Review by Gary Spiller for MPM
Even with the first frost proper of Winter having a good nibble hard-rocking antipodeans Wicked Smile and Cassidy Paris roll into Swansea determined to bring their particular rock n’ roll sunshine to the chilly UK.
It’s a tour that nearly didn’t happen; with main support band The Brink pulling out with less than a fortnight to go with their drummer Reubes sadly succumbing to a back injury. With this went the backline and kit required. However, with an almighty last-minute behind the scenes effort organisers Midnight Tornado Touring, with the remarkable assistance of no less than seven (!) bands, rescued a seemingly lost cause.
This heroic input was worth it as come the opening sets of the tour so both Wicked Smile and Cassidy drew rave reviews from all quarters. Those who bore witness to them tearing up the HRH Great Yarmouth stages in front of large crowds knew that a talented bunch of Aussies had landed. A further seven dates in and the tour has turned southwards steering a course into South Wales. This evening North Welsh hard-hitting trio Mad Haven head into town to make a rather tasty metalliferous filling in between the slices of Australian of hard rock.
The burgeoning youthful reputation of Cassidy Paris, literally turned 20 years old a few days prior, is one that had reached these shores some time before her actual arrival. There’s an assuredness in her maturity; a role-model for those aspiring to strive forwards in their individuality onstage.
Kicking off with the mischievous teen angst of ‘Like I Never Loved You’ Cassidy is quickly into her stride. This 80s Heart-infused anthem gives an insight into the influences at the core. Close your eyes for this is, indeed, the offspring of Joan Jett and Vixen’s Janet Gardner.
With a quick “How you doing out there?” Cassidy rolls into right into the country-fringed ‘Heaven Tonight.’ Expressively touching her heart as she sings “I wanna be the one who makes your heart beat” there’s a sense of Avril Lavigne. Six-string in hand she faces her father Steve Janevski during his solo, a strength within family bonds.
With its stampeding intro and pop-punk undercurrents ‘Talk About It,’ Cassidy’s debut single from 2017, sinks its sharpened claws deep into an already captivated Hangar crowd. Dispensing with her guitar Cassidy prowls the stage with feline intent, jumping out onto the bass bins, afront the stage, during latest single ‘Danger.’ Connections made.
Dedicated to Melbourne friends Deb and Chloe who have, incredibly, made it over to the UK sultry voodoo rocker ‘Give Me Your L.O.V.E.’ casts its spell. This is what occurs when Joan Jett and Miley Cyrus share a bottle of Jack, fact! Respect is paid to the former the very next number with a stonking version of ‘I Hate Myself For Loving You’ which gets Hangar singing along.
Written a couple of years ago Cassidy explains that final track ‘Wannabe’ is based upon the herd-like tendencies of humanity and the obsession with popularity. Midway through this full-bore freight-train Cassidy brings up a young friend – Skylar, the daughter of Midnight Tornado founder Mark Christansen – to accompany her for the final moments of a monumental half hour. This is the Rock n’ Roll revolution!
In true metal gods style the AC/DC intro-tape barks the enquiry “Are you ready for a good time?” as Llandudno rockers Mad Haven blast onto the spacious Hangar stage. With a cumulonimbus thunder of drums, the Welsh triumvirate hurtle headlong into set-opener ‘Wait To Continue.’ Hair flies spectacularly and guitarist Tom Rogowski roars “Let’s go!” Straining every sinew Mad Haven are fully unleashed.
Tom’s brother Alex hammers the drumkit with a godlike strength; there’s something in the Welsh water for sure. Fellow percussive Welshmen Gary Doyle (Scarlet Rebels) and Ronnie Huxford (Those Damn Crows) have some healthy competition in their midst! Flawlessly rolling into this classic power trio pull no punches with ‘Get Lost’ with a Ramonesy sucker-punch of a chorus.
