Mammothfest 2018, Battle of the Bands in Northampton...
Words and Photos: Anthony Firmin
This review could easily be described as a Prognosis PR exercise, and that wouldn’t be unreasonable, but as ManchesterRocks helped with the logistics of the boys in black performing at The Lab in Northampton as part of the Battle of the Bands competition to play at Mammothfest 2018 we thought we would say a word or two about the day...
Arriving at the venue at 5pm we were all surprised looking at the place, it seemed more like a nursery come restaurant in someone’s living room than a gig venue. However, the PA seemed to be top notch as the dulcet tones of Phil Lynott and Thin Lizzy were impressive as it blasted out the Boys Are Back In Town; that could have been biographical except none of us had previously been to Northampton!
Food had already stopped being served although the smells were making us hungry, fortunately across the road was one of the best and cheapest curry houses – Northampton you know how to look after us Manc’s!
Returning to a transformed venue it was show time and Prognosis were up first blasting straight into Drones and winning the crowd over from the start. The band became an involuntary three piece for several songs due to equipment failure but it didn’t phase the band as guitarist Phil Weller managed to handle more solos than usual. Returning to a four piece they totally and completely smashed it with Void and Echoes getting a well deserved raucous reception.
The only relatively local band playing at this BotB gig is Acolytes from Rushden and considering they live so close they still manage to fail to bring all the gear they need for a gig and end up borrowing stuff from other bands including a guitar strap. Describing themselves as “kinda hardcore punk” and they are… kinda, but they are really playing two genres oscillating between punk in one song and an edgy indie sound in another. The punk side see’s the singer going mental, screaming whilst running around the room and then sitting down like a lost soul on one of the bar stools trying to be cool and failing; frankly this was just a mess. However, the indie style songs were much better, concise and performed with aplomb and an intense energy, eagerly lapped up by the rent-a-crowd they brought with them. Sadly neither the band nor their fans hung around the venue after their set, not good practice guys.
The third band, Sail, travelled the furthest for this show coming all the way from Taunton. Their guitarist and singer, Charlie Dowzell, is wearing some serious flared jeans to match the bands sludge and doom space rock with added stoner, very much a cross between Hawkwind and Black Sabbath to my ears. It could be argued that there is too much sludge and doom these days, many bands sounding the same. But with plenty of interplay happening between the band, along with some big vocals, Sail have managed to avoid falling into that trap and have a fairly distinctive sound.
One member of our party describes Mercury Rising as cock rock in a semi derisory way. Possibly a valid description considering they are proudly displaying their 80’s power pop/rock influences, but for me there was much to be impressed by from this Essex based band. They have great catchy songs, some excellent harmonies, clear singing from Max Campbell and a tight sound albeit highly reminiscent of Mötley Crüe at times. Having survived the excesses of the 80’s, for me this band are more than just a happy trip down memory lane.
The event organisers made everyone, barring Acolytes who had buggered off, wait for the result. Prognosis won the audience vote and Mercury Rising bagged the judges vote so it is back to Northampton on the 10th March for the semi-final… mini-bus anyone?