On my arrival at the rather welcoming Booking Hall I was pleasantly surprised by the large turnout that was here to welcome “WICKED STONE” and the support band that I had never crossed paths with before “ESTHR” this highly charged 4 piece group who have a synth / guitar based sound know how to peel off a riff or two, with Keyboardist Max Minus being quiet a character with his enthusiastic throwing of shapes whilst producing a vast array of sounds for Jack Kinden vocalist / guitarist to beef up with some classy fretwork.
Sadly I could only catch part of their set but talking later to drummer Ross Standen, he told me they have just released 2 songs on Spotify “HAUNTED” and “TRY SOMETHING NEW” if you enjoy hard rock with a punky / Industrial sound then you should really try and check this band out especially in the live setting.
“WICKED STONE” a band I have seen and reviewed on a few occasions are out and about supporting their new EP “DEVIL IN ME” and tonight they are on a mission from the off. With “SHOOT TO THRILL” by AC/DC being the final song before the group enter the stage. it’s a huge cheer that goes up when they launch into “I COULDN’T TAKE ANYMORE” and those crunching down tuned guitars from Joe Davies and Dave Winchester hitting like a sledgehammer whilst still maintaining a melodic feel.
Where I was standing by the side of the stage I could see how focused and hard working the guys were with vocalist Joe Hawx prowling every inch of stage and being a top class front man involving everyone from the start, such was the impact that by the second song “SET ME ON FIRE” the vocals in the chorus was just left out so the crowd could sing instead.
New single “HUNTED” shows a maturity from the group and a sound that has elements of Sabbath / Soundgarden with lots of wah wah and a tempo that could do your neck a lot of damage. Another aspect of the group that really shone through for me tonight was the fun the guys were having on stage with drinks being poured at various times and Ollie on drums being the focal point of a joke or two, but that was between songs, during the actual playing everyone was focused on the task ahead with both guitarists playing with no frills attached, just head down get the job done attitude.
Barely 5 songs into the set we had two confetti cannons go off blasting red tissue paper into the crowd and then the added bonus of someone turning up in a gorilla outfit!! “ HIT IT AND QUIT IT” has Joe Hawx pumping everyone up even more on this frantic sounding track and at this point I noticed 2 fire extinguishers next to me and I began to think that if he was to combust in a ball of fire I would have to help him out.
DEVIL IN ME” and “AINT NO REST” with its distorted guitar affect and space between the riffs and the drums giving the sound an extra snap went down well. In fact, the whole set went down superb.
On this form the group could be on stage in outer Mongolia and they would win the locals over they were that classy, Set closer “ANOTHER ROUND” had mike stands being swung round and a wonderful low end bass from Tom Lane that kept the whole thing glued together while more confetti canons went off, a great way to finish off a brilliant 12 song set Just a couple of weeks ago I reviewed on this very stage the marvellous “BLACK ROZE” saying how much they have improved this last year.
The same can be said for “WICKED STONE” who have so much professionalism about them from the impressive array of merch they sell, to the way they conduct themselves on stage and most importantly to the calibre of the songs they release.
The band on this performance are quiet clearly going from strength to strength.
Review by Steve Bruty
Photography by Darren Smith