Mason Hill at Rebellion: Live Review
On the day that England triumphed over Sweden to qualify for a place in the World Cup semi-finals, Scottish hard rockers Mason Hill made their headlining debut in Manchester, gracing the stage at Rebellion with support from The Crazy Peace Of Mind…
Words: Anne Estella | Photos: Anthony Firmin
The Crazy Peace Of Mind, an alt-rock trio from Nottingham, nearly didn’t make it to the show after their van broke down en route. But with sheer determination, the band, consisting of Manuel Pena on guitar and vocals, Simon Strong on bass and vocals and Luini Quezada on drums, made it in