The resonant rumbling bass of Morgan Owen-Rees in coupling with Alex’s forceful percussion contributes in swathes to the swaggering ‘What’s Left Behind.’ With a healthy dollop of NWOBHM the beast that is ‘The Truth’ bellows resoundingly. MH’s latest single ‘Liar,’ due for release mid-December, prowls wolf-like with an enthusiastic chant, at the solicitation of the band, of the title emanating from the crowd. Alex sagely notes “Fair play you make some noise!” A wag retorts “We try our best!”
Brash, meaty riffage of ‘Light It Up’ sets the fuse wire burning. Sparked by Tom’s Lynyrd Skynyrd soaked solo the band spectacularly detonates. Influences are worn proudly as badges of honour with the AC/DC inspired licks of ‘Never Too Late’ and all out tub-thumper ‘Unfold’ producing worthy headbangers.
Tom asks the gathered ‘Are You Ready?’ dispatching the finest meld of 80s metal. Look herein and there’s the likes of Crue, WASP and MSG to discover. The energy expended is great and unrelenting but with all good things must come an end. Out front amongst the finest young rock bands currently on the emergent scene Mad Haven wrap up matters with the crescendo of ‘Where Did You Go.’
With a hugely well received debut album ‘Wait For The Night’ under their collective belt Wicked Smile announce themselves with the fulminating harbinger ‘Killer At Large.’ Symphonic demons are ushered from the underworldly lairs and sent forth to wreak their wanton desires. Bassist Glen Cav, neatly attired in his newly acquired Swansea Bay Records t-shirt, commands the centre stage flanked by the twin six-string prowess of Steve Janevski and Dave Graham. Behind exuberant drummer Jason Tyro raises the horns heralding the Randy Rhoads styled intro. The scene is completed with the expansive vocals of former Pegazus and Eyefear lead singer Danny Cecati.
Ever humble Danny later explains that he’s on antibiotics and is singing a key lower than he would normally! There’s touches of primetime Kiske and Dickinson entwined but there’s more to Cecati than just this; there’s a classical essence that stands him apart.
The axe-cutters riffing of ‘We Fall’ is anthemic; I make a mental note to myself that it’s refreshing to witness an Australian metal outfit that isn’t a direct carbon-copy of the mighty AC/DC. Whilst these bands have their rightful place it’s a worthwhile exercise making note of such. Valkyries, the guiders of souls, cry whilst ravens circle as Swansea is offered a ‘Date With The Devil.’ The sirens lure the unwary upon the perilous rocks with their orchestration from Hades. Appropriately there are horns raised aplenty as the twin guitars howl.
Danny exudes the collective enthusiasm “This is awesome! This whole tour has been a great experience.” Gathering their breath after the opening triple salvo WS embrace a heavied up classic Whitesnake groove in ‘Love’s Got A Hold On You’ prior to ratcheting it up with an acerbic Ozzy/Rhoads delivery melded with an almost Magnum-esque harmony in ‘Last Goodbye.’
‘Wait For The Night’ fuses several gloriously sparkling elements ploughing a similarly inspired furrow to that of Kreek’s ‘Missiles.’ From Helloween’s legendary ‘Dr. Stein’ to Magnum’s ‘Back To Earth’ is a stellar brew for sure.
Inviting Cassidy to join him for ‘Stronger’ Danny smiles “This is my favourite time. The next track means a lot to us both.” Cassidy is every ounce metal royalty with the two singers complementing much to the ensemble.
The guests aren’t finished as Mad Haven’s Tom Rogowski is brought forth for a rollickingly fun rendition of Ozzy’s ‘I Don’t Know.’ It’s very much been an evening of musical camaraderie. Now slightly out of sync with their setlist ‘Don’t Wait For Me’ is reshuffled into the pack to pronounced effect. There isn’t a dry eye in the house for this emotive power ballad that dips and soars with apparent ease.
At once above the highest of cloud tops the next plummeting groundward it’s a track of the highest compelling. Wicked Smile close off with the gutsy headbanger ‘Daze Of Delirium’ that gains altitude afterburners glowing brightly. Running at full throttle pretty much for the best part of 50 minutes there isn’t much left in the tank; with all bar one of the tracks from their debut long-player being aired I’m one of many who depart clutching a copy. We eagerly await their return.
Photography by Kelly Spiller for MPM