Home Gigs Gig Review : Kris Barras Band with Scarlet Rebels and Tribeless – The Tramshed, Cardiff – Friday 11th March 2022

Gig Review : Kris Barras Band with Scarlet Rebels and Tribeless – The Tramshed, Cardiff – Friday 11th March 2022

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Review by Gary Spiller for MPM

The musical powers that be have strongly advised up taking their recommended prescription. So on a wet Friday evening, it’s off to the surgery, otherwise known as Cardiff’s Tramshed, for a triple shot in the arm.

A soothing dosage of a musical version of the perfect hat-trick; on offer this evening are three vibrant variants of highly contagious rock n’ roll.

Unfortunately, we are late for our appointment; there’s the none too insignificant matter of an international rugby match in the Welsh capital. The M4 traffic is crawling at a glacier-like pace and city parking is at a premium. By the time we get to The Tramshed it’s taken just shy of three hours to travel just 62 miles.

It’s massive apologies to youthful Welsh quadrumvirate Tribeless for arriving with just a couple tracks of their set remaining. this band has exploded incendiary-like onto the scene since their formation back in 2019. Their hi-energy melding of alternative rock with electronic undertones coupled with a strong work ethic has ensured support slots such as this one and with Those Damn Crows which serve to further enhance their already pullulating reputation.

This is most certainly a band to watch in the coming months; they have grabbed the attention of Planet Rock with stellar slots at the most recent instalments of Rock Stock and Winter’s End.

With the explosive force of attempting to trap lightning in a glass bottle 2021 single ‘Formed By Us’ is a fiercely searing track that sets the atmosphere afire. Expressive vocalist Lydia McDonald’s wide-ranging voice wraps itself about the buzzsaw riffs and beats laid down by her on-stage compatriots.

The punchy number ‘Glass Souls’ brings their opening slot to a thunderous conclusion Pen this four-piece as ‘Ones to watch’ in 2022 and you’ll see them soar!

South Wales is a fecund region for euphonious high calibre rock; a musical equivalent of the rich loamy soils beloved of East Anglian agriculture. This evening’s headliner Kris Barras has a broad crop to select from and has chosen judiciously.

With main tour guests Florence Black having their very own headline show at The Tramshed in April, with Steelhouse Awayday III, the services of Llanelli’s Scarlet Rebels have been secured.

2022 has been a veritable twisting turning rollercoaster of a ride for this quintet – the year beginning with the postponement of their album tour but then regally gatecrashing the top 10 of the Official UK Album Charts – so when it was announced that frontman Wayne Doyle had, less than 48 hours before the gig, been diagnosed with laryngitis there was little evidence of panic within The Rebels camp.

There’s a steely determined nucleus herein which prides itself on the adage ‘The show must go on’; so step forward guitarists Josh Townsend and Chris ‘CJ’ Jones along with bassist Wayne ‘Pricey’ Esmonde to share the lead vocals amongst them.

Back in the Welsh capital for the first time since playing to a packed Fuel Club back in September The Rebels are keenly focused. Commencing their 40-minute slot with the ripsnorting ‘I’m Alive’; the opening track from the chart-denting ‘See Through Blue’. CJ jumps then spins as he hits the opening notes before Josh takes the vocal lead with some slick, raw tones.

Los Angeles brash glam is transported to the southern swamplands for a few minutes before a ‘Storm’ begins to brew. Four-string maestro Pricey does a sterling job on vocals, smiling broadly as he leads the crowd with the ‘Whoa’s’ as CJ whips up the fervour alongside.

After prowling the stage for the opening songs Wayne steps forward “If you’re a bit confused I’m the band’s singer; I can talk but not sing.” before adding “Thanks to Kris Barras, he’s a cool guy. He’s hit the top 40 at number 27!”

Continuing the run of single releases from their recent release The Rebels are on their way with ‘Take You Home’ with Pricey’s vocals adding a smooth edge to this talismanic exhortation. A rousing chorus, with CJ sharing the vocal duties, has the crowd onside but in a totally unexpected moment Wayne steps forward with a resounding ‘Come on!” as he reclaims the vocals.

The alluring urges can no longer be resisted as shifts up through into overdrive with Wayne’s brother Gary hammering a seismic beat from his kit to take the numbering through to a thunderous crescendo.

With a smile as wide as Cardiff Bay Wayne is clearly delighted that the massive gamble to test his voice has not, seemingly, had an immediate effect. The Stereophonics turned up to 11 infused anthem ‘Let Me In’ has the Tramshed crowd in fine voice, warming up nicely for the main course of this evening’s delectable hard rockbanquet.

The serenely understated balladic ‘I Can Sleep Now’ has found its rightful place in the set and as the track appears to fade to an outro we’re squarely struck by an igneous firecracker of a solo from CJ with his band-mates in full bore. An extended ‘Save Me’, flying the flag for the Rebels’ back catalogue, has the gathering right onside.

