Manchester Rocks Website Launch
Kat Hitlon looks back on the Manchester Rocks website launch night - partly because Phil's memory of such is a little sketchy - which featured four stonking performances from local bands, raising a tidy £500 for The Christie in the process.
It had been a long time coming; five years after Manchester Rocks' inception, blood, sweat, tears and the odd tantrum went in to creating the new Manchester Rocks website. With a sassier URL, updated features and lots of twiddly button type things making it the definition of music pornography.
To celebrate said launch, and quite frankly to give us all a damn good reason to listen to some cracking bands and deplete the Rebellion bar of as much alcohol as (in)humanly possible a launch night was organised. MR spun into action to provide a metric fuck ton of entertainment, laughs and dance moves that would put Nuryev to shame.
First on the bill, baby band Prognosis, Editor Phil using and abusing his powers to make their gigging début happen. Now normal people would think that this would be a good thing, writer has to stay on the good side of the boss, no? Well lovely readers, I have no compunction in being totally and brutally honest.
Prognosis are Danny Gregory (Bass & Vocals), Phil Weller (Guitar & Vocals), Christian Hickson (Guitar) and, completing the line up, Phil's older brother Alex on the drums. A progressive metal band from Manchester, who have seemingly all been stuck in grow bags, the shortest being 6 foot, take to the stage as the opening act. The nerves were well hidden, the smooth playing and interaction growing as the set progressed. By their own admission due to being “lazy sods” there was just the one song with lyrics.
Changeling; the stand out song for me was perfectly placed, coming after settling their opening night nerves but not rounding the performance off instead capturing the fun and frivolity that they all had in the midst of their performance. Emotive, passive aggressive lyrics wrapped up in a riff heavy tune had the crowd bopping along in agreement despite being unheard of previously. Bitter tinged vocals sung well by lead vocalist Danny, supported by Phil, twinned perfectly with the sweet melodious background music provided by all. The one criticism I offered at the time and still stick to; about half way through the tempo slows down, I don’t think it should, it should remain on the quicker side to keep the flow going; it fits better.
The rest of the set being instrumental really let the musical talent shine through, it is hard to keep a crowd entertained without vocals, no matter who you are and how long you have been on the scene. There is some real talent with these guys, they had nowhere to hide, it was a bold move and it worked. Talented guitar work, smooth drum sections and impressive solo work make Prognosis a band to look out for, one that are certainly worth a trip to see. The five second blast of Gay Bar during Phil's solo demonstrated their unique sense of fun and energy.
After a brief interlude, The Hyena Kill are up next, in a change to the original plan due to vocalist and guitar player, Steven, being immensely poorly their set was shorter than originally planned and swapped with Federal Charm.
The Hyena Kill are an up and coming band, much loved by all at MR, hot off the back of their single launch and début music video and steadily on the rise to bigger and better things, we were privileged to have them on board to celebrate with us. The crowd was increasing as time went on, the drink flowing, vibe increasing, a small stage, with just 2 people on it they look lost to begin with. Are they going to be able to cut it?
Cut it? They designed the pattern, picked the material, chalked it up and sewed the damn thing.
The noise that just two people can make is astonishing, a relentless drum-driven sound is thrashed out by the incredibly talented Lorna Blundell, and their balls-to-the-wall sound you hear on their recorded stuff has been pumped full of steroids, red bull and E numbers and dragged onto the stage in all its glory.
Dirty assaults, left, right, middle, back and front from the one man guitar arsenal that is Steven Dobb, offers riff after riff that is both delectable and devastating in equal measure. With more than a hint of Tool, a liberal sprinkling of Deftones and a seasoning of Josh Homme, the end product is a thumping, throbbing wall of pure energy that defies the laws of nature. Not to compare but to make their own mark in the halls of Riffdom alongside behemoths of rock such as Rage Against The Machine and Queens Of The Stone Age.
I would be lying if I said I didn’t miss the vocals, the lack of them having a small impact. With little chatter and non-existent singing the talent that Steven has for ramping up the crowd and really engaging them was somewhat diminished. Did it ruin the set? No, not at all, the vibes thrown out into the crowd ensured that. It is with massive amounts of respect and thanks given to the duo for making an appearance when illness was evident on a cold and rainy Manchester evening. I shall hope to be seeing them, fully fit, in all their glory soon.
