Rock City’s little sister venue plays host to the West Midland’s hottest new band, Stone Broken.
This smaller capacity venue has been sold out for weeks, but Storm Emma and the Beast from the East have collided over Nottingham giving the East Midlands some of the worst snow in recent years. Social Media (love it or hate it) has been going silly throughout the day with tales of fans being snowed in and unable to make the venue.
The good news is that the bands, tonight we are treated to three, The Bad Flowers, Jared James Nichols and headliners Stone Broken, have defied the Beast in arriving safely.
The venue is sadly not as full as the ticket sales would suggest which means there’s a little more room to spread out. It’s still a respectable gathering though so well done to those who challenged the elements, one guy travelled by bus from Macclesfield, that’s dedication (and determination) for you.
The Bad Flowers are up first. Having not seen them before I was interested in how this Midlands based three piece would come across, very well is the answer. The melodic guitar playing of Tom Leighton a perfect foil for his voice. Full of emotion this guy can certainly carry a tune. The opening track Hurricane has a certain familiar feel to it, somewhat reminiscent of 80’s rock band the Cult, no bad thing as I still think that they’re one of the best live bands I’ve seen to date. Playing tracks from their excellent debut album, ‘Shooting Gun’, this 3-piece entertained, the drums of Karl Selickis and the thundering basslines of monster bass man Dale Tonks give Leighton a great foundation to throw some sounds from his Les Paul. Back up with excellent vocals they complete an exciting if too short set finishing with ‘City Lights’ a tempo changing anthem much to fans delight.
Jared James Nichols is a favourite of mine, I’ll make no bones about it. After seeing this guy on various you tube video’s and then seeing him support the likes of Walter Trout and Blue Oyster Cult, and in the summer of last year, at the Steelhouse festival in Wales last year, he re-confirmed more than a passing resemblance to a young Ted Nugent by playing ‘Cat Scratch Fever’. I rate this finger picking blues man very highly. With a very simple set up of an Epiphone Custom Shop ‘Old Glory’ Black Les Paul, obviously a single overwound ‘Duncan P90 in the bridge position with D’Adarrio NYXL 10-52 gauge strings into a Blackstar Artist 30 combo amp. His massive pedal board in the past has consisted of just 3 pedals. L-R Seymour Duncan Killing Floor Boost. 1968 Fuzz Face and a tuner. This simple set up relies on Jared using the tone and volume controls to give his trade mark sound.
Playing an energetic set as Jared always does, he hits the stage in near darkness. This is typical Rescue Rooms lighting, heavily back lit with fog glowing magenta and blue with neon lighting. He starts the set with ‘Last Chance’ from his newly released album ‘Black Magic’. Featuring a heavy riff and heavy bass line played by the very animated bearded Gregg Cash, not Nichols usual Mr Bassman, Eric Sandin this time. His old friend Dennis Holm sits astride the thrown bashing the tubs, his hair flying through out. At one point doing a great impression of Cousin Itt from the Adams Family. This song breaks the ice and shows the assembled crowd what this young man is all about. Giving an insane demonstration of finger picking blues rock, Nichols is stage front, his face contorted as he fights to control ‘Old Glory’ who has taken on a life of its own. Felling every note Nichols slams through the strings, one minute screaming high’s the next Clapton’s woman tone sensually caressing our senses as those fingers maul the battered neck of the black Les Paul.
This all to short set consists of just six songs. Played in the usual intense, insane Nichols manner its over before its begun. A full 90 minute Nichols set would be just that ‘INSANE’.
The set features four songs off the new album, ‘Last Chance’, ‘Don’t be Scared’, ‘End of Time and ‘Run’. ‘Haywire’ being the only song to from his debut album ‘Old Glory and the Wild Revival’. I’d have loved Nichols to have played the Nugent classic again but it wasn’t to be, instead we were treated to Mississippi Queen, that classic by rockers Mountain, to finish the set off. A fitting end to a truly magic treat, at which point Nichols jumps off the stage into the very small press pit. Shaking hands with the fans he walks through the crowd to the merch stand. A legend in the making!
Stone Broken headlining their very own 17 date tour. Managing to make their way from Newcastle, they waste no time in getting down to business. Rich Moss assumes the position in front of the Mic, flanked by Chris Davis and Kieron Conroy, stood on risers and the girl with the view Robyn Haycock behind the kit they start into ‘Heartbreak Away’ from the new album’ Ain’t Always Easy’.
A lot of tonight’s gig will feature tracks off the new, yet to be released album. This will be an experience for the fans yet to hear the band’s latest offering.
Starting with a steady pulse it grows into a chugging heavy riff anthem, Moss’s vocals cutting through as Davis darts around the stage. A slightly newer darker sound to the band.
You’d be forgiven to likening it something Canadian Rockers Nickelback may release. No bad thing. Better brings the crowd back to familiar territory, a tune from their debut album ‘All in Time’ with its catchy riffing and Moss’s melodic vocal doing lots to get the crowd bouncing. ‘Stay all night’ is next and then ‘Just A Memory’, the second from the new album. A Heavy riffed intro leads us into a theme, again sounding great but familiar. The dual guitars riffing away either side of the vocals the fitting basic drum beat in the background set up the song as a solid fan favourite.
It’s obvious that the band enjoy what they do. Racing around the stage, playing to the crowd. Moss takes time to remember the occasion he was asked to help a fan propose to his now wife, brought on by seeing them in the crowd. He’s so glad they’re still together.
Playing a dynamic set drawn from both the albums we’re treated to 14 songs by this West Midlands five piece. There’s even time for Haycock, a slightly more subdued hair colour or is it RR’s lighting, to prove that she’s more than a pretty face sat on a drummer’s thrown. Her drum solo is reminiscent of something that was more common place in the last century. Brilliant, it’s also nice to see Animal securely strapped to her kit.
The Encore features just the two tracks, the Acoustic ‘Wait for You’ see’s Moss and guitar stood on stage singing this to the crowd on his own, the emotion obvious in his voice as in places it falters giving it a more potent meaning. The rest of the band join in and we have classic Stone Broken, a great song. The final song to the night is the rockier ‘Not Your Enemy’ this once again has the crowd jumping and the band respond to them as the heavy riffs kick in. This opening track from the first album is a firm fan favourite and closes an otherwise excellent night of rock in an emphatic way.
It’s obvious that this young band who make great use of Social Media are destined for great things. The slightly more American styled new songs and their lyrics will go down great with our colonial cousins, it’s right up their proverbial street so to speak.
The World ‘Ain’t Always Easy’ a class second album from this young, energetic band.
Words and photo’s: Manny Manson