Review by Ivor Whitten for MPM
The Speakeasy at Queen’s Student’s Union was the venue for this evening’s entertainment (ably organised by The Distortion Project) and with the sun shining and having a good meal anyone tottering along would be in a good mood. Tonight would only add to the feeling.
The stage was small and intimate which immediately gave a good vibe that the music was going to be up close and personal. And as the three bands played their sets that was exactly what happened.
Up first were Delusional Silence, a local five-piece band who proved to a solid knit NWOBM group delivering a powerful rock sound. Chugging in with “Walking talking Zombies” you immediately got that Iron Maiden feel and with the coarse rough vocals on top it put you in mind of Paul Di’Anno. The fantastic delivery of “Cerebral pest”, “Jekyll and Hyde” and “Fall of the Truth” kept the pace going.
You could visibly see that they were not just going through the motions but really enjoying being on stage. They finished their set with “We are Not the One” and “Fade Away” continuing to prove they loved what they were doing as a group. Each song was full of rhythmic guitar riffs that ensured you could not stand still, the basslines were perfectly pounding , the drums made your heart pound and the vocals grabbed you by the throat.
Each band member was absolutely giving it all and it showed in the performance including the down to earth banter from the singer, Phil Ashe, and the other band members. It wasn’t put on, it wasn’t awkward, it was genuine fun chatting between himself and the band and the crowd. Overall, they did a fantastic job and hopefully they will go far. If you like your Iron maiden, Judas Priest or
Next up was Divides Unfold, a local four-piece band with a pure rock soul with a professional polish that just got you pumping. Starting straight off with “Fire of the Sun”, “In the Dark” and “Distain” you got an immediate feel a perfect blend of different flavours of grungy hard rock, solid riffs and licks, driving drumbeats and smoothly clean vocals.
Then came a new song “Gravity” which they delivered with the vigour they have already proved they can. they finished their set with “Far Beyond” and another new song “Saviour”. Each song was conveyed with a perfect tightness and performance that would have you raising the horns to rock before you realised it. The vocals were stunningly clean and clear, effortlessly supporting the guitar riffs and slick solos, solid bass rhythms and solid thumping drums beats.
The whole set had the heart pumping and there is no way you could sit still. The tempo throughout was just pure rock and the band was constantly in the moment which really brought the crowd along with them. Divides Unfold are a tight band that you really need to check out and where possible see live. And he probably gets this all the time, but Mark Penney on vocals and guitar, while he has his own sound gives of that Eddie Vedder vibe in his delivery. All the tunes are classics in the making.
Then came the headliners for the evening, stOp sToP, a three-piece band formed originally in 2009 in Barcelona, who went on the most rock and roll adventure you could think of, by selling everything and travelling to the UK to ply their trade and create their own story. With Jacob on vocals and bass, Danny on drums and vocals, and, with only a couple weeks in the job and playing his first gig with the group, Dennis on guitar.
Immediately hitting the stage, and without a word you know you are in for a unique rock and roll experience as they are not exactly run of the mill. Jacob with white face paint on, Dennis porting a very stylish cowboy hat and Danny resplendently half naked behind the drums.
And what a mesmerising mop of hair Danny has! The intrigue is raised with everyone there. Then Jacob looks at the crowd and as an impossibly wide grin appears across his face they kick off the show with “Raised on Rock and Roll” and what a brilliant start it was. You are immediately hit with the knowledge you are in for a fun, high octane and gloriously outrageous performance.
Delivering numbers like “Toilet Party”, “Anarchy” and “Renegade” they just ploughed through fantastically catchy numbers that just have you moving like a lunatic, or at the very least a massive grin on your own face. “Join the Party”, “Let me fill your void” and “Banana” continued the vibrant madness that was unfolding in front of everyone as the whole eclectic looking band just utterly gelled into a beautifully perfect amalgamation of 80’s hair metal, frenzied energy, uplifting entertainment and serious silliness.
It was such a beautiful sight to behold – seeing a performance of pure joyous rock with blistering riffage, funky basslines, thundering drum rhythms and a wonderful unique warbling set of vocals. It is one of those once in a lifetime moments where your head goes ‘this really should not work’ but your heart just falls in love with it all and then your head catches up.
More upbeat frenetic rock tunage came with “Turn my life around”, “Poser” and “Viva Satanas” and honestly by this time it was bewildering how they could still stand up never mind jump around like they were directly plugged into the electric socket. Just watching them and the sheer energy they exuded would make you exhausted! It was blatantly obvious these three rock performers were professionals to the core.
Then came “In n Out” before their signature tune “Stop, Stop”. And what a performance they were ending this set on. It began nothing short of an almost 18-minute marathon of absolute beautiful bedlam.
Apart from being an excellent catchy tune, “Stop, Stop” was a tour de force with the obligatory band member intros and solos which then led on to the band physically touring the venue floor through the audience until they found the bar and continued performing from behind the beer pumps. Then back they went to the stage before an incredible audience participation and performance piece as they finally seemed to run out of juice and fall to the floor.
The roar of appreciation and applause raised the roof. And yet, while still on the floor they did not take too much encouragement to get back up and perform one more song . and while still on the floor, Jacob started a well-used and known bassline while singing the immortal lyrics of “Rolling Down the River” while mixing in a smattering of AC/DC’s “Thunderstruck”. With that they had finished a blistering performance that left everyone gobsmacked and exultant at the opportunity to see such a tight rock band in peak condition delivering an unforgettable set.
Overall, the three bands gave such a performance each that the £10 was worth it for one. Delusional Silence and Divides Unfold acquitted themselves fantastically well, professionally delivered and left you wanting more. stOp sToP though were another level altogether.
It cannot be overstated that it is criminal this three-piece are not more widely known about, and hopefully that will be rectified soon. They gave their everything during their set and the energy, enthusiasm in performing on stage and the superb delivery of fun rock was just a joy to behold. All in all, it was a unique night that can only ever be experienced in person. Do not miss the chance to see any of the three bands if you can.
stOp sToP are an enthralling three-piece band with a passion for what they do and provide a frenetic frenzied set that leaves you panting for more. They fit perfectly in the same category as Steel Panther, you know you are in for a good time with these lads. They are genuine, humble rockers with hearts of gold and a real appreciation for their fans, taking way longer than they should to chat and mingle with attendees.
They are currently on tour and you can find out more about it on their website at https://www.stopstoptheband.com/tour
Their fifth album is ‘Lowcost Life’, was released in 2021 and is available in all the normal places.
Photography by MPM