Rain May Fall, eySaw, Silverchild & Dirty Rotten Souls @ Rebellion
It’s another typically bustling Saturday night in Manchester – City & Colour and Cage The Elephant pick of the bunch in terms of big name artists plying their trade across the city centre, not to mention Mohawk Radio at Club Academy. Despite all that, in a venue whose name has been named through supporting local acts, eySaw frontman Nicholas O’Brien, through one short sentence, delivered in his gruff Northern accent, strikes a chord within me: “You might not be the biggest crowd but you all really care about music.”
As I scan my eyes across the venue – one which is hardly sparsely populated tonight – his words permeate. Sure, you could argue that all the bands playing tonight would rather be at the sold out 02 Ritz or stood in front of an arena of screaming fans; who wouldn’t? But what they do get is an incredibly receptive crowd whose heart lies firmly in the underground scene, pledging their allegiance to four characterful bands which reward them with every ounce of their beings.
Filling in for Waking Sirenna on the recommendation of Silverchild vocalist Alex Hiley, Stoke-On-Trent’s Dirty Rotten Souls take a little while to shift through the gears, but by the final two songs their bouncy, Sabbath infested rock n’ roll is as captivating as it is bullish. Songs like Showdown take the trad-blues template in all its shuffling, swaggering glory, bathe it in filth and stick a size 12 pair of Dr Martins up its arse. It’s supremely danceable yet feral and edgy and by the end of the set it mutates into a deadly combination.
Time machine blues rock outfit Silverchild then follow suit. Fronted by the eye-catching Alex Hiley, a tall, commanding presence on the stage, they ooze through a classic hard rock sound that, for the next 30 minutes ago, make you forget the decades following the 70s ever happened. Every bugger and his dog seems to be raving about this band right now and it’s no surprise why, even if their sound does come across as a little tamer than I would have liked, the sound engineer seeming reluctant to turn things up to the required 11 that would make this a truly stonking set. Sticksman Al Burne, the engine behind their smooth-yet-raucous rock n’ roll creates the perfect punch while guitarist Vic Jepson, a stylistic hybrid between Page and Blackmore, simply bleeds licks, all their slight imperfections bolstering their effect.
With people floating about either at the bar, in the pisser or outside in the smoking area, eySaw’s decision to start off their set with clean cut guitars and a lucid, almost trickling drum beat seemed strange. Yet, as the crescendo built and the inevitable groove sledgehammer that is this band’s sound first cracked the ground, it all came together with a staggering impetus that had me watching on in complete awe. One of this city’s most uncompromisingly entertaining live acts – and competition is stiffer than an overdose of Viagra – O’Brien is simply imperious, channelling heartfelt blues through hellishly hollered growls, Gaz Manning an adrenalised animal on the kit. Above all else though, as Jamie Massie throws himself all over the stage, this is a band having the time of their lives, making sure they leave the stage with both themselves and the crowd all smiles, every last drop of energy sweated out in the name of stoner haunted doom metal. Soulful, scintillating, sumptuous.
It all left Liverpool’s Rain May Fall with something of a mountain to climb, but here is a well travelled band and they go about the task with bells on. I’ve seen these guys a few times now – including at the infamous, irking Two Tubs gig last year – but tonight they upped their game tenfold. The sound was crisper, crunchier and as showman they were far more invigorating – vocalist Mark Smith strolling through the crowd as his iron pipes belted out Alice in Chain’s Them Bones late on, making sure he wasn’t outshone on a night that belonged to the singers. The other band they cover, in a friendly sparring session with eySaw who played COC especially, they grab Corrosion of Conformity’s Albatross by the balls. It underlines the night’s warming sense of commradery. But this isn’t just about the crowd pleasing covers and their own songs, which sonically nestle betwixt those two bands, are rich in grinding riffs, heavier than an elephant after Christmas dinner and grungy refrains. It’s both comfortably familiar and daring in its sense of adventure and they round off a cracking night.
Words: Phil Weller | Photos: Phil Goddard
This show was hosted by Up From Under.