Last night I did something that I have never done before. I went into a gig that I was reviewing pretty much blind. Normally going into a gig I have either reviewed the a recording of the band before or I have seen them live somewhere down the line but this time things hadn’t quite shaken out like that. So the sum total of my Only The Good Knowledge was a 4 minute video that I had seen on YouTube, I mean I knew all the details and the boring stuff but actual music wise, the night was going to be a new experience in so many ways.
Based in Birmingham Only The Good are Aaron Orme (Vocals) Jason Davies (Guitar) Liam Garey (Guitar) Alison Biddle (Bass) and Mike Newey (Drums) They formed back in 2011 and have been out there rocking the local scene and beyond ever since. Style wise they describe themselves as hard rock/alternative but in my experience that could mean pretty much anything, so I was ready to expect the unexpected.
Things didn’t get off to a great start when there was a delay on the door due to long sound check from the headliners and the official blog photographer got stuck at work so couldn’t make the show. I would be lying if I said that I hadn’t got a bit of a sinking feeling by the time that I actually made it inside the venue. But thankfully that feeling didn’t last long.
The band opened with ‘Time Flies.’ Quick, heavy and to the point. The set up on stage is a little awkward as the band are left cramped by the layout but to their credit they don’t let it affect them and they fly into their set with great energy. Straight away you can tell that the band have put in the hours in the rehearsal room, everything is on point straight from the off. And as you all know I’m a sucker for a guitar solo and the work from Davies here was top class.
There was no let-up in pace as ‘Make My Day’ blossomed into life. Having said that there was a nice tempo change as things slowed down for another guitar based master class from Davies, but that was merely a brief lull however as the track smashed back into top gear for a brilliant grandstand finish.
Next up was new track ‘Break The Cage,’ and for a brief moment I was on the same level as the rest of the audience as nobody had heard this track before so it wasn’t just me! The incredibly tight rhythm section really set this one up and drove it forward even surviving a bit of a mic malfunction right as Orme went to belt out the first note. I know I make light of it there but the band really do really do deserve a lot of credit for not even flinching as this was going on, great professionalism.
The intro to ‘Target’ has a slight hint of ‘Paranoid’ about it and the track is more of the same hard hitting, no nonsense in your face rock attitude, and top marks to the band for it. I had been trying to place it all night but it was during this track that I finally hit on what I was looking for, I don’t know if it is intentional or not but some of the guitar work from both Davies (Especially) and Garey has echoes of the late great Randy Rhodes.
The audience gets a breather as ‘Do Or Die’ slowly builds into life, the mellower feel doesn’t last though as the Only The Good that we expect roar back into life with a vengeance. What’s clear is that the band are really enjoying themselves and this energy and enthusiasm transmits down to the audience and as a result the crowd are really buying into the performance and having a great time, the great musicianship on show probably helps as well!
This track really hits home something that I have been impressed with all night; vocally Orme doesn’t really have in the traditional sense a huge range in at all (I’m sure he’ll admit this himself) but the impressive thing is that he knows how to use what he has. There is nothing worse than seeing a singer overstretch themselves trying to do something they simply can’t. He fits the tracks and the tracks fit his voice, that might seem like the simplest thing in the world but you’d be amazed at how many bands don’t seem to see this as important.
The band brought down the curtain on what had been a thoroughly enjoyable performance with the brilliantly titled ‘Dogs In Heat.’ The song opens with a guitar solo while not only ticking boxes for me personally, is a nice bit of variation. Rapid fire lyrics, drums which batter your senses like you’re entering a warzone and soaring guitar solos it all here, all wrapped up with a typically grandiose rock and roll finish complete with enthusiastic cheers and a long round of applause from the appreciative crowd.
If it wasn’t for the towering guitar solos OTG could easily be a punk band. All the elements are there, their sound is uncompromising, in your face, and most of all its seriously loud. Like I said before the band clearly enjoyed the performance and this meant that the audience really got involved. Plus on a technical level the performance was spot on, both guitarists provided awesome solos, the rhythm section was tighter than a very tight thing and powered the band forward at a relentless pace, while vocally Orme delivered passion in spades as well as bringing great energy in his role as frontman.
My night started in pretty shambolic fashion but by the time the first song had ended I no longer cared, and by the time the last note of the final song had stopped shaking the walls I had forgotten completely. For half an hour Only The Good didn’t put a foot wrong, and left the stage to the sound of applause. They had enjoyed their evenings work, I had enjoyed reviewing them and the audience had enjoyed watching them, and in my book you can’t ask for more than that.