Metal Punk Ska and Reggae

Going to gigs round 6

Wednesday 9th August 2017

Instalment 6

by Trevor Locke

In this issue: It was not all about indie; it was also about metal, punk, ska and reggae.

In the last instalment of this series I looked at indie rock music. That might have given the impression that indie was the only music people went to see in those days. Not so. Today we are going to look at the other genres – metal, punk, ska, reggae and some other types of music. We stay roughly in the same time zone – from 2006 to around 2011.

Metal bands I remember most. Let me start with one of my particular favourites: Black River Project. This was probably one of the first metal bands that I went to see and quickly became a huge fan. Their gigs were impressive for all sorts of reasons. It was a total experience. They had a following of fanatical metal heads.

Poster for a gig by Black River Project

Probably the most awesome death metal band in Leicester. These four guys turn out a fearsome volume of amazing sounds, with huge vocals from front man Paul McGlennon. Influences from Obituary, Bloodbath, Machine Head, The Haunted, and Iron Maiden – this is the darkest, most frightening band you will hear around here. Loud, hairy, head banging and not for the faint hearted.

A different style of metal altogether came from Leicester band Silent Resistance.

Silent Resistance, Saturday 2nd October, Sumo

Silent Resistance is also no stranger to these pages and they opened with a seriously exhilarating introduction that had all the fury and force of nu-metal, until lead vocalist Ryan Tailor began the flowing melodic line. Lots of head banging, hair shaking sounds and pounding drum beats were counterpoised with softer, melodic passages which lulled the audience before bursting into ear-bleeding screams. It was rock music on a Wagnerian scale.
Ryan pushes his vocal chords to the limit, his strong voice coping as well with the tunes as it did with the screams and shouts, whilst in the background the guitarists were weaving rich tapestries of complex instrumentation. Backing vocals from the bassist were added to emphasise and highlight the leading song line. We came to the song with the clappy bits, where the band members and those in the audience who know how it goes, add hand-made percussive punctuations to the fast, foot-stomping song.

Silent Resistance at the Soundhouse

They performed a song Demons that come for me from their forthcoming EP, due out in December. The slow, sombre, atmospheric intro features lots of distorted bass riffs and grinding guitar sounds until they build up the scale and velocity of the song, rising to a storming finale. On stage the five musicians are living the music in an act of musical theatre. No shoe-gaze band here, they throw themselves into the music, so that the crowd can see the music, as well as hear it. Powerful and electrifying. [Arts in Leicester magazine, 2010]

Ryan Tailor of Silent Resistance

Saturday 22nd August, Soundhouse.

Most bands come on stage and start playing. Ryan Tailor (lead vocalist) began by shouting “We are Silent Resistance – come forward” and yes it did work. Ryan is more than just a vocalist – he’s a performer and like all good performers, he needs a crowd. It was a set that worked magic; the room crackled with electricity. It’s not a set that requires false modesty; it’s a band that shouts from the roof-tops, a no-holds-barred performance. Off stage Ryan is a quiet, unassuming guy you wouldn’t notice if you passed him in the street. On stage with his band, he is every inch the rock star. But then there have been several major rock artists who have fitted that mould.
He and the band threw themselves into the songs and gave it everything they had got. It’s high-octane music that crashes into the room like a perfect storm. They also did that song with the clappy bits that their fans know exactly where to come in, but which I always get wrong so, I have given up trying.

Tight, thrilling music; hard rock that streaks across the room like lightening followed by thunder claps of sound. It’s dramatically big stuff from a band that thinks big, both about their music and themselves. They are nu-metal. Ryan Tailor is not a massively fat guy covered in tattoos with long greasy hair. There was and maybe still is a place for guys like that. [Arts in Leicester magazine, 2010]

The story of S|R

It began with drummer Danny and guitarist Jai making music together as teenagers and even did there first gig together as a two piece with no bass or vocals!  Eventually the need for fellow musicians to create a band saw them place a few ads on a ‘find a band’ style web site and after a while they snagged up guitarist Alex and bassist Slipper to begin writing music as a four piece under the name ‘Inspired by Lies’, while throughout the next few years between practices, auditioned several singers in the hopes of completing the line-up. Finally, in September 2009, vocalist Ryan Tailor was found on a ‘musicians wanted’ web site and was brought in to jam with the band. The group clicked instantly and Ryan was recruited to complete the line-up along with a name change to ‘Silent Resistance’. The band had their first gig in November 2009 at a Leicester University campus and received a great crowd response. That’s when they knew they were onto something special.

