Home Gigs Gig Review :FRONTIERS FESTIVAL / O2 ACCADEMY BIRMINGHAM

Gig Review :FRONTIERS FESTIVAL / O2 ACCADEMY BIRMINGHAM

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Finally the hugely impressive Fronties record label have decided to hold a UK event showcasing 6 of their UK artists who are individually at different points in their respective careers with no fanfare in the venue and no frontiers advertising it was a low key debut event but in typical rock fan fashion the place was more than healthily attended on a freezing cold midlands night with temperatures apparently dipping to minus 8 degrees outside, but inside the temperaure was rising all the time.

Opening act was “CITY OF THIEVES” this no frills 3 piece have caused quiet a stir over the last 12 months with their down to earth solid rock approach with guitarist “ Ben Austwick” holding a stance like “Joel OKeef”from AIRBOURNE with furious riffage screaming out the speakers and Bassist / Vocalist “Jamie Lailey” belting out the vocals which confidence. Tracks such as “Reality Bites” “Buzzed Up City” and the more mellow sounding “Born To Be Great” were lapped up by the crowd and of course the best of the bunch being “Fuel And Alcohol” delivered with such attitude its not suprising this outfit are tipped for a bright future.

“DOOMSDAY OUTLAW” were next up on stage to smash us right between the eyes with their quiet unique sound and approach, this five piece outfit lean heavily on bands that have gone before them with a unique British meat and potatoes sounding rock blues with hints of that glorious 1970s era. Vocalist “Phil Poole” with his energetic stage craft keeps the viewers eyes fimly open and with the strong material being showcased tonight like “Hard Tmes” and the superb “Bring It On Home”, with both guitarists interacting so well after such a short time of playing together due to the arrival of new guitarist “Alez” in the last few weeks it begs the question what will these guys be like in a year or two ? A great opening one two from the first couple of bands.

Next up in my eyes is the band with the best name ever !! BIGFOOT such a cracking bunch of guys who know how to write a song or two, buts thats only half the story as on stage they just blow the roof off any venue and tonight was no exception.with their fantastic take on classic rock / metal with plenty of smiles and goofing around onstage “Bigfoot” never take themselves too seriously, but that takes nothing away from the talent that they possess “Sean Seabrook” vocalist is almost the same size as a bigfoot and just as hairy !! but what a frontman working the crowd up and roaring out the vocals with ease.Opening the set up with “Tell Me A Lie” they never let up with the full set being “Run” “Prisoner” “Forever Alone” “The Fear” and “Uninvited” talk about making the most of a half hour time slot. Obviously Bigfoot were a major attraction tonight because the crowd gathered for their set was suitably larger than the 2 previous groups and after witnessing these 5 lads the audiences will just keep growing im sure.

Having witness “Vega” the previous week in London supporting “SKID ROW” I had a good idea what the band were like live and how their sound had progressed over the years from full on AOR into a good honest Rock N Roll band with one of the best intros ive heard in a long time starting with “In A English Country Garden” morphing into Twisted Sister and then AC/DC with a bit of Def Leppard all with a hardcore dance beat thumping out behind it, opening the set was the sure fire “Lets Have Fun Tonight” with Nick Workman spinning like a top from the start and encouraging the audience to get involved. Some of the material VEGA have released over the years has been of top quality and the likes of “Explode” and the infectious “Kiss Of Life” are given a new and fresh dusting down in the live setting.The group all work hard to keep the momentum going with some serious guitar work on the melodic rock sounding “White Flag” with all band members obviously enjoying themselves with lots of smiles and oozing with confidence. “Nick Workman” has gone from a average singer to a quality vocalist and frontman in the last 10 years and the success that this UK band have achieved is so well deserved,

WAYWARD SONS all deserve to take a bow because finally Toby Jepson has finally got the band he so rightly deserves. Since the Little Angels split in the 90s Toby has launched a solo career a stint in GUN and FASTWAY a stint at acting and a impressive stab at production, but the man is born for the stage and wow what a fine bunch of musicians he has assembled. I must make it quiet clear this band isnt the Toby Jepson show its the WAYWARD SONS show, with guitarist “Sam Wood” just melting faces in the front row with his amazing riffs and talent. I have to mention drummer “Phil Martini” who was the coolest snazziest dressed person in the whole venue with his blue almost teddy boy styled jacket and looking like something out of 70s UK glamsters MUD.Some of the material such as “Ghost Of Yet To Come” and “Don’t Wanna Go” are captivating, with the group as tight as a drum due to the excessive touring that they have undertaken this past year. It was a nice touch to see Dave Kemp on keyboards filling out the spaces with some nice touches but to be honest the spaces were few and far between due to the pounding bass and dual guitars. Another cracking moment was the blinding version of “Crush” that somehow worked its way into BLONDIES Union City Blue. Which I have to admit I found myself singing along to with much enthusiasm. Set closer “Until The End” triumphantly closed the set with the band members still covering every inch of the stage and Toby still running around like a blue arsed fly. Another success for the group was no inclusion of a LITTLE ANGELS song although when they play a full set im sure they add a couple. Im sure if any of the INGLORIOUS boys were watching this set they would have realised this was a tough act to follow.

Main headliners INGLORIOUS fronted by the hugely gifted Nathan James have had a torrid time of late with the well documented departure of 3 band members and Nathans sad family bereavements would make most people curl up in a ball and hide away under the nearest rock, but such is the mans balls of steel he has stepped up to the plate and not only delivered the most pure honest and mature album of his career “Ride To Nowhere” but has in double quick time found 3 new members and one is a very special talent ( more of which later ). To a glare of white light the band enter the stage and tear into set opener “Where Are You Now” with Nathan James being the ringmaster of all proceedings. Some of the notes this guy hits is very impressive with a shaking of his hips and twisting of his feet he really has a masterful stage presence. “Taking The Blame” and the classic “High Flying Gypsy” follow in quick succession with “Phil Beaver” hammering out a solid beat throughout. Halfway through the set the band throw in a cover,they could have played it safe with a DEEP PURPLE cover or a RAINBOW track but no Nathan announces from the stage they will try a ALANIS MORISSETTE number called “Uninvited” and rarely have I seen something so hugely impressive in a live setting with Nathan starting the track off unaccompanied by any band members, before the song built and built into a almighty celebration of musicianship, and then the moment that many people knew was going to happen the introduction of 19 year old guitarist “Danny Dela Cruz” such a mysterious character with his black fur coat on and his slow stage moves this boy is amazing with a touch of MARC BOLAN and ACE FREHLEY about him with his mannerisms and wow the solo was so enjoyable, not some 10 minute shred fest but a controlled beautiful expression of his talents.

“Ride To Nowhere” and “Faraway” were performed with much crowd participation and singing. Even when the weird moment the band was onstage and Nathan was singing but couldn’t be spotted only for him to appear on the balcony and then to walk through the crowd still singing was a marvellous touch to get closer to his fans.”Holy Water” and set closer “Until I Die” brought the curtain down on a brilliant 15 song set and although at times Nathan looked a bit isolated onstage with so many new people around him but I guess thats to be expected and im sure in time the band will become as one again, but full credit for being this good after such a short time.

So Frontiers festival in my eyes was a great success with every artist stepping up to the plate and making the most of their stage time. Hopefully Frontiers will return next year with possibly a bit more advertising and promotion this event could just run and run.

Review by Steve Bruty

Additional photos to follow.

Feature image Lindsay Smith-boam from London Show

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