RavenEye, Reigning Days & Voodoo Blood @ Rebellion
Tonight, Manchester Rocks put its money where its mouth is. When I first heard RavenEye, a more raucous outlet for the much revered bluesman Oli Brown, I was completely convinced of their ability to knock out a hard hitting blues rock tune. When the opportunity arose to host the Manchester leg of their current UK tour, we snatched at it like a fat kid upon free cake.
The thing is, there was a definite risk factor to it. Yes, they made a great impression on people supporting Blues Pills last year, yes they have a very impressive EP to their name and have recently toured overseas with Slash and Deep Purple. Yet, they are by no means a known name as of yet. But we love what we do and Manchester Rocks is founded upon putting faith in and championing smaller acts. To see a busy Rebellion buzzing, smiling, singing and enjoying all three acts the way they did then, was incredible.
“What a fucking voice,” shouted an enthusiastic punter shortly after Voodoo Blood had left the stage. Delivering their set with an unignorably stark gravity, fuzzy, crackling tones and deep bass grooves punctuating a feisty performance that had fluctuated strategically between heaviness, soulful slide guitar and more, this was the perfect introduction to a band that can go far. They oozed confidence in their performance, frontwoman Kimberly Jennett prowling the stage with an intent and purpose that sucked you into their aura. Their slickness, both attacking and caressing your senses in equal measure throughout, did us Northerners damn proud on a bill otherwise populated by Southerners.
Reigning Days are a band earning all the plaudits from places like Kerrang! at the moment and with some startling big, stomping riffs in their repertoire it’s no surprise. Forthcoming single Renegade is sizzling with energy and heart. It’s moments like this, where their sound grows hairs and becomes gigantean, that really gets the blood pumping, but following on from Voodoo Blood’s high octane performance, their softer moments numbed their effect at points. Perhaps it’s unfair to say, with Jennet appearing as if she were born to command crowds from stages, but they don’t quite grab you by the balls the same – but let that not take away from the moments of real class they smash out across their set.
The major talking point to come from RavenEye’s first Mancunain headline show, I thought to myself as Oli Brown wrung out scintillating bends while straddling bassist Aaron Spiers’ shoulders in the middle of the crowd, is just how entertaining they are. I know this is their crowd, the two girls singing and dancing ecstatically at the front of the stage accentuate that – there dates hilariously not so keen – but they still controlled the room with an effortless aplomb.
For a band so young they have a nimiety of varied songs to pluck from and so their set remains fresh and vitalised throughout. Run Away is a bouncy and heartfelt number centred around a gorgeous vocal refrain while Breaking Out is a testosterone rocker that borders on the anthemic. But all that, for me, pales in the shadow of the track – what it’s called I have no clue – where Oli ditched his guitar and sang over Aaron’s distorted, growling bass and Kev Hickman’s Bonham channelling drum work. There I was witnessing a band with intelligence, who knew how to spice things up and keep their audience on their toes. Already working on new material – much of which they treated us to tonight – watching where they go from here is damnably exciting.
Words: Phil Weller | Photography: Anthony Firmin