There’s no doubting the seasons have shifted recently; picking a way through knee-high drifts of fallen leaves on a damp, miserable evening in Chesterfield doesn’t sound too rock n’ roll to be honest but there’s musical excitement afoot.
Time for some reflection, and indeed contemplation as we crunch through the autumnal debris. Much has changed since our last gig back in March; indeed there’s a bit of apprehension, slight nerves.
Once what was the weekly norm has now, in these pandemical times, become an adventure into the somewhat different.
Situated partway along a row of red-brick terraced houses, just off the town centre, nestles Real Time Music; it’s a building with some history that, according to convivial owner Niki, dates back to the mid 1800’s.
Rebuilt from a derelict shell this is a top-notch venue that proves a more than capable host for the two bands plus the 50 or so hardy souls in the gathered ensemble that are supporting this evening’s most worthy endeavours.
Rampaging southwards, hurtling forth from the devil-darkened hollows that surely abound their hometown Barnsley come heavy powerhouse trio ‘A Joker Among Thieves’.
Opening up with a forceful body blow with ‘Swinging’ drenched in a dirty groove melded with a hint of a blues-edge that soon has heads nodding. These guys mean business both in musical and tailoring departments; nattily attired outfront with ‘Joker’ Joe Mell’s (vocals/guitar) pin-striped trousers being slightly raised by Nathan Tinkler’s (bass/vocals) steam punk top hat and glasses alongside a neatly trimmed shirt combo.
These worthy efforts are, however, collectively trumped by Mark Swallow’s (drums/vocals) full on skeletal war paint and tartan trouser pairing; surely the best dressed skeleton this side of Sheffield!
Mell’s growling, rasping vocals are well matched by his heavy six-string riffs that resonate in a wonderful structure-shuddering fashion alongside Tinkller’s rumbling bass and Swallow’s point-on skin thumping.
Early doors the sound balance is a touch awry with Mell’s guitar being a bit lower down the mix than necessary but,with absolute credit to the sound engineer, this is swiftly remedied.
The trio cite, amongst others, Clutch and Black Label Society as influences which latest single, the dark-grooved ‘Stomp on my Heart’ perfectly demonstrates.
Next year’s debut EP from this affable trio will be well received judging upon this evening’s showing. ‘Hell Yeah’ and ‘Get Up’ – to which we couldn’t as this is, quite correctly, a seated affair – along with set-closer ‘Zombie’ are personal stand-outs.
Following on from a most palatable starting course we arrive at this evening’s appetising main dish – Yorkshire based punk-edged rockers – or is that rock-edged punks? – Syteria.
In my opinion neither truly defines this quarter that occupy the region somewhere in between The Runaways and The Amorettes; defying rigorous definition.
Snappy quick-fire meaningful lyrics overlying sumptuous riffs and solos upon a hard as nails rhythym married with wide-ranging vocals and precision layered harmonies are the order of the day here.
The lights darken, save for a few white and blue spots, a rumbling intro with dark spoken words, reminiscent of Barry Clayton’s upon ‘Number of the Beast’, heralds the entrance of the band with Pablo Calvo, firstly, taking up his position behind the skins before bassist Steph Dawson – formerly of Scream of Sirens – heads stage left to flank vocalist (and occasional rhythym guitarist) Julia Calvo and lead guitarist Jackie Chambers (also of Girlschool).
March’s national lockdown couldn’t have come at a much worse time for Syteria being implemented mere weeks after the band had released their much awaited second album ‘Reflections’ and invested heavily in the related touring and promotion that is part and parcel of a new release.
Just a handful of dates into their collective plans and the metaphorical rug is pulled out from beneath them; undaunted they’ve taken it face on and this evening are back cramming in 18 tracks into a deeply impressive 70 minute set that serves notice that the rock n’ roll is far from dead! The latest long-playing offering is well represented throughout with all bar three tracks unleashed upon the gathered.
The opening volley is a hat-trick from the second album with ‘Guilty!’, ‘Asylum’ and ‘Back Off’ getting affairs off at a cracking pace. All three feature Julia on rythym guitar – expanding the sound – in fact over half of the set Juila undertakes this engagement; a warmly-recieved expansion.
The band rattle through the set at a blistering pace, only drawing breath between songs. Interludes in which Julia chats happily linking into the next. First to be delivered from debut offering ‘Rant-O-Bot’ is ‘Get A Life’ complete with ‘choreography’ on and off-stage.
‘Goodbye World’ is given a first-ever live airing; lyrically appropriate for these troubled times with some neat six-string hooks from Chambers.
The band’s collective punk leanings are hinted at with a fine cover of The Ramones’ ‘Rockaway Beach’ or is it ‘Bitch’ enquired Chambers. ‘Revolution’, a track that has served Syteria well, and it’s machine-gun ending ramps matters upwards before the angst-driven ‘Hypocrite’, complete with spiky lyrics, is well received.
Crowd favourite ‘New World Order’ is intro’d by Chambers, our very own prophetess of doom, threatening to pen love songs rather than those linkng Bilderberg,The Georgia Guidestones, Agenda 21 and HAARP all in under three minutes!
‘Make Some Noise’, opening track of ‘Reflections’ bears witness to Syteria rocking out with the best – this could easily be ‘The Amorettes’ out there. Though I do have this peculiar of image of Noddy Holder doing justice to the song in his own indominatable style!
The set is brought to a rousing end with the brattish punky ‘When I Get Out of High School’ partnered with the seasonal single-only ‘Halloween’ to finish on a high-note.
This has been an excellent evening and special mention must be made of the hard work and endeavours put into the evening by organiser Niki and her professional Real Time Music staff whose attention to detail ensured that everything went smoothly and complied with all the relevant regs.
Venues and their staff often get overlooked but now, more than ever, we all – bands and fans alike – need them. Credit to all involved.
Website and shop —- https://syteria.co.uk/
Review by Gary Spiller for MPM