This was to be a case of second time lucky for me in my quest to see the quite fabulous Twisted Illusion at Leo’s Red Lion. I had hoped to catch them at the end of last year when they were on the same bill as Dead Man’s Whiskey and Collateral for the latter bands 4 Shots EP launch. Due to the excellent soundproofing at the venue I was happily stood in the bar having an early evening beer and didn’t know that the band were on stage until it was too late! I wasn’t going to make that mistake again with any of the bands tonight so got my beer and headed straight inside. After all, this was the first night of Twisted Illusion’s UK tour, they had travelled all the way down from Manchester for tonight’s show, and they had put together a great bill for it, so it would be rude to not take it all in.
The Alchemy who had the job of starting the night’s entertainment off were a new band on me. A bit of research via the t’internet led me to discover that they are a Kent based band, from Canterbury and formed in 2015. The four members are Rhys Taylor on lead vocals and guitar, Luke Welch on guitar and vocals, Alex Porro on bass, synths and vocals and Sam Ewen on drums and they play a fine brand of alternative and electronic rock.
According to the band’s website, they blend the attitude of big guitars with samples and synths, with heavy riffs intertwined with undeniable choruses to create catchy, anthemic songs. After witnessing their performance on Friday, they have nailed that description perfectly![youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OxCN70BT6zs&w=560&h=315]
What we got from The Alchemy was an energetic and eye catching performance as they ran through their six song set. Opener “We’re all just criminals” sets the pace for the set under the dark blue atmospheric lighting, which was just perfect for the band. Straight away it was hard to take your eyes off Rhys Taylor, a frontman with the build and stature to match his voice and stage presence. Next up was “Runaway” which saw Rhys jumping, turning and kicking his way through another great vocal performance alongside some scintillating guitar work from himself and Luke Welch and a powerhouse drum display from Sam. That song lead us into “Diamond Bones”, a real fast and frantic rocker where Rhys hit’s some amazing high notes a man of his size should not be hitting.
“Better the Devil you know” takes us into the second half of this short but enthralling set, a song we are told was only released in February. It has a slower paced start to it than the first 3 songs we have heard but then some more kick ass drumming up’s the tempo and it turns into another really beefy art rock track. The penultimate song we are treated to tonight is “Give me the sky”, a real atmospheric feel to this number behind another twin guitar assault and that solid rhythm section of Sam and Alex who keep everything in time as Rhys lets himself go at every opportunity. The Alchemy draw their set to a close with another really top quality arty rock track called “Chemical Daydream”. There enigmatic frontman has jumped on to the main floor with his mic and stand and sings the song, well most of it, from there. He hangs on his mic stand, with his mop of hair bouncing up and down, screaming out another emotive vocal as the band, resplendent under the still blue lights, hammer home the final notes to what has been a great set, accompanied by more electronic loops and beats. A really impressive set I have to say. Not the style of music I would normally listen to but I will definitely be checking them out online and hope to catch them again in the live environment again as they are definitely worth seeing.
Now for me, Kaine are a different kettle of fish. I saw them last year at a small private, intimate show in Ramsgate and they took my breath away. I knew exactly what to expect, a set of proper old school metal but not in an outdated way. For anybody in the crowd, who had not seen them before, the sight of them setting there gear up, wearing their battle jackets and sleeveless black tees with matching black wristbands must have given the game away. This was going to be set of real, proper Heavy Metal!.
Formed in 2009, they are influenced by some great metal acts such as Maiden, Priest, Metallica and the NWOBHM genre but put a modern twist to it. The current line up of Rage Sadler (Lead vocals and Rhythm guitar), Toby Woods (Guitars), Isaac Healy (Bass) and Liam Etheridge (Drums) have been together for a relatively short while, but watching them you wouldn’t know it as they are a very tight unit and exceptional musicians to boot. As they took to the stage I just knew I was in for an incredibly enjoyable 30 minutes or so.
What we got was a supercharged six song set that was loud, heavy, full of fast guitars, powerful drumming, some great vocals and just perfect for anybody who fancied a quick headbang on a Friday night to shake off the woes of the week just gone. Opening with “Eye for an Eye”, straight
away they hit you with a furious twin guitar assault. Rage is front and centre, shredding his guitar and standing over his mic, much how Mr Hetfield has done for all those years with Metallica. At any given opportunity he finds himself some space and has a little headbang himself! Second track of the set is “Rebirth”, a song which will be on their new album and is about the reformation of the band. This is another fast and furious twin guitar metal assault and pardon my French, it is fucking brilliant! This guy can sing, let me tell you that, there is melody in the vocals and he carries them off perfectly.
I didn’t get the titles to the next two tracks but the prolonged instrumental intro to the third song of the set is just spellbinding. It really helps build the song into one of those epic metal tracks and gives all four members a chance to showcase their talents. This really is musicianship of the highest quality! Next up we get another new song. The bass and drums are so powerful, the sound is thunderous and the effort put into it sees Rage mopping himself down with a towel at the end.
