Review by Manny Manson for MPM
After several attempts to get Those Damn Crows to appear at ‘Rockin the Bowl’, sadly, to no avail, the Rockin’ the Bowl team decided to put on a special night dedicated to those who ‘volunteered’ to man the event, and without which it would be a non-starter.
The volunteers where gifted tickets for the event. The night would finally mean they would get to host ‘Those Damn Crows’ and a couple of local bands in support. A grand gesture by Zhany and Steve Hughes, the RTB bosses.
This lovely couple appreciate the work put in by everyone so wanted to give something back especially after the times the ‘World’ has just been through.
With this in mind I head the ‘gig jeep’ North once again, but not before picking up a couple of passengers. Setting out with plenty of time it soon felt that Steel City had sent out a scouting party to delay our every move. Checking the occupants, it would seem that for the time being they were oblivious to their surroundings as they tucked into yet another can of cold Guinness and a round of Jaffa cakes, bloody horrible things!
Eventually, after 2 1/2 hrs on the road, we get to the venue and as luck would have it, we get a parking space, on the road just outside. A quick purchase of a parking ticket and we’re off and running. Free tickets shared out and we’re in. The lads are straight to the bar after quickly check in with mine host, Steve Hughes, the aforementioned organiser.
I get a nice personal guided tour of the venue curtesy of Steve and fellow Tog ‘Neil Jackson’ (flaming pint), who has recently been awarded the RTB official tog gig, along with Mark Richardson who is also present tonight, along with another old mucker, Simon Walker. Great to be in such distinguished company.
We have a triple header tonight so it’s going to be a great chance to get acquainted with the lighting and the venue, a new one to me. First up we have Doncaster based ‘Blame the Sacred’ a heavy rock quintet from up the road in Doncaster. This is a band I managed to catch a quick glimpse of at this years ‘RTB’. They performed in the ‘Steel City Tent’ as the other stage went through its change over. They drew an admirable crowd there and it would seem they have come along to early doors to catch them tonight.
Opening up with ‘Godless Men’, they state what they are all about. Heavy riffing and a strong drum beat breaks the cackle of chat in the room as they drive through this opener and straight into ‘Ghosts in the Machine’ which, after a few words of hello, is swiftly followed on by ‘Edge of Tomorrow’ a track which notably received airplay on the mighty Planet Rock. The set includes a number of yet to be released tracks along with a couple from the ‘The Path’ and ‘Life or Death’ EP’s. The brief, but entertaining set finishes with ‘Statim Finnis’ from ‘the Path’.
A great vocal over a solid driving heavy rock beat, growling at times, and occasionally a bit pitchy, it doesn’t detract from this band’s high energy and enthusiasm. A great opening set from these ‘Donnie’ guys. I think first on the bands aren’t always given the sound or the light quality to do them justice. All the same good effort guys.
All hands to the decks in stripping the stage of the previous bands kit. Slick and rehearsed in no time we are ready to go again. ‘Steal the City’ are up after this quick change over.
STC again, performed at the recent Rockin the Bowl, stepping in at the last minute for Liberty Lies as they fell by the wayside due to the hateful Covid 19, the scourge of Live Music and going out-out and life in general for the last 18 months.
With a passive start this melodic sound soon breaks down into a riot of angst and rage as they blast out a subtle, ballsy set. Opening with ‘Serendipity’, full of blast beats and heavy riffing, there’s no mistake which way this band is heading as ‘Chuggs’ grinds out a fast vocal over a faster, grinding guitar, ‘Smit’ on the bass is stomping circles as he hammers out a thunderous bassline which segues tidily with, young looking, Ellis’ driving’ double kick drum antics.
Wallflower’ follows and its more high-octane stuff as this 4-piece rock out to the home crowd, it’s been 6 years since they last played the ‘Corp’ and they were determined to make it a memorable re-visit. There’s some tasty riffs played through out, but I can’t help thinking that ‘Smit’ has had to many ‘Blue Smarties’ as he charges around like the ever-powered Duracell bunny. ‘Beating Heart’, the ‘Hit Single’, finishes the short set off.
