Review by Gary Spiller for MPM
Threading a route through the end-of-week tea-time motorway traffic there’s ample time for contemplation and a slither of cogitation. It’s been a lengthy journey to arrive at this point; even longer than the one currently been undertaken to Wales’ second city. Abertawe is inching closer.
Nearly 18 months previously a partnership – hopping aboard the Midnight Tornado express – was created. The transition from fan to fledgling promoter began. Lockdown struck and the pause button was pressed; the music industry plunged into darkness and the door firmly locked. Dates postponed, rearranged, postponed and rearranged multiple times became the norm.
Mercifully a light appeared, a beacon of hope and inspiration. Slowly but surely live shows began to return; suddenly indication was given that the green light was about to be illuminated. So came a tsunami; a gigantic wave of festivals, tours and one-off dates.
What feels like 18 months of gigs in a 6 month period; the resultant affect being saturation of the calendar and promoters, bands, venue and fans alike caught up in the ensuing maelstrom. Mixed into the situation is the uncertainty, throughout, of covid-19; with people wondering would their favourite band make it to the gig or even themselves for that matter.
Pre-sales appeared sluggish up until the final few days leading up to gig-day itself; several other quality gigs along the M4 corridor in South Wales have spread the music-loving folks of this region. However there’s a steel-like determination to get the show on and even a last minute injury to Everyday Heroes’ chief six-string shredder Daniel Richards isn’t going to derail proceedings.
Although gutted it’s a case of regrouping and several phone calls that quite literally all the usual options are out gigging. Special guests Revival Black to the rescue, and they agree to do a headline slot; something which proves to be well received. All wish Daniel well and the show does, indeed, go on.
Swansea alt-rockers Static Fire open up the night pulling in a decent-sized local following. Sadly the M4 traffic ‘wins’ and I fail in my attempts to make their set. I’m reliably informed they’ve got the night off to a cracking start and possess much promise. Don’t want to miss them a second time!
Up next are fellow Welsh rockers Cancel The Transmission; hailing from Caerphilly they’ve been around a few years but seemed to have upped their collective game following a couple of changes in their lineup. Joining the nucleus of Justin Crowe (vocals / rhythm guitar) and Josh Thomas (lead guitar) are Carl Oag (bass) and Ash Preece (drum). They produce a tight-as performance with nailed on melodic yet powerful rock with catchy anthemic radio-friendly hooks. There’s something in the water in South Wales for sure!
They head off along their rock n’ roll highway with ‘Come Get Some’ a hard driving V8 beast of a number in which Crowe’s vocals soar effortlessly. Coming off the back of a well-recieved performance at a sold-out Rockwich festival this sharply defined quartet are rapidly into their stride. Their groove continues, apace, with GnR-infused rouser ‘Take A Bow’ with Thomas wringing a searing solo from his Les Paul. Preece’s thundering drumming is the harbinger for melodious Boston-styled AOR track ‘One Way Ride’. Its infectious hook overlain an alluring wandering bass-line consummately delivered by Oag ensures total captivation.
These guys look really pleased to be back on stage and their enthusiasm is infectious without a doubt. “This one’s a bit of a headbanger” declares Crowe before rolling into ‘Can’t Get Enough’ with its so-so-sweet granular riff atop a pounding beat.
Crowe introduces the latest single ‘Rise Again’, a gentler mid-tempo rocker, stating that the band wanted to capture the essence of the struggles of lockdown coupled with the desire to break out of their local area. Effulgent harmonies atop appetising six-string nudge this fine track into the category of ‘Welsh rock anthem’; they’re in fine company.
Power ballad ‘Dance The Night Away’, redolent of late 80s era Aerosmith, features fantastical vocals comes complete with vertical Les Paul during a tasty solo from Thomas before CTT hit up one of their first singles in the form of ‘Back To The Start’ which seems to be a wondrous head-on collision between Saxon and Boston. An unlikely a crossover but boy does it work! Set-closing tune ‘Light Up The Night’ does precisely what it says on the tin. An iridescent, shimmering freight-train it’s a rousing finale to an excellent set.
Stepping up to the plate Liverpudlian outfit Revival Black stride into their last-minute headline slot with aplomb. An animated Jamie Hayward leads the way with a rumbling bass-line before the rest of the band kick into a particularly rumbustious ‘So Alive’. It’s twin six-string growl, from Alan Rimmer and Adam Kerbache, roaring about the Hangar as Dan Byrne, without a doubt one of the most natural on the circuit, lays down a fine, lofty vocal. Omnipotent tubthumping Ash Janes constructs a strong foundation atop which all of this is constructed.
Ever since their higly-lauded 2019 debut ‘Step In Line’ this hard-driven quintet have been, deservedly, taking plaudits and creating headlines aplenty. Spectacular festival slots at Love Rocks and Steelhouse, this summer, have ensured their burgeoning reputation. A thunderous rendition of ‘Hold Me Down’ supervenes as notches are increased.
Taken from the forthcoming second studio release a hammering ‘Believe’ takes Swansea by storm; a future classic this a band in full control of their destiny. There’s a healthy response to Byrne’s, holding on to his illuminated mic stand, request for some noise to be made prior to plunging into the filthy-blues ridden depths of ‘Midnight Oil. It’s naughty, caustic riffs sashaying entwined about a reverberating bass. Byrne howls like a banshee carried upon the darkened clouds scudding across the stormy skies.
Rimmer’s snarling hooks and Kerbache’s searing riffs are a partnership of particular beauty; a joy to behold as they tear through the heavy yet soulful blues-framed rocker ‘The River’. This is followed up with a delectable brace of tunes from the, as yet untitled, new long-playing release. ‘Wrong Side’ is trademark Revival Black with vocals that howl, baring teeth, and guitars that scorch an aisle that leads to the very altar of rock. It possesses a gravelly bluesy undercurrent that is a contraposition for its furious pace. Midsong a shadowy, yet familiar, figure appears stage left. The Scarlet Rebels, good friends and touring partners in last year’s Rising Tour, are in town and drummer Gary Doyle is bearing beer!
Suitably refreshed the lads pound into ‘Broken Home’ yet another pulsating beauty!
Byrne announces their return to Swansea next February for a full headline show and thanks all at Hangar 18 and Midnight Tornado along with this evening’s healthy-sized crowd. It’s been worth the effort and worries along the way as it seems we’ve ‘pulled it off’ in the face of several challenges.
Revival Black ready themselves for a final two-pronged onslaught with a blistering ‘No Secrets, No Lies’ that charges headlong into the firebreathing monster that is ‘Wide Awake’. Two belters that are destined to be a major part of Revival Black shows for some time to come.
So the first venture into gig promotion has been a testing one but ultimately rewarding one. Pre-sales are almost equalled by on-the-door purchases which suggest that there’s a possible on the day ‘surge’ that has materialised with confidence that the gig is going ahead and, perhaps, that punters are assured within themselves that they are able to attend as they’ve dodged the clutches of covid. Whatever it’s a buoyant mood that the return journey is undertaken in. Who said rock n’ roll is dead?
Photography by Kelly Spiller for MPM