“All my Love”, which follows is, we are told a love song but you wouldn’t guess it by the real chugging riff the song possesses. It may be a love song but not one of those polished 80’s love songs! Again the dual guitars are immense and something the band have really built a solid sound on and the rhythm section is powerful and perfectly in time. Finally, the last song of this of short set. “I am God the Master of Mankind” is a song about Rage’s love of organised religion. Tongue in cheek, not sure! All I can say is that if he was listening, I really hope God loved this meaty, bombastic set closer.[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7tuGaWfGYHo&w=560&h=315]
That really was an in your face set of head down, bang your head metal, just how I like it. Thrashy in places but full of melody and the guitar solo’s were just exquisite, sometimes fast, sometimes intricate but again plenty of melody in there. All I need now is to see Kaine in a headline set to get a grip with even more of their stunning material.
Now it was time for Matt Jones and Twisted Illusion. Successfully I was in the venue rather than the bar as the band took the stage. I had read and heard lots of hype about tonight’s headliners and was interested to see if they would live up to it. What I was to find out later was that this was the line up’s first ever gig together but if they felt any nerves or pressure they certainly didn’t show it as they treated us to an absolute monster of a set….which was just absolutely progtastic!
Matt Jones on vocals and guitar has assembled a really talented bunch of musicians for this latest incarnation of Twisted Illusion. From the
fantastic Saxon Davids on guitar, to Andy Gotteri on keyboards, Christopher Jenkins on drums and the petite but powerful Cici Powell-Melkonian on bass there does not appear to be a weak link amongst them.
From the minute the lights dimmed and the band took to the stage, one thing was very obvious, this was going to be bloody loud! My pint and my camera, on the table in front of me, were vibrating and moving with every strum of the bass and beat of the drum. An instrumental intro started the set at a blistering pace, with all the musicians hitting the stage running and being hard to take your eyes off. Straight away there was great interaction between all the members as they smiled and laughed between each other. First track proper, was called “Excite” which quickly led into “Apocalypse”. This really was some exquisite and sublime prog metal we were being treated to. Think Dream Theatre, Symphony-X and Rush with a bit of Queen and Dio thrown in for good measure.
Third song in and we get a little respite for a sublimely delicate intro to “A Moment of Lucidity”. The song is built around some perfectly placed time changes and a wonderful little guitar break from Saxon Davids, who really is an understated wizard on the six-string in his hand. Next up is a real change of pace as the band play “Nobody’s Child”, a really haunting slower paced track that see’s Matt singing his heart out to the emotive lyrics he has put to this mesmerizing piece of music. The crowd are absolutely lapping this performance up and rightly so, the band are on fire and performing a stunning set.
After a brief drum solo, Matt Jones gets that set of lungs around the line “Sing me a song you’re a singer” and the band go headfirst into a tumultuous version of Dio era Black Sabbath’s “Heaven and Hell”. Done with a prog metal twist to it with some great instrumental breaks, the crowd get into sing-a-long mode to create one of the highlights of the evening. It was a joy to watch the members of Kaine down the front, head banging away and pumping their fists in the air! Now that is camaraderie for you. “Imitate Me” from the bands first album follows before a dedication to long time band friend Michael Craddock who is down the front enjoying himself. I know Michael adores Twisted Illusion and Matt Jones so this was fitting tribute to a man who loyally supports so much live music in and around Kent. “No Compromise” is played for him and it is a real epic prog metal track. Slow bits, fast bits, some fantastic time changes and Matt’s use of the fretboard during his solo is just mouth watering.[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b4ipjs8ViV0&w=560&h=315]
The set is drawn to a close or so we are told with “Online and Inline” which starts off with another dreamy little guitar intro before belting full speed into another out and out prog metal style rocker. The band however do not leave the stage and present us with not one, but two encore tracks. The first, is the bands new single “Night Light”. Full of soft vocals and delicate guitar work, Matt Jones wows the crowd with this beautiful ballad which he performs almost entirely on his own. The power and range in his voice is so evident here and so very very impressive, he hits and holds every note with real emotion. The crowd, taking a much earned breather themselves after this power packed set are arm in arm, swaying and waving their phone torches high up in the air. The final song is “Hatred”, a really fast paced almost thrashy slab of prog that brings the evenings entertainment to a close. It is heavy as fuck with an audible assault from the drums, bass and guitars and Matt Jones screaming out more phenomenal vocals. It is a superb way to finish what was an entertaining and exhilarating set. Was I glad I got the chance to see them tonight, oh hell yes, and I will be going to see them again. They deserve to be playing on much bigger stages to much bigger audiences and I really hope that it happens for them soon. Did they love up to the hype, yes, and then some!
Talking to some of the crowd afterwards, I did not hear a bad word said about tonight’s show, not one grumble in the slightest. One of the night’s gig goers, Paul Paterson even said “When I saw Twisted Illusion play a short set at Leo’s last year I thought wow! All I can say is they have really put the work in considering that apart from Matt and Saxon it is a new line up, it was even more impressive than what I could have hoped for”. I agree with that statement 100% but can only believe what Paul said about their set in November.
If tonight’s performance was anything to go by, the audiences at the rest of the bands 12 date UK tour are in for a real treat. If you get the chance go and see them, you won’t be disappointed.
Review and Photography : Darren Smith for metalplanetmusic