Review by Gary Spiller for MPM
We seem to spend a lot of time at one gig or another in the South Wales area. From the likes of Man and Budgie via the Manics and Stereophonics to the latter day likes of Those Damn Crowns, Florence Black, and Scarlet Rebels it’s always been a fecund region for a wide variety of rock music.
However, it’s not just about the bands as alongside them are a number of promoters and venues working, in the area, tirelessly to provide a stage or a steppingstone for these bands to utilise as they strive forwards. Thus, it seems most appropriate that we find ourselves heading northwards up the valley to Crumlin for our first gig of 2023.
In a first time partnering of venue and promoter this evening is one such case. Our good friend Ceri Davies brings his two projects (Rock n’ Roll Circus and Grumpy Clown Events) to the fabled surroundings of the Patriot Home of Rock with three widely diverse and relatively unknown talents for general delectation.
Up first are The Philo Beddoe Band five local chaps who have been booting about for a good while now, but our paths haven’t crossed to date. Their collective pride in their identity and background is plainly evident and they’re all the better for this. Set closer ‘Iron & Steel,’ the blue-collar title-track off their 2020 debut EP, written in tribute to their hometown Merthyr Tydfil is demonstrative of the depth of their pride.
This is the cloth from which they, and their fellow townsfolk, are cut from, “Red is the colour of the workingman’s right” state the poignant lyrics. A befitting manner, one which is deservedly well received, in which to end a terrific set.
From the moment they step on the stage and let fly with the good honest hard-driving blues-rock of ‘Pink Gin’ you know you’re in for a treat. Their impassioned Welsh slant on southern rock n’ roll guarantees this though without the presence of even a single orangutan that their band name might infer. Their triple six-string onslaught catches the ear in terms of sharpness throughout.
The precise slide of the Gibson SG, the industrious Parfitt-esque riffing of the Telecaster and the exalted tones of the Stratocaster interweave about one another yet stand tall and clear as separate entities within an encompassing howling freight-train of a rhythm. Testament to both band and tonight’s sound engineer Dylan.
Conjuring strong imagery, screeching tyres smoke on the canyon blacktop within the highway rocking ‘Back On Top’ whilst Clapton is fused together in an amalgam with Creedence Clearwater Revival in the swaggering confines of ‘Take Me Home.’
A stand-out segment of not just PB’s set but the entire evening is their blending together of a brace of tracks from the vaults of their fellow Merthyr musos Man. The acid rock of ‘The Ride and The View’ segues, seemingly effortlessly, into the stoner boogie of the humorously fringed ‘Bananas’ with the latter’s words relating “I like to eat bananas, ‘cos they got no bones.” I now have an appetite not just for soft fruit but to head into the, until now, personally uncharted realms of the back catalogue of this hitherto overlooked band.
‘Mean Josephine’ with its sped up 12 bar shuffle and lament to a mean motherfucker firmly dunks Quo into the deep south states. A fan of the Frantic Four lurks within the ranks for sure. Two numbers from the EP round off matters with the southern Quo charms continuing in ‘All That Glitters Ain’t Gold’ before the aforementioned ‘Iron & Steel’ takes the curtain bow with a Valleys’ dignity.
“All the heroes have gone, turned to dust and blown away” so the song goes but one senses that a new generation of heroes is being created.
There’s no headliner as such this evening with all three bands being afforded an hour or so; no egos purely plenty of respect between all concerned. It’s refreshing to witness and makes for a great atmosphere. Given that it’s mid-January and the challenges we’re all facing in the economic climate the Patriot is buzzing with a healthy number of punters all eager to shake of the festive blues with a prescribed dosage of rock n’ roll. The surgery is in full swing.
From the ashes of Northampton outfit The Last Of Us arose the splendour of filth that stands before us. The Big Dirty are about to go in ‘dry’ so to speak. Largely an unknown quantity, certainly to us, their enthusiasm and penchant for that a bit more risqué than the norm captivates from the very first moment they explode on to The Patriot’s stage.
The licentious feral blues-rock of set-opening ‘Dirty Rider’ sets the mood for what is to follow in the next 50 minutes or so. Extracted, like a further six of tonight’s songs, from their most recent album, 2020’s ‘The Sex’, it pelvic thrusts out of the PA with lead singer Jonny saucily stating, “It’s been my dream to be inside you.” Steel Panther collides with AC/DC in orgasmic fashion.
The frenzied metallic ‘Devil Woman’ (allegedly crazy between the sheets if you believe the impudent lyrics) maintains the theme. If there’s any doubt what this quartet’s intentions are. Sabbath taken to the seedier side of town by Twisted Sister; “She’s a crazy lady and I won’t walk for weeks!” The band’s softer side is exposed momentarily in a gentler segment with a subsequent chanted chorus engaging.
