Review – Demons of Ruby Mae at The O2 Academy 2, Friday 10th May 2019

Photo: Demons of Ruby Mae by Kevin Gaughan

with Midnight Wire and World Without Want

Reviewed by Trevor Locke.
This gig was organised by Scruff of the Neck.

I am at the O2 Academy again. It’s Friday night and I’m in the Scholar Bar. Waiting for a really exciting evening of music. Anticipating bands I know well but have not seen for some time. Various musicians greet me and thank me for coming. I see Kevin (photographer) and go over to talk to him about what we will be doing this evening. We decide to start by interviewing some of the artists who will be on stage, later on. I look round the room trying to spot the guys I need for the filming session.

After a bit of administrative shuffling around with security guards, I make my way backstage where it is quieter. Alex Van Roose, from Midnight Wire, and his colleague Callum, sit on the stairs while Kevin and I get ourselves sorted out. Sound levels and technical stuff. After a countdown, Kevin cues me in and I start asking questions (see the video interview at the end of this review).

Alex is a musician I have known for years. Many, many years. But that is also true for our next artist, Jonny Gavin.

After running around the Scholar looking for him, we finally get ready to talk to the lead singer of Demons of Ruby Mae. I’m feeling confident. No need to read questions off an autocue. My head is swimming with things I feel sure readers will want to know (see the video interview at the end of this review).

Having got that out of the way, I provide myself with a pint from the bar and sit down outside to prepare my reporter’s notebook. It’s what I always do. Not long after I settle down with my pen, the strains of music call me inside. The crowd is filling the area in front of the stage, so I elbow my way in, to get a better view.

The smoke machine is pouring out a fog that enhances the stage lighting but it makes it difficult for me to see what’s happening. Much more atmosphere; a little less detail. No matter, my ears give me most of what I need. I hear the unmistakable voice of Alex Van Roose. I know that voice. I have been listening to it for long enough. Ah! Those melodies, those catchy riffs, those memorable phrases of lyrics and backing sounds. Alex is in good spirits; a bundle of energy, he is so appealing on stage. A great entertainer. A first-class front man. I am thinking of things to say about him when I write my review. Should I mention the band’s first gig? The night they debuted at the now long-gone Sub91 venue. Maybe not. People find historical stuff boring.

The band finishes and the lights go down. I head outside and find a picnic table to sit at. Out comes my notebook and pen and I scribble away, determined to capture the ideas that came into my head while I was listening to the music.

A woman interrupts my work. She asks, “What band is that which just played?” I explain they are called Midnight Wire. I even add the name of the lead singer. “They were very good,” she says, “I definitely want to see them again.” We chat about the band and it turns out they also know Jonny Gavin. I feel pleased. I love feedback from audience members. Especially the ones I don’t know.

Midnight Wire Photo: Kevin Gaughan

Demons of Ruby Mae, I can see them setting up on stage. Not long now, I say to myself. I think about the times I saw them before. Years ago. When they did their first gig at the Concordia Theatre, in Hinckley. What a night was! I can see see it now, in my head. A packed out auditorium. Every seat sold. Jonny and his band on stage with a full set of production lights. High up on a pedestal, I can see Ruby Mae, herself. I scribble more notes.

A vision comes into my head. I am at the Donkey. Jonny is in front of me singing. Oh yes! I remember that night. One of the best musical experiences of that year, by a long way. Such an incredible voice, powerful, full of colour and ear-caressing sonority. More scribbling in my book. My reveries are interrupted by the sound of music coming from inside. I pack away my stuff and head into the hall, there they are, on stage, soaked in atmosphere. Drenching the audience with superb vocals and magical music.

The band starts to play Boy Who Cried Wolf. I know the song. One of the best songs I have heard from a local band. Dramatic, evocative, atmospheric. I write words in my book. Jonny’s voice is filling the whole room with superb sounds. Volcanic mouth, another song I remember from previous performances. I really love this; music I rate highly, I think to my myself, I need to go to town on this review. I scribble away, trying to catch thoughts as they fleet through my mind.

Demons of Ruby Mae Photo: Kevin Gaughan

I cannot miss a minute of it. Standing by the wall, out of the way of people, passing by with hands clutching pints of beer, I jot notes in my book. I’m listening intently, trying to find the words for what I am hearing. I see Adam Rowley at the keyboard. I hear two beautifully harmonised voices. So well blended they sound like one voice, Jonny and Adam, one of the most impressive musical collaborations on the local music scene.

I peer at my notebook, trying to see what the pen is doing, in the gloom of the Scholar Bar. Listening and thinking, at the same time. Song after song comes from the stage, stunning music, bewitching artistry, enthralling compositions.

‘This has been a wonderful night of great music,’ I think to myself, as I walk home.

Watch this video of me interviewing Midnight Wire and their performance of City Lights on the night:

Watch this video of me interviewing Jonny Gavin from Demons of Ruby Mae:

Yet more
Relive past experiences, like, Demons of Ruby Mae performing at the Concordia Theatre in 2012. 

See our review of Midnight Wire’s launch show in 2011. Includes links to YouTube videos.

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