I don’t get the chance to venture over to the East Midlands as much as I’d like but on Saturday night I had the chance to do just that. Eva Plays Dead have just dropped their new EP Sounds Of The Written Word and to celebrate they are doing a run of launch shows across the country, so it would have been rude not to go and check one out right?
First to hit the stage were hometown boys Bad Raptor. I must confess that I knew next to nothing about them before they took the stage but I was more than pleasantly surprised with what I saw. Style-wise the band tread an abrasive line between Rage Against The Machine aggression and Red Hot Chili Peppers melody and funk. The highlight of their set was undoubtedly a madly energetic rendition of the Hendrix classic Foxy Lady. I liked that the band weren’t afraid to put their own spin on the track and the drum solo halfway through really got the crowd going. The band brought things to a close with a typically frantic and energy sapping performance of original track Wake N Bacon. The guys left absolutely everything on the stage and were more than deserving of the ovation that they received as they departed.
Channel 92 were going to have to be on top form to follow Bad Raptor but they got off to a bit of a rocky start with a rather messy sounding blast of Say Hello. I don’t know if the duo were nervous but they certainly improved as their set went on with their cover of California Dreamin being a high point along with their final track which I think was called Alibi. As I said above the band improved as their set went on and provided some decent entertainment, even if some of their original material was little samey.
The Species were the last of the bands which I had never heard before and in many ways they were the most intriguing. Their style was pretty much summed up by their track Broken Glass which combines gritty hard rock with the occasional psychedelic twist, while like the majority of their songs the track finished in absolute chaos. The band had a great rapport with the audience, and were clearly having a good time on stage which is always great to see. Their music may not have always been my bag but their actual performance on stage was impressive, although they did over-do the funny sound effects at times. Cause and Effect was the real standout moment, and probably their best tune of the night.
I would be lying if I said that I wasn’t massive excited about seeing Theia again. I was first saw the band play in Lincoln a few months back and they absolutely smashed it and I’m pleased to say that that wasn’t a one off. From start to finish the three guys from Burton turned on the hard rock style providing laughs, singalongs and bone crushing riffs. Their brand of old school hard rock mixed with a subtle new school twist is nigh on unstoppable, frontman Kyle Lamey had the audience eating out of his hand, and the trio’s energy was staggering. Ride On was hard rock at its high octane best and closing track Whoop-Dee-Fucking-Doo was as always incredibly good fun. If you get the chance I urge you to go and see these guys, they have got to be one of the best live bands in the Midlands right now bar none.
If pretty much any other band had had to follow that performance from Theia I would have been worried for them, but then Eva Plays Dead came out and spent the best part of 45 minutes doing what Eva Plays Dead do best. They opened with the absolutely mighty Live Again and never looked back. This is my favourite track of theirs, and live it was everything that I wanted it to be and more. Bad Girl was a swaggering assault of rock n’ roll attitude and sex appeal, and to a man, woman and child the audience ate it up as the band rolled into the punk enthused Easy To Hate, which frontwoman Tiggy Dee dedicated to her ex-boyfriend with all the venom of a woman scorned.
A thundering slice of EP lead single Wonderland had the sweat flying both on stage and off it before the guitar solo of We Aint A Family reverberated around Rock City’s walls with stunning ferocity. I’ve said it a million times but I’ll say it again, having the tunes is one thing but being able to put on a show is another matter altogether. However, it is an art that EPD appear to have mastered. The band are ridiculously tight and effortlessly on the same wavelength while Tiggy struts across the stage with a swagger which just screams ‘I know damn well I’m killing this shit!’
Penultimate track Secret was a reminder if one were needed that the band have back-catalogue which more than stands up but it was 1950’s Woman which provided the grandest of grand finales. As the first woman of Midland’s rock departed the stage, drummer Boyse grabbed his kit and headed for the crowd, guitarist Gascoyne climbed the huge bank of speakers to my right leaving bassist Shannon to hold the fort on stage while the song reached a rousing conclusion. In all off the gigs I have attended I have never seen anything like that.
Make no mistake the previous three paragraphs aren’t pure hyperbole, that performance really was that good.
Each of the bands on the bill brought something different to the table giving their all, and as a punter I don’t think you can ask any more than that.
So as I headed towards the exit and out into the cool night time air I was to left ponder two things. Where the hell have I left the car? And do Saturday nights in Nottingham always sound this good?