A loud roar greets the, now, time-honoured midsong rendition of the biographical AC/DC classic ‘It’s A Long Way To The Top (If You Wanna Rock n’ Roll)’. Wayne’s banter with the crowd goes down a storm as Gary shakes his head and puts his drumsticks down in mock disgust of their vocal efforts. Spurred on the healthy-sized gathering rocks the very rafters with their boisterous retort.

Wayne is very much on point as The Rebels wrap up their set with the highly resonant ‘These Days’, which includes a most bluesy of CJ solos, leaving The Tramshed gathering in the mood for some face-melting Kris Barras Band style.

This evening is just the third date on the much-awaited ‘Death Valley Paradise’ tour – the first Kris Barras Band headline tour in over two years – and the quartet are on total fire. It’s the very day that the aforementioned long-player has bulldozed its deserved way into the Top 40 of the Official UK Album Charts; garnering the number 27 position.

Over the course of the next 90 minutes we are taken upon a mellifluous odyssey with gritty vocals, fire-starting solos, thundering basslines and hammer of the god drumming all as scorching hot as the graben that forms Death Valley itself.

It’s a set that, understandably, leans towards the latest release but there’s a mahoosive surprise up the sleeve ready to be sprung at the very off. There’s an adage that states “Save the best to last” but Kris doesn’t play by the mainstream ‘rules’; conventional isn’t his style.

Anticipation builds throughout The Tramshed as the house lights darken and a deep blue lighting bathes the stage. A deep, pulsating intro as the band take to the stage. Ramping up the atmosphere hard-as-nails skinsman Billy Hammett’s tumbling drum roll draws a line in the arenaceous sand. There’s no going back from this point. The white Telecaster of Josiah J.

Manning growls into life whilst the off the scale kinetic levels of bassist Kelpie McKenzie reach out to the furthest reaches of the venue. A hairy-arsed grizzly bear of a roar erupts from the crowd to greet Kris Barras as he strides onto the stage.

The stage light flashes brightly and the quadrumvirate storm right into the anthemic ‘Hail Mary’. Kris, left foot stomping along, leads the crowd who are in fine voice. He covers the stage for the solo; first out left then right whilst all the while Kelpie more than matches his energy levels animatedly bouncing like the proverbial premium battery-powered bunny.

Equine ghosts race spectrally across the sand dunes as the KBB launch into the rugged ‘Dead Horses’ before rolling seamlessly into ‘Rock n’ Roll Running Through My Veins’ with Kris proclaiming “Gonna lose control, let go of these reins.” to keep a horsey theme going.

‘These Voices’ – one of Kris’ personal favourites – with its brief flirtations with Cream and Josiah’s dirty blues rhythms follows. This particular muscle car of a track is an injection of Metallica into Led Zeppelin slab of desert rock.

Light It Up (Ignite) does precisely what it says on the tin calescently sparking through the night sky as the power shows absolutely no sign of relenting.

Wave after wave of captivating blues-edged rock crash right over The Tramshed. By the time the midway point of the set is reached as the outro of the igneous forces of ‘What You Get’ reverberate so it’s time for one and all to take a breather.

The acoustic segment that was trialled at Kris’ hometown festive gig last year has been rightly retained with Josiah and Kris taking their respective seats for a couple of tracks. A re-worked deliciously oak toned ‘Propane’ is followed by a hugely impassioned rendition of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s ‘Simple Man’. The latter is a most pleasurable hangover from the ‘Box Room Sessions’ of lockdown.

Kris hails his partner-in-six-strings “Let’s hear it for Josiah J. Manning! He’s a clever fucker but don’t tell him that. He’ll want more pay!” he wrily observes.

Raw emotions crackle as Kris pours his complete soul into ‘Watching Over Me’ which is poignantly dedicated to his late father. The dry, warm airs of the foehn winds blow over the glistening salt flats as the V8 Mustang that is ‘My Parade’ brings the house crashing down around The Tramshed audience.

Handing his guitar to a member of the stage crew Kris, mic in hand, takes to the barrier to engage up close and personal with the fans. An emphatic response from the crowd produces goosebumps as the rallying cry chorus is sung right back from all within the arena.

“Cardiff you’ve been fucking awesome” Kris roars as he and his band exit the stage. Nobody is going anywhere, however, the desire for a further track is strong.

“Alright you buggers we’ll give you one more!” quips Kris upon returning to the stage for a gritty, growling ‘Lovers Or Losers’ to give the final veneer upon an extremely polished performance. One which has taken all the energy and potential of 2021’s gigs and wrapped them up in an evolutionary progressive ratcheting up of power and control.

Photography by Kelly Spiller for MPM

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