We’re heartily welcomed, with tongues firmly inserted in cheeks, to ‘Sex Rock City’ – the titular track from their 2018 formative release – in a pulverising rampage along the conurbation’s mean streets. A hat-trick from ‘The Sex’ ensues with the darkened grooves of ‘Lightweight Champion’ preceding the utter mayhem of ‘Whiskey Pistol.’ Naturally, a rambunctious reply is received upon Jonny’s question of “Who wants free whiskey?” Don’t they quite expected to be ‘dispensed’ from a water pistol though!
The gritty blues-ridden ‘Sensual Lover’ rounds off the triumvirate in unexpected sensitivity with a touch of Zodiac Mindwarp thrown in. James Cutler’s degenerative bass groove underpins the bitching heavy metal queen that is ‘Under The Crimson Moon’ – a 2021 single-only release – with a power that, if utilised correctly, can break open the securest of strong-rooms.
Innuendos and crotch wiggling aside these guys are deadly serious musicians and this foundation is most evident in how they leave their mark in a stunning last third. Everyone has guilty musical pleasures and one of mine is Chris Isaak’s 1990 smash hit ‘Wicked Game’; taking this timeless track and turning it on its very head The Big Dirty captivate every corner of the Patriot. Seems like I’m not the only who has this track on a secret playlist after all. Goosebumps anyone?
The band are not finished with ‘The Sex’ with a riotous pounding beat ‘Wham Bam (Thank You Ma’am)’ reduces all in its path to dust. A legit cat 5 hurricane rocker for sure. Ascending the juggernaut’s gearing ‘Rhythm Of My Drum’ has the Patriot crowd onside before the set roars to a climax.
Or so we think. Jonny asks, “Shall we do a cover?” as he hugs a familiar face at the barrier. The ensemble is in no mood to let the quartet go without a final hurrah and fair play they deliver in style. A hard-hitting metalled rendition brings the rafters down with the Cranberries classic ‘Zombie’ given a piquant reworking. The chorus is sung raucously and resonates about the valley, no doubt heard in Newport. It’s been one of those sets!
As the air-raid sirens wail a mournful warning a helter-skeltering of guitars pitch in their cry. The bass and percussion thunder as one as the lightening flashes. Cymbals crash as warrior-like vocalist Dox raises both hands. With a final roar Lords Of Ruin hit the boards with a breakneck momentum.
It’s well over a year since we first caught Lords Of Ruin in impressive action in 2021’s Hard Rock Hell festival. Their intensity and fury were engaging and it’s great to witness how they’ve gone on to further strengths since with the release of their debut four-track EP ‘Ruin Within.’
The denizens of the depths howl and wail as lifeforces wither and die as ‘Decay’ spreads. “Leave the past behind, stop the voices in my mind” Dox touchingly roars in this rock-crushing metal monster of an opening track. Attention is grabbed and grasped.
Hammering right into ‘Broken Dreams’ the Carlisle based five-piece unleash a ferocious inner demon. Crepuscular spectral presences forcibly enter from an unseen ethereal plane to apply the metalliferous wrecking ball. This is an outfit that flattens that of the past with an eye upon the future; laying bare a post-apocalyptic wasteland upon which they will rebuild.
By way of introduction “[This is] one of our first tunes that came out” notes Dox before ‘Forgotten Memories’ rumbles in with a clatter of shields. From the badlands the Northern clansmen stand up the barren windswept edge. A harrowing war-cry rings out across the moorland as the forces sweep in from their mountainous habitat. The quintet mean business, absolutely no doubt of it. However, amongst the increasing maelstrom there is the subtly of control and nuance; this is a world that will be torn asunder with laser precision.
Coarse-grained, granular in nature ‘What’s Left’ runs wild as minds are opened up. A balance of absolution is provided by the gentle strains of ‘Walk The Line.’ Dox observes “It’s a bit of a ballady one,” an anthem that soars as the bird of prey does upon the uplifting thermals. Hook-laden and extreme in its emotions it’s loudly appreciated.
The underworldly hooves of the demonic herd spark across the expansive plains in their never-ending quest of an infernal passion within ‘Universal’ whilst the world comes crashing down with EP track ‘Man I Am.’
With phreatic explosive forces ‘Bulldozer’ does exactly what it says on that particular tin. The winds of change burn through the night as the Whist hounds descend from their craggy lairs as the supercharged 2019 debut single ‘In From The Cold’ breaks the restraining shackles.
The ramped Sabbath-fringes of the enlivening ‘Awakened’ completes the four tracks of ‘Ruin Within’ before Dox muses “Now what do you do when the band before ends on Zombie? We Walk!!” The Patriot gathering moves unified to the bad-ass groove of one of Pantera’s signature tracks. Respect indeed. Dimebag knowingly nods.
Photography by Kelly Spiller for MPM