Cut to July 2010 and the band have achieved so much in such a short space of time including: supporting top UK metal act ‘Glamour of the Kill’, receiving radio airplay of their first demo around the country on several stations, being a front page story on BBC Leicester web site and most recently, playing their first festival at Glastonbudget 10. However, S|R are most proud of the positive feedback we get from people after a show, and always seem to gain new fans each time they play! Belter!

Watch this video of Silent Resistance performing in 2011.

22nd August, Soundhouse

Tonight’s gig is such a case. Three bands that were all good at what they do. First on stage was Edict of Bedlam, a local ambient, progressive metal band and lead vocalist Sheep Coltman did a top job of growling, roaring and screaming into the mic. This type of metal may be an acquired taste, just as not everyone likes curries, and this guy can also sing well too (in the more melodic bits.) The instruments were beautifully blended together and Richard Lane’s drumming fitting well into the overall sound, rather than drowning out the guitars as can happening with some bands. The sound quality tonight was brilliant. This band has a finely tuned sense of drama, spinning out songs that had dark and tingling ideas. Huge sounds and some ear-bleeding screams conjured up spine-chilling images and atmospherics. It was well executed because it didn’t give you ear-ache; the band and the sound engineer delivered an experience that was of Wagnerian proportions but not deafening. I didn’t need to put my ear plugs in because it was about quality not quantity. They pumped out massive, muscular waves of sound laced with intricate guitar flourishes. The guitarists displayed some spell binding techniques and the six string bassist – Aaron Harbour – came in for some effusive plaudits from other musicians after the set. Someone said they were like Alaskan band 36CrazyFists, so I looked them up on Myspace All the bands members like SiKTH.

Metal nights are a man thing and the floor filled up with blokes. Yes there were some females in the venue and yes there are some who are fanatical metal heads. The guys listened attentively, motionless, like concert-goers. A room full of sweaty metallers does not however smell anything like the audience at a Hayden string quartet concert. [Arts in Leicester magazine, 2010]

Bands from out of town

Several metal bands came to play in Leicester; many of them came back – several times to pick up on the very positive reaction they got from our local fans.

31st October 2009

The show was launched to a flying start by Milton Keynes hard rock band, Primal Device. Four great entertainers, these guys are at the top of my list for great bands; they tick all the boxes for me. They exploded into their first song, an iconic sounding ballad, bursting with magnificent guitar riffs and stunning vocal lines from guitar/vocalists Nick and Joe, it was a massive piece of nu-rock. Laden with strong rhythms, memorable vocal lines and punchy drum beats, this is top notch music that really stands out. Not all bands can create that special magic that makes you tingle with excitement but this is a band that reminds you what you got into rock music for. They set provides the thrills of hard rock blended skilfully with the technical wizardry of classic and huge sweeping statements of metal. Amazingly they have cleverly woven together a sumptuous sheet of richly coloured, spangled music that unfurled into the large hall and could easily fill a large arena. This is a strongly performance band, as good to watch as they are to listen to. Even without a large crowd, they can still create a sense of excitement that gets your adrenalin going. Sheer delight for 45 minutes. They kept it fresh; they kept it moving, with razor sharp stops punctuating huge wedges of dazzling music, they can suddenly drop into quiet, tender passages, before exploding back into great, sweeping volumes of sound. Truly symphonic and as Romantic as Brahms or Bruckner.
There isn’t a band in Leicester who can touch them.

Resin

Resin in concert at the Riverside Festival in 2012.

I don’t envy a band that have to follow the previous, however Resin were not phased, starting with a solid, rocky drive that immediately showed their musical talent, both in writing and performing. I took to the singer straight away, a powerful vocalist with a pure rock sound. Their own compositions had the pleasing tones of late 90s/early noughtys bands such as Staind. Although maybe lacking slightly in stage presence, instrumentally Resin have some real talent; a brilliant drummer and a really good solidly bass player (with a very impressive beard!) created the foundations for the guitarists to let loose. Both players use their guitars very well, especially lead guitarist Mark Roseby … wow! What a guitarist! Resin finished their set with a rendition of Alive by Pearl Jam, and my word they nailed it, totally made by Mark’s incredible solo. [Arts in Leicester magazine, 2012]

Resin, 2011

Punk

Tuesday 17th August

The Damned open Sub91. Legendary psychedelic punk band the Damned launched Leicester new live music venue Sub91. Artsin was there to enjoy the fun. A full house marked the opening of Leicester’s new live music venue, Sub91. What better way to launch a new venue and be sure to fill its maiden voyage with a capacity crowd, than putting on one of the country’s top bands. Their music was exhilarating and they were great fun on stage. Formed in 1976, they are credited with being the first punk rock band to release a single, an album and to get a place in the charts. On stage were Dave Vanian, the one original member of the band, Captain Sensible on the guitar and drummer Rat Scabies… After what seemed like a long age, the five members of the Damned arrived on stage, to enthusiastic cheering from the crowd. The room has filled up and the crowd has moved down to the front. This was a definite gathering of the fans, with people coming in from all over the country (if not, Europe). A load of camera phones go up in the air. Captain Sensible was wearing a fetching sailor’s outfit with a trade mark red beret. The first song gets the crowd moving and they keep moving for the hour and a half set. Towards the end a mosh pit starts up and some really big bouncers are watching them intently.

