Sometimes this job is all about being in the right place at the right time. You could be the best writer in the world but if you miss ‘that’ night or ‘that’ band then frankly you’re nothing. And last July I got very lucky because that was the day that I first encountered Face Of A Stranger. The journey since has taken in many stages, many different faces and many more different beers, and all leading to the Slade Rooms on the night of 14th March 2014.
They were providing the main support to the highly rated Slam Cartel so there was an opportunity to make a real impression. I had heard that the band had been busy getting their set down for this and there had been a bit of a reshuffle of the set list, they weren’t leaving anything to chance.
The first thing I actually notice is not what is happening on the stage but what is happening around me. The room has filled up dramatically and the bar is empty. In contrast to the other bands on the bill up to this point things got started in a far more deliberate and moody fashion. The opening melody to ‘Violet’ gives way to the sound of powerful guitars and powerful vocals and we are no underway. The track is far from a ballad but the lyrics will almost certainly strike a chord with many in the audience.
‘Shutting Me Down’ has been a staple of the bands set for some time now but never disappoints. The Nirvana style intro is greeted by silence by those in attendance as they take it all in. It has to be said that although I have been critical of the sound at some of their more recent performances the duelling sound coming from the guitars of Pagett and Lewis sound thick and totally on point tonight.
The bridge from ‘Shutting Me Down’ straight into ‘Swallowing Grenades’ is not something that I have seen them do before but it works fantastically well. The band are in brilliant form with frontman Mitch Jones looking really relaxed and confident in his and the bands abilities.
Next up is the epic ‘Broken Words.’ I really don’t use the word epic lightly; the track it isn’t so much a song as an adventure through sound. The intro is a bass solo (Something too many bands are afraid to do in my opinion) which leads into almost a marching drum beat. The rest of the track is filled with emotion, Black Sabbath style phases, false finishes and even a ‘scream’ vocal giving the song a definite edge compared to some of their other material. It isn’t the most instant of songs probably due to the sheer length of it, but it is definitely a ‘grower.’ It was also announced that the band will be heading into the studio in the near future to record the track so make sure you listen out for that.
The penultimate song of the night from the Black Country based outfit was fan favourite ‘The Road.’ The crowd really get involved here as they can be heard singing along like they are watching Queen back in their Wembley heyday, it really is something to behold. The songs signature guitar solo was greeted with enthusiastic cheers. Any sceptics had been well and truly converted.
‘In My Veins’ brought the set to a close in typically hard rocking fashion. The drums form almost a hip hop style beat driving the song forwards with the rest of the band giving their all in unison. As the sound of a classic rock finish faded into the air all that was left were cheers.
The band had done what every support act aims to do. Make themselves impossible to follow. As the headliners took the stage cheers could be heard all round, but those cheers weren’t deafening anthe room had emptied noticeably. Everyone knew they had seen a performance that wouldn’t be bettered, and there can be no higher praise than that.
All photos shot by the fantastic Justclairephotography