Again, a quick change around brings us to the headliner band, and one that has sold out the venue. ‘Those Damn Crows’ have taken a detour in their extensive UK tour to make this night for Steve and Zhany. Having just played the Foundry in Sheffield back in September, the lucky Steel City fans have another dose of this fine Welsh Planet Rock favourite.
They have enjoyed a whirlwind rise, which is no doubt down to their bloody hard work and determination. Attending any ‘TDC’ gig shows you the level at which these guys operate, Frontman Shane and the band work hard, and the enthusiastic following shows that it’s paid off.
By now the venue has filled nicely, and making your way through it is something of a journey up the Amazon. Thankfully the bar is close to the stage, not that you can see or get to it. I’m informed that there is another way around the outside that brings you in my the bar at the back of the venue, a cunning plan indeed.
Starting their set off with ‘Who Did It’, ‘The Fighter’ and ‘Longtime Dead’, ‘The Crows’ instantly have the crowd onside and bouncing along. “Shane’ spends much of his time perched on the edge of the stage teasing the crowd as they sing along, then suddenly he’s on the barrier step and all but tumbling into the crowd, the crowd’s hands save him as he’s swamped by eager helping fans, mostly female.
A brief jump from the riser in-front of the drum kit tells him that his usual climbing and jumping antics might be a little restrained as the venue stage has a low ceiling. However this doesn’t stop him from hanging from the beam across the stage front or straddling the gap between stage and barrier, the eager fans grabbing his foot so he doesn’t slip.
Firm Fan favourite ‘Sick of Me’ has them all singing with renewed vigour, the gathered faithful have sung along to every song so far amidst a sea of waving arms and beaming smiles, the cup of love is overflowing for this band as they crunch their way through more bangers such as ‘Be You’, ‘Someone Someday’ and ‘Blink of an Eye’. The interplay of the band is fun, Shane marches around the band making as much of a fuss with the crowd with the banter flowing back and forth, his strong Welsh accent is great with the re-buttles, in fact it brought back childhood memories of Max Boyce, I’m not sure why, but he came to mind as Shane was battling sarcastically with the hecklers!
Carrying on we get ‘Skin on Skin’, ‘Reaper’ and ‘Go Get It’ and these yet again go down well with the fans. The setlist has been a greatest hits so far, so no night would be complete without the anthem that is ‘Rock N Roll Ain’t Dead’. This absolute knock out of a tune brings the night to an end. Its catchy intro has the crowd bouncing like kids in a ball pool as Shane and the band smash out this epic tune. Complete with whoa whoas it’s a driving song that see’s the crowd sing along arms and hair swinging to the beat.
And then its over. What a night! Steve and Zhany have delivered a great evening just like they deliver a great festival. They have been on hand throughout the evening chatting to friends old and new, spreading the warmth that is Rockin The Bowl, and making sure everyone is safe and well. In fact, a lady who was a little overcome with the evening was shepherded to a ringside seat by ‘Those Damn Crows’ frontman, Shane, and Steve who made sure she was watered, but more importantly, made sure she had a view of the rest of the gig from somewhere a little less frenetic. This will no doubt help spread the word that Sheffield puts on a great, annual, music festival run by people who actually care about the music and the fans and not just the income it generates.
The night has been a complete success, the fans leave with huge smiles after speaking to the bands who have gathered at the merch’ stand, on their way out.
Surprisingly the venue empties quickly and I find myself stood alone! I turned up with two reprobates and now it would seem I’ve got to find them if we’re going to get home before dawn.
Wandering around I catch one of them exiting the gents, I follow him back to the dressing rooms where Steve and Zhany are having a celebratory drink or two. Well deserved Id say.
So, goodbyes given and a big thanks to all involved and with a 90-minute drive home I manage to herd these ‘kittens’ back towards the car, dragging one from out of the ‘Crows’ tour bus on the way. No sooner have we set off that’s there’s snoring from the back seat, slumped in his seat belt Kitten 1 Is going to hurt in the morning. A sign of a great night!
Steve and Zhany have rocked the Corp with the help of the long awaited ‘Shane’ and the ‘Crows’. Long may they carry on being successful, and here’s to a great line up at 2022’s Rockin The Bowl Festival and hopefully, we’ll see some of you there!
Photography by Manny Manson for MPM