Huge volumes of energy pour off the stage like a tsunami of sound. The fans jump up and down and everyone is having a hugely great time. The songs are more melodic rock than old school punk but the crowd love it. Big thumping tunes and massive beats from Rat Scabies on the skins and Monty Oxy Moron putting in some cool work from the twin keyboards. The Damned are a charismatic band. Often associated with the Clash and the Sex Pistols, they have been a seminal influence on British punk for the past thirty years. Music aficionados rave about them. They put on a great show and are a lot of fun on stage. [Arts in Leicester magazine, 2010]

First Wave

Saturday 7th November 2009

The Shed put on a night of old school punk. Veteran punkers First Wave put on a rippingly good set. The night was topped off by The Vibrators who gave us a fabulous performance. Though not well attended it was a night of good music and a chance to get back to the roots of punk and good old fashioned rock n roll. Beltin’.

first wave performing at the soundhouse pub in leicester during the oxjam music fest 2011

Oxjam, 2010

Punk legends First Wave took to the stage at The Looking Glass to deliver of set of their hard edged songs. The trio’s electrifying set was a first class celebration of punk, fast, furious and exhilarating. Their songs were laced with scintillating guitar riffs and it was good to see this really great band keeping the spirit of punk alive.

21st April 2011

Common Side Effects

Common Side Effects, 2011

Common Side Effects, a young four piece punk band from Leicester who look great on the stage complete with mini Mohican type hairdos, oodles of energy, good growling vocals and plenty of bad attitude from the front man, Will. Common Side Effects played some great punk covers, including the classic ‘Hey Ho Let’s Go’ by the Ramones which really got the crowd going. Proper punk from a young band who punched well above their ages – loved ’em and I’ll be seeing them again. [Kevin Gaughan, Arts in Leicester, 2011]

Another punk band that I liked was Ghandi’s Flip Flop. Five piece punk band playing original songs in their own style. Formed in 2004 with Tweet on vocals and Abbo on bass and backing vocals, the line up now includes Coxy on guitar 1 and Savage on guitar 2 and with a new arrival on drums – Smigy. They are taking their high energy sound and show on the road.

Reggae and Ska

Metal and punk were always popular but the sounds people really went crazy for were reggae and ska. One band stands out: M48, later By The Rivers. M48 won the OBS in 2008.

Jordan and Nile of By The Rivers

This four piece indie band have been playing in Leicester for 2 years, during this time they have acquired a loyal and devoted fan base. They were the overall winners of the Original Bands showcase, which led them to play at the Summer Sundae Festival. They supported the Displacements at their homecoming gig. … The only band I have heard that open their set with acapello vocals sung by three members of the band in close and well matched harmony. That is just one of the features of a band that plays quality music. Good vocalists backed by tight punchy rhythms and strong intense beats, their songs have wide appeal. It’s very enjoyable music. A set of songs that puts them out in front. M48’s songs stand out – it’s the way the whole thing blends together and the distinctive tone of the singers. They just pour out totally enjoyable music. This is one of Leicester’s strongest bands: from a city that is richer in talented bands than most. To those who say that Leicester has a lot of crap bands I say this: spend a day listening to bands from the rest of the UK!! You’ll know what I mean. I agree with the Displacements when they commented: “The scene in Leicester is picking up a buzz right now, but it just doesn’t get the recognition it deserves from the industry types “.

Three well matched voices that blend together in a finely crafted harmony, M48 know how to write a good song. It’s the strength of their vocal talent combined with the energy of their rhythms and the compelling melodies worked into well structured songs that puts M48 at the top of the tree. [Arts in Leicester magazine, 2008]

By the Rivers – the full band – in 2011

Summer Sundae 2011

The Musician marquee was bulging at the seams when Leicester reggae band By the Rivers took to the stage. With Jordan Birtles, ex M48 band, behind them, this group has rocketed to success this year and will soon be going on tour with a very famous UK act. By The Rivers was Artsin’s Band of the Month in November 2011. By The Rivers formed in the Spring of 2010 by Leicester friends since birth, Nile Barrow (21) and Jordan Birtles (18). Inspired by many genres of music, these two talented youngsters write songs with social comment, positive messages as well as love songs and all things that affect the youth of today. They played their first gig on 15th May 2010 at The Donkey, Leicester. Jordan Birtles was the lead singer in M48, a highly popular Leicester band. M48 won the OBS (Original Bands showcase) in 2008, a prestigious local programme of shows for bands. With songs which will catch all your positive emotions and make you want to dance and sing, By The Rivers are a six piece reggae band, a style for which they each have an obvious passion. This is roots reggae for a new generation. Live they play as a six piece group which sees Nile on lead vocals and guitar, Jordan on drums and vocals plus two brass players, bass and keyboard/guitar/backing vocalist. They also perform as a duo with two vocals, an acoustic guitar and a melodica, stripping their songs down to the core. May 2010 saw their first full band gig in Leicester and the response was amazing. They played and sounded like they had been playing for years, rather and like the five rehearsals they had actually had. A sign of good musicianship.

Word spread around Leicester like a bush fire. This band was hot! Their second gig was at the prestigious Summer Sundae Weekender festival in Leicester where they packed out the Musician Stage and were said to be one of the highlights of the whole festival (see the link below under the Live section for our review.)
Seven gigs in and they have supported Neville Staple of the Specials, The Beat, Toploader, Dawn Kinnard , and Fun Lovin’ Criminals, (on two of their September 2010 tour gigs at Norwich UEA and Cambridge The Junction).

Smokin’ The Profit

2011.
Time to move on to the Sound House to see Smokin The Profit. This well established Leicester band has a set of very listenable songs that provide a delightful mix of funky rhythms with effortlessly clever playing and the vibrant vocals of lead singer Tommy Bee.

Smokin’ The profit, 2012

When I arrived, the band members were waiting to start the show, chatting to their fans and generally getting in the mood for a night of top class music. Smokin have always been a stylish band. Lead singer Tommy Bee now sports a luxuriant head of shoulder length hair and has abandoned the hall mark hat that he used to wear on stage. The band’s set of songs went down well with the crowd of fans who gathered in front of the stage to applaud their engaging, foot tapping songs.

Andy of Smokin’ The Profit, 2011

Record Reviews, 2011

I listened to Keepin’ it tight/Rhythmic fight with considerable anticipation and enjoyment. Having followed this band for some years now, they are, in my opinion, one of the most musically talented bands in Leicester. Their live shows are always totally enjoyable. Originally a funky, punky band with a bit of a ska edge, their sound has moved on as they have grown and developed. This EP represents the summit of their achievement so far. The five tracks on this record are top quality pieces of song writing and performance. Their music is vibrant and enthralling, dripping with superbly executed instrumentals and led by the edgy vocals of Tommy Bee. On stage they are have a magic presence; on CD they are no less exciting. The vocal lines are scorching and the guitar parts from Hilary Fox and bass riffs from Andy Morgan encrust the music with rich gems of sound. Behind the strings you can hear Sam Winterton’s drumming, tautly integrated with the overall sound but still effervescent and sparkling. Track four ‘You can’t catch me cus I quit‘ is one of my personal favourites of all the hundreds of songs I have from our local bands. I can listen to it over and over without loosing my passion for its funky, jaunty melodies. This is a band that oozes style and panache. They have a natural instinct for cool and funk. Their music now brings in a sharper edge to the feel and mood. A decidedly winning EP from one of Leicester’s great bands.

Last Edition

23rd January 2010, The Shed.

I loved the big brassy sounds and infectious rhythms that back Matt, lead singer, of Last Edition. A band with an energetic stage presence, they brought the music alive and pulled the crowd into the action. Ska used to be popular in Leicester, reaching its hey day during the era of Freefall Felix, when there where large audiences for it and a lot of skanking down at the front. Although there are still a small number of excellent ska bands around, this particular genre has waned, particularly as the popularity of indie pop has increased. Not that we hear traditional ska; these bands borrow the catchy rhythms from ska without tributing it and aficionados of the style would not be too impressed. But Last Edition’s stuff is nevertheless enjoyable, being full of dynamic beats and breaks and the whole band looked like they were have a really great time on the stage. Enjoyable and well presented, their set kept the night moving. LE will be launching their new EP on 26th February 2010.

Next time: The rise of the festivals. We will look at some of the festivals that shaped the music scene.

See also:

The introduction to the series Going to gigs

Round 5: the golden age of indie

Music for the month of August