Review by Gary Spiller for MPM
Off the back of a hugely successful support slot touring across the UK with Stone Broken Llanelli lads Scarlet Rebels are back in their native Wales for what is billed as ‘their largest headline show yet.
It’s just over twelve months since ‘See Through Blue’ exceeded the wildest of expectations and gate-crashed into the UK Official Album Charts and the Rebels have taken some time out from the initial stages of writing and recording for the much anticipated follow up. There are tangible indications of the progress that has been made and the trajectory of ascent that beckons for this most industrious of outfits.
From being special guests to Phil Campbell and his Bastard Sons at Love Rocks via an absolutely special slot at Steelhouse to touring with Fozzy 2022 bore witness to the Rebels having been ‘found’ by a loyal, faithful crowd they can unequivocally call their own. The venues are increasing in size and this evening they headline Swansea’s Patti Pavilion for the very first time.
Strolling through the leafy Victoria Park the grade II list Pavilion is a striking presence just a stone’s throw from the sands of Swansea Bay. Named after the renown 19th century Italian opera soprano Adelina Patti the Pavilion is a striking presence with its green roof. Originally sited in her winter garden at Craig-y-Nos estate Patti, most generously in 1918, donated the structure to the City of Swansea, just a few months prior to her passing aged 76, with the building being relocated piece by piece to its current location.
It’s a fine setting and on this sunny spring evening it’s The Rock Project’s Cardiff and Bridgend school who kick things off. With head offices in Denbigh, North Wales The Rock Project is a nationwide school offering musical tuition for children aged 7-18 years old.
In front of an already filling hall the band, numbering seven in the ranks, steps forward and lets fly with The Beatles’ ‘Helter Skelter.’ Their slight nerves can be excused and by the end of the opening track they’re all smiles, clearly enjoying the moment and the positivity deservedly received from the Patti crowd.
There’s much potential in terms of talent onstage and the powerful dual vocals of the two young ladies (apologies I didn’t get any of your names) come to the fore in Ozzy’s ‘Crazy Train’ as does the six-stringing in twin lead form. A haunting ‘Hysteria’ (Muse) is followed up by an angst-ridden reconstruction of Nirvana’s ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit.’ Aptly there’s plenty of teen spirit here as the band go a long way in matching the original energies.
It’s great to see how bright the future of rock is here in South Wales, remember these youngsters are the next generation of aspiring Rebels or Crows. Wrapping up their half hour slot with My Chemical Romance’s ‘Famous Last Words’ and the searing anthemic ‘Walk’ (Foo Fighters) featuring some magical harmonies it’s left to franchisee Ben Tiffin, the Rock Projects very own Dewey Finn, to offer his and the students’ gratitude to both the audience and Scarlet Rebels.
With a confident roar of guitar and bass locking horns Matt Mitchell and The Coldhearts are heralded afront the Patti audience. With vocalist Matt Mitchell pointing his mic to the skies opening track ‘Razor Tongue’ raspingly detonates. There’s fleeting touches of Bruce Dickinson and Myles Kennedy in Matt’s vocal despatch which goes down well with the rock n’ roll congregation. Ultimately however it’s apparent that this engaging frontman desires to be known as the first Matt Mitchell not any carbon-copy.
The highway rocking of the carefree ‘Home’ has a dash of Deep Purple within its structure with guitarist Chris Webb delivering a hardened riff-concentrated output to rival the heaviest of heavyweights. The title track off last year’s ‘Mission’ – incidentally released on the Earache label alongside the Rebels – bleeds raw emotion with helter-skeltering guitar complementing the Myles Kennedy-inflicted vocals so effectively.
The hard accelerating ‘Just Like I Knew You Would’ couples well with fellow album-mate ‘Don’t You Think It’s Time.’ The latter heartfeltly introduced by Matt, “[There was] Whole bunch of heart on sleeve tracks we wrote and could have been on it (‘Mission’) this one had to be.” With its gentle emotions lapping serenely on the shoreline it’s most transparent as to why it was a no-brainer for inclusion. Ascending into southern rock realms it’s well received.
Attentions are redirected towards 2019’s self-titled debut long-player to wrap up a pin-sharp set. Buzzsaw rocker ‘Wave Goodbye’ and ‘Black Diamonds’ with its raucously frayed Eagle six-stringing weaving in and out of a Led Zeppelin fabric set the bar high.
Every time we see Dan Byrne live there’s a perceptible growth in the inner strength that this indefatigable Liverpudlian possesses. Having worked at length with the mentoring presence of former Skin and Jagged Edge guitarist Myke Gray the former Revival Black vocalist took flight for some solo shows earlier this year and now returns for a full-blooded full-band experience.
Encouraging the crowd forwards “This is a rock n’ roll show! C’mon down the front!” Dan Byrne surges forth on a confident wave. The band around him slickly storming the fortress walls with a force reminiscent of classic Marsden / Moody era Whitesnake melded with a healthy dosage of Thunder. Winched in from the last Revival Black album ‘Under The Lights’ the lively ‘Take You Out’ lays bare the intentions.
Track end Dan punches the air in clear joy enquiring of the ensemble “How the fuck we doing?” They’ve delivered with an efficiency Amazon would be justifiably envious of; guitarists Louis Malagodi and Glenn Quinn are tightknit whilst the rhythm pairing of bassist Saul Watson and drummer Chris Allan produce a fearsome foundation. Incredibly this is just their second show as an entirety; their cohesiveness belies this.
Brand new solo material in the oh-so promising form of teeth fully bared ‘Like Animals’ and the raging power of ‘Death Of Me’ lead into the soaring singalong of ‘Control’.
“I wanna play something that means a lot to me” Dan exclaims as he grabs his trusty acoustic guitar. Written about the challenges of long-distance relationships ‘Hemispheres’, judging by the crowd’s reaction, means one heck of a lot to all gathered here this evening. As strong as the eagle’s flight the track rises above the mountain peak with effortless passion. A thumping version of ‘Wide Awake’ is rapturously received as the allotted half hour reaches a kaleidoscopic finale. Dan’s Steelhouse appearance this summer is a sure-fire moment not to be missed.
Receiving a welcome normally reserved for homecoming heroes Llanelli’s finest Scarlet Rebels set about structural damage. With a triumphant roar, akin to Leonidas I leading his Spartan forces into battle, of ‘Yeah!’ frontman Wayne Doyle strides forwards. Guitarist Chris ‘CJ’ Jones, raising his plectrum aloft, whittles the intro of rampaging set-opener ‘No One Else To Blame.’ Wayne’s brother Gary is a blur of powerage behind his kit partnering the ever-assured presence of bassist Pablo Price.
Ploughing straight into ‘Storm’ the quartet raise their head of steam before seamlessly segueing into ‘You Take My Breath Away.’ The crowd are on-point singing the chorus as Chris whirls about in trademark fashion. The Rebels are taking it in their indomitable stride, it’s a step up for sure but the level of connectivity doesn’t diminish. Wayne looks a little taken back at the response to his enquiring “How we doing Swansea?” before furthering “It’s absolutely beautiful to see so many people come out and support us and the other bands. Uncle Al has spoilt you!” Referencing their tour manager and tonight’s promoter Aled Lewis.
The Rebels are keen to mix it up and make the evening special. There’s rare, but most welcome, outings for the likes of the rough-handed rocking of ‘Take It’ along with the motoring ‘Can I Open My Eyes’ and heartfelt strains of ‘Leave A Light On.’ Wayne introduces the latter “This goes out to that someone who cares enough to leave a light on so I can find my way back home. This goes out to friends and family.
Engaging warp-drive ‘Let Your Love Go’ surges in contrast to the affecting ‘I Can Sleep Now.’ Wayne partnered most ably by Chris bring in the gentle intro before being re-joined by Pricey and Gary to elevate the tempo to its fullness. The highly charged ‘Part Of Me’ leads to ‘These Days’ politically infused sentiments screeching off the line. Former PM Boris Johnson still gets a mention, forever a ‘See Through Blue’ seemingly.
The Patti Pavilion bounces and sings along vivaciously to the vibrant ‘I’m Alive’ which leads into a snippet of Bon Jovi’s signature track ‘Livin’ On A Prayer’ that goes down the proverbial storm. Gary lays down a heavy pounding beat in ‘Take You Home’ as Wayne emotes “We’re the Rebels on our way.” Hands are raised right on cue rallied by an appreciative Pricey.
It wouldn’t be a Rebels show without an invite to Rebel Club – membership open to new applicants as always – as the rules are explained during crowd-favourite ‘Save Me.’ Veering off on a mouth-watering tangent into the appropriately entitled AC/DC classic ‘It’s a Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock ‘n’ Roll).’ Rock n’ roll party mode engaged; top gear applied.
The roaring anthem, recorded as V0id, ‘Let Me In’ takes no prisoners as Gary continues to attempt to pulverise his kit through the riser with Chris taking his Les Paul into another dimension.
The most perfect of set-closers ‘Heal’ ensures a rapturous homecoming is completed in fine fettle, not a dry eye in the house. It’s been an emotional night for sure.
Photography by Kelly Spiller for MPM