach, but are also not simply going to hide behind crashing drums and big riffs on stage.  That’s not to say that huge riffs were off the menu as ‘God’s Will’ would prove. The track starts off in quite low key fashion but you got the impression that it was always going to build to a big drop and it didn’t disappoint. The second section of the song was characterised by a big dirty guitar riff and a hammering drum rhythm.

‘Unchanged’ is another slow build of a song, but again leads to a big chorus and more powerful later phase. Once again the musicianship on show is top drawer, and there was a great rapport between band and audience as the band joked with those in attendance. This was a band on top of their game and enjoying it.

The melodic tones of ‘All We Have Known’ (Part 1) soon filled the air as the band once more demonstrated that they will never be a one trick pony. The blending of the main vocal with backing vocals from Hitchcock and bassist Chris Harris had echoes of that Californian rock sound from years gone by. Unsurprisingly Part 1 lead into Part 2 but that was pretty much where the similarities ended. For all but the closing moments Part 2 is straight hard rock, as many of you will know I am a sucker for a great guitar riff and great guitar riffs were in plentiful supply here.

The set was closed out by one of the grooviest, funkiest things I have ever some across. This mind-bending delicious groove was in fact a cover of the Stevie Wonder classic ‘Superstition.’ A band that covers Black Sabbath and Stevie Wonder in the same set… I’m sure you’ll agree that these guys are not your average rock band.

I was a little unsure of what to expect when I agreed to cover the gig because I hadn’t heard a great deal from the band previously but I left extremely impressed. The rhythm section of Harris and ex Face Of A Stranger drummer Luke Watton laid the foundation really well, holding everything together effortlessly. The guitar work from Martin and Hitchcock danced brilliantly over the top of these foundations and the main vocal also from Martin walked the line between raw power and melodic subtlety in impressive fashion.

You could tell that the band had put in the work in the rehearsal room and were just at ease on stage and very clearly enjoying themselves. It really was an accomplished and professional performance. The set proved that The Unchanged are clearly talented and capable of putting on a great show, but most of all they will never ever be boring.

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