The Hairy Dog hosted another charity event with another substantial line up, this time for The Air Ambulance Service. Five rock bands, all with a bright energy ready to entertain the sizable crowd.
Firstly, an apology in that due to other commitments I was never going to manage to see Blitz. Our photographer, Ian, however, has covered them in our photo gallery and assured me that it was very ’80s rock and was thoroughly enjoyable. From what I’ve managed to hear since, there’s a strong essence or Bon Jovi in there and I’m determined to catch them on another occasion. Genuinely gutted to have missed them.
I managed to arrive for the final two songs of local rockers Black Chapter and walk in to a reasonably full room. Given its early doors, it’s always nice to see that.
Musically it’s a time warp and I’m thrown back to memories of bands such as Shark Island and other solid ’80s memories. Gone is an audience of Rig-esque heels and Cher clones that tailed away from Rock City 20 years hither, but now replaced with a consistent audience of contemporary clothing. Dress codes evolve but scenes and styles stay ever present for as long as people will invest in them, and I’m seeing this style of music making a steady minor revival.
Singer, Carl Batten, enthusiastically tries to gee up the subdued crowd and isn’t dissuaded or disheartened by the heat-stricken murmurous ripple of support to his efforts on the hot night.
Their final song kicks in comfortably after a distortion free introduction. The four piece have a solid sound, each part of the mechanism doing its part, guitarist moving between chug, strum and staccato off beats paired with drum fills at the end of sections. Competent fast solo work is executed without a dram of sweat or stress from the guitarist, who then riffs up to the bassist forcing more enthusiastic footwork from both as the song proceeds to its end. Hints of the more angrier riffs of Tool here and there (Hooker With A Penis), showing both the style’s age and indirectly pointing to the early West Coast scene that they were originally surrounded and influenced by.
Cadence Noir are up next with their brand of theatrical reel-metal. I know there’s a violin, I can see it, but I’m actively searching the stage for a full synthesiser, such is the rich tone cutting through. Absolutely gorgeous to hear, and an utter blessing that she isn’t obsessively fighting for space by sawing aggressively at the A and E strings in an exclusively desperate whine, but is using them sparingly in favour of the lower G and D strings to reinforce the thick guitars.
The bass is consistent and solid hidden behind the front three showcase musicians, and the vocalist/guitarist is turned out in his finest immaculate Bakerlite top, with hair that is clearly worth it and as silky as shigawire. A Capella singing mid song has him flitting like a freeze frame marionette between syllables.
Quite where the second song comes from, we’re not sure, as it’s suddenly a 6/8 Dublin jig worthy of The Levellers.
The third offering has an aggressive black beginning and evolves into something that finds comfortable ground in between the previous two efforts which lays out the content for the rest of the set. Wonderfully precise and with the bassist now finding space we have a spectacle wall of four plus drummer to visually engage us, including the talented, yet incongruously essential, post punk second guitarist on the far side. Gothic dress code clearly optional in favour of collective entertainment and skill.
No messing around at the start, and 28 Double push in like a festival rock band. High energy riffs and a singer that won’t quit with the solid screeching and powerful held mids of Tora Tora, the tone and control of Axl Rose in places, evolving over the set to a calmer and more controlled style as the running and jumping reduces and vocal technique increases. His bandana tied to a jeans loop would come in handy in this heat, had he remembered it was there to use. Every song is a showman performance on top of straight forward structures and guitar riffs mostly tracked by the bass, Solid 4/4 drums.
Given there’s only one guitarist here, it’s impressive that he manages to keep control of the thick texture as well as throw in solos and double stopped bends and dive bombs alongside, in addition to wah pedal throughout. A mid-set song gives us a laid back beat with a bass groove for the guitarist to rub some soul into proceedings. The inferred filthy funk is picked up by the vocals, consistent as ever.
This charity gig is in aid of The Air Ambulance Service, and by the end of the night has raised over £1,000. It transpires that 28 Double are the organisers of the event and are performing in memory of the singer’s relative Rob Wilson, who passed two years to the day. An indirectly linked cover appears next in the form of Audioslave‘s Cochise. It’s really nice to hear bands cover songs without carbon copying the vocal, and his style retains true to the rest of the set, without faking Cornell‘s trademark gravel or bends. The tune is pitched right at the height of Nick Ward’s vocal range, bright lights and sweat proving this truth as tendons square up from neck to collar bone through each chorus.
The band’s ex-bassist joins on guitar for the end of the set, thickening the texture with clones of the bass riffs an octave higher. Strong crowd support makes for a good show.
These Wicked Rivers come on stage to their emotive field song opener Wicked River Blues and launch into their set with gusto with Stones Painted Gold. Guitarist Arran Day has clearly been looking forward to this all night, as he’s rocketing across half of the stage, throwing a plethora of shapes which make the telecaster look positively Fisher Price as he effortlessly swings around and plays it in low, long strap position, feather in cap, stylish rose shirt. Pair up Dan Southall who is in control of proceedings with precision percussion at the rear like a goalkeeper with a captain armband, mouthing most of the words as he goes and pointing out guitar solo plays on cue.
Guitarist/Vocalist Hartwell’s trademark mop barely reveals an eye as he drawls his way through Ladykiller, his deep southern states bass range curling around the collective riffs as the guitarist’s higher octave backing vocals cut over the repetitions into his own guitar solo.
Hallam on bass duties still (and for the foreseeable until a replacement is found) showing that the band are still very much moving forward and together whilst the transition to find the right candidate continues. Difficult shoes to fill and you have to wonder if there is another person with a custom fretless bass who specialises in blues rock actually lives in Derbyshire. It will be interesting to watch the band’s rise and evolution over the next year.
Structurally exquisite and artful in its way, you lose yourself watching the performance and get caught in the feel of the songs. This isn’t an easy thing to orchestrate and whether by design of fluke they manage it consistently.
Hints of Monster Magnet appear in the more pacier songs, Hartwell feeding off of the enthusiasm of a particular crowd that are seeing them for the first time and high from a hot Summer’s day and Saturday night as they funk through Should’ve known better!
The guitarist is still in the zone, aggressive slam-picking his way through the solo of Foolin’ Mankind to the point you can pick out every note as the strings are mashed against the pickup magnets creating a mixture of fast finger work and pre-click.
The final song, Don’t Pray For Me, sees fantastic use of a tone bending pedal to create an old organ sound. Such a calm song which works its way into an obscene Slash level solo to finish the night.
Fantastic bands, fantastic venue and an excellent effort for charity. Long may it all continue.
You can find Blitz;
- On Facebook.
You can find Black Chapter;
- On Facebook.
You can find Cadence Noir;
- On Facebook.
You can find 28 Double;
You can find These Wicked Rivers;
Images by Ian Cudmore @ I C Things Photography