Whilst people file out for cigs, line up at the bar for drinks and mumble amongst themselves it is the turn of Federal Charm to set the stage, the more traditional rock and roll/blues band amongst the bunch. Federal Charm promise swaggering riffs, sleazy slide flourishes and raw vocals that encapsulates all that is Classic Rock.
Formed in 2013, their debit album was released in 2014 alongside touring, festivals and supporting acts such as Joanne Shaw Taylor and Manfred Mann as well as visiting Greece and Germany. 2015 promises to be even bigger, headlining festivals, touring extensively and producing album number 2 it is non-stop for these hard working lads and a wonder MR managed to get a hold of them.
Testament to the their genuine loveliness however they promised to support us by doing a set, increased said set time at short notice due to illness and all whilst flashing some rather lovely guitar porn and double denim action.
Right from the off the guys have nailed it, you can just tell, the vibe in the room is one of utter delight and pure enjoyment. Expectations for a slightly lighter, more blues driven set were blown out of the water, ramping up the action all the way to 11. They hit it hard, engaging the crowd from the off, mixing their original work with covers, each song was an out and out hit.
The longer set worked well here, the entertainment constant, never letting up for a second they just went, like energizer bunnies on acid and brilliantly talented ones at that. The longer set giving them the chance to offer original work as well as covering classics from Led Zeppelin (phenomenally done) and Golden Earring's Radar Love (played with an edge to avoid full on Stilton cheese quality and perfectly timed).
Nick Bowden (Vocals &Guitars), Paul Bowe (Guitars), L.D. Morawski (Bass) and Danny Rigg (Drums) embrace the palpable fug of fun surrounding the phenomenal four piece; a Goliath of classic rock tinged with earthy blues in the making. I am already looking out for their next gig.
And last but by no means least, Collibus are headed for the stage, again a much loved and respected local band, the common theme with all of our lovely contributors tonight.
Gemma Fox front the immensely wonderful menagerie and they play like they're ready to take the world by storm.
Truly, they are a force to be reckoned with. From winning a Discretionary Metal Award in 2013 and becoming the first ever heavy metal band to play a set in the House of Commons to having had their Dead Inside music video featured on Scuzz and releasing their debut album The False Awakening it is all going on for Collibus and we at MR could not be happier for them. Between this and their relentless gigging schedule we were honoured once more that they could come and support us.
An energetic, full on, head banging phenomena that got everyone moving, how could they not?! Gemma is enigmatic and engaging from start to finish smashed the vocals, the relentless drum beats and dirty riffs enhanced her melodious, gravel flecked vocals offering a firm foundation to work from whilst wrapping around your senses hypnotising you with groove tinged grunge.
It is clear they have an immense rapport as they owned every inch of the stage, engulfing the environment until all eyes were on them.
A small cock up with the sound at one point could have sent them into a spin. Instead it gave them the chance to prove their sense of fun and professionalism as they mike hopped until it was sorted. No ego, no attitude, just a giggle and onwards they marched without missing a beat.
Monstrous guitar solos, grooving rhythms all surrounded by vocals that repeatedly smack you in the face there is just no stopping them. They are a heady dose of full on red bloodied British heavy metal with a huge side of Fuck You attitude that makes them stand out from the crowd, they slap you round the ears and make you pay attention, more fool you if you don’t.
Recently I read something on social media asking if a female fronted rock band can stand as strong as well as a male fronted one. Well, any muppet who thinks female fronted bands are disadvantaged for any reason, from talent to enigma, look no further, I rest my case.
And that my lovely readers is all she wrote, an evening that had been so long in the making went so quickly, in a blur (and not alcohol induced as such) of laughing, ear blisteringly fantastic music and quite frankly epic dancing (MR crew included).
With all the profits going to The Christie and a brilliant time had by all, there is but a few things left to say.
A Zeppelin sized thank you to everyone involved, a massive horns up to every member of each band, buckets of respect to everyone who turned up to support MR and Christie and finally a pat on the back to Phil for getting it all together.
Words: Kat Hilton Photos: Phil Goddard, Cai Dixon, Frederick Apps & Michelle Adamson