Review by Gary Spiller for MPM
Over two hours into a journey that is usually just over an hour long I begin to speculate. With over 20 miles remaining and with both motorway crossings of the Severn in a total pickle I really wished I hadn’t cursed so loudly at higher powers.
I promised myself that would truly be the final time that I don wet copper armour and swear at the gods, in true Pratchett-esque fashion, atop the highest of peaks. For there is, indeed, a deity upon whose doormat the responsibility of attending to the motorway network lands squarely upon. This overseer seems pretty disgruntled this evening!
However, we are not about to be dissuaded or turned back though. Battle through we shall for this evening promises to be a special one. Talented Welsh rock n’ roller Chez Kane brings her first headline UK tour back to her home soil. Right into the heart of the Valleys, a region that is completely synonymous with a nation’s culture and soul.
Opening this evening’s proceedings are, to me, a completely unknown quantity in the shape of Swiss hard rocking outfit Black Diamonds. However, well before the end of their 50 minutes plus long set it’s pretty damn evident that this quartet of guys from the St. Gallen Rhine Valley are an outrageously skilful and entertaining bunch. In a nutshell the perfect accompaniment for tonight’s headliner.
Enthralling from the very off these Alpine rockers are in a determined mood to create structural damage. As a pulsating intro tape booms, they file on to The Patriot’s stage before roaring into the title track of their most recent release ‘No-Tell Hotel.’ Opening the gates to this most prestigious of establishments we are given the warmest of welcomes and offered a tasty banquet of fine hard rock dining.
Catchy, meaty choruses with glitter aplenty the Diamonds’ brand of rock n’ roll is highly infectious. The mountain cat is resplendent as the quadrumvirate barrel headlong into the high-paced riffage of ‘Evil Twin’ with bassist Andi Barrels initially taking over the lead vocal role from clinquant guitarist Mich Kehl. Such are the talents that vocals switch with consummate ease and the six-string duties are eloquently shared between Kehl and his sidekick Chris ‘Blade’ Johnson. An ever-so sweet twin lead break sits atop this proficient stockpile.
The frenzied momentum continues apace with Kech taking a very moment to enquire “How ya doing? Are you doing ok?” as the initial onslaught continues with ‘I’ll Be Ok.’ Layering a gravelly ZZ Top sort of a riff upon LA glam with power and precision in commensurate amount the Diamonds have laid down a vigorous triple-induction.
Chris’ Tiger Print ESP, aptly, howls and wails within ‘Forever Wild’ with a Vai-imprinted solo setting the band’s inner spirit free.
2017s ‘Pieces Of A Broken Dream’ melds a curious underpinning of Police’s ‘SOS’ and Yes’ ‘Owner Of A Lonely Heart’ to provide foundation to notch the gears through to eleven. Behind the maelstrom out-front skinsman Manu Peng keeps the metaphorical metronome ticking.
The band are loving life as much as The Patriot faithful are. Mich enthuses “Fucking crazy! Great stuff!” Recognising someone he knows “This is for you!” to bring in the semi-acoustic introductory tones of ‘Lonesome Road.’ Mull over the resultant outcome if Cinderella and The Georgia Satellites were to be locked into a dark cellar. You’d be in the right ballpark.
‘Reaching For The Stars’ – the fifth track to be checked-out from the environs of the ‘Hotel’ – is a crowd-pleaser abounding with bounteous hooks. Even more than a year’s subscription to Angling Times could ever muster. With Andi, playfully poking Chris’ work-enforced absence at the start of this tour, the Patriot is led in a triple burst of ‘Fuck you’ in the guitarist’s ‘honour.’ It sure is a ‘Thrill Ride’ with the Diamonds spicing things up by throwing in an AC/DC shaped spanner into the gleaming glam rock machine.
The rock n’ roll gods atop their lofty peaks are most certainly appeased as a tasty deliverance of Gary Moore and Phil Lynott’s top five smash ‘Out In The Fields’ is served upon a gleaming platter. It’s full-on party-mode for set closing ‘Hands Of Destiny’ with Manu stepping out from behind his kit to join his bandmates for introductory harmonies that herald this Alpine metallic offering. Sabaton in eyeliner without doubt and rightfully proud! Taking a thoroughly merited bow as the outro plays Black Diamonds have won hearts and minds on only their second visit to our shores. I’m not alone in looking forward to them returning in the future.
Having fronted Kane’d, alongside her sisters Steph and Stacey, for over a decade Chez Kane was approached by Crazy Lixx’s frontman Danny Rexon regarding a project. Subsequently branching out into a solo career she was signed up to Frontiers in 2019. With her recently released sophomore album ‘Powerzone’ garnering rave reviews Chez has hit the road for her first ever solo headline tour.
Just over five months on from her debut Welsh show at April’s Station 18 festival in Swansea Chez has taken her performance up even further. Per cubic inch this incredibly skilled singer packs more punch than that of any pugilistic heavyweight champion. At the end of a captivating set, clocking in at a few shades over 75 minutes, the gathered ensemble can safely conclude that a bright future lies waiting for this effervescent performer.
The stage lights are extinguished, and Chez Kane’s logo appears on the large screen at the behind the drum kit. The scene is set and Def Leppard’s signature track ‘Pour Some Sugar on Me’ is the precursive exordium for the band to enter stage right.
In a detonative burst Chez emerges out from the shadows; crystal clear vocals perfectly complement the precise product conveyed forth from her band. To her right, long-time partner, Harry Elliot dispatches seemingly effortless solo from his Strat this more battered and worn than it is white whilst the Ready brothers James (guitar) and Keiran (bass) are both thoroughly reassuring components. Behind the slick composure is Jay Haines well known in these parts as the percussive force within the much-missed Everyday Heroes.
The polished AOR of the Heart-infused ‘I Just Want You’ – the second single from ‘Powerzone’ – sees the crowd inside The Patriot swell to comfortably full. Setting the scene as the strobes flash to segue smooth-as-silk into the anthemic ‘Too Late For Love.’ Born in the 90s to rock out the 80s today Chez and co. play for higher stakes with a Vixen resonance ensuring a healthy pay-out from the audience as the increased powerage is thoroughly appreciated.
Expressing their collective gratitude Chez pauses to ask “Have you brought your singing voices? I know we can sing in Wales!” Belted out with seismic force ‘All Of It’ the quintet gets a little bit more in return with the chorus being stridently sung crowd side. Hands are vehemently clapped along to Jay’s solidify beat, a venue completely onboard.
Chez, in her lilting Welsh accent, observes “You are sounding bloody beautiful!” She knows she is home, amongst friends and family. Her parents and sister Steph, working the merch, are stood just a few feet to our left. The accelerator is pressed firmly to the floor and the freeway flashes by with ‘Midnight Rendezvous with it’s alloying of Heart and Def Leppard spiced with a touch of Motley Crue and Joan Jett to give a neat zesty tang.
The clutches of autumn hold firm outside but here in the sizzling surroundings of Wales’s finest rock club summer is in full control. Appropriate for this first ever UK headline ‘Nationwide’ rocks along full throttle comfortable in the heat. ‘Better Than Love,’ off Chez’s eponymous debut long-player, drops the tempo a notch but not the mood. This Vixen-drenched melodious power ballad inhabits a special place in Chez’s heart with Harry’s six-string silky smooth.
With Chez disappearing off the stage to the ‘costume department’ James and Harry exchange licks during a ‘jam session.’ Returning for the summery vibrancy – complete with US radio-themed intro – of Stateside rocker ‘(The Things We Do) When We’re Young In Love.’ For a moment I’m that teenage student heading off with Vixen ticket firmly in hand. Rock City calls. With laser precision James nails a solo as we’re reminded of warmer times around the corner.
Cheekily probing the crowd Chez enquires “Have you seen the sexy video for this one?” With a piquant Crue-styled riff the rousing ‘Love Gone Wild’ is an engaging, sassy triumph leading to Chez concluding “You lot are definitely wild!”
If Clapton had played in Journey, the result could well have been ‘Defender Of The Heart. Dedicated to Katie this beautiful semi-ballad is ensorcellment of the highest plane. Lights dance and Chez controls a captive mood. Foxy rocker ‘Ball n’ Chain’ follows before we’re invited to ‘Get It On.’ Smiling widely Harry kicks out whilst Chez belts out the words, a clear chemistry between the pair. The party is in full swing in Crumlin.
With its ‘Helter Skelter’ inspired intro ‘Rock You Up’ is given an abrasive edge to beneficial effect whilst the stellar delivery of the latest album’s title track ‘Powerzone’ goes down an absolute treat. The Iron Maiden-fringed twin lead break between James and Harry a highlight. If this were the late 80s then this band would be playing and selling out arena sized venues.
Thanking Ang and all at The Patriot Chez takes time to introduce her bandmates and breaking the amazing news that Harry will be joining the ranks of Tyketto in 2023.
The set is brought to sparkling finale with the summery vibes of The Ramones in the rocked right up ‘Rocket On The Radio.’ With rocking out at its very core this is destined to be a live favourite for tours to come. Muscled up, chrome gleaming it’s the perfect way to bring the house down at the tail-end of a legitimately memorable evening.
Photography by Kelly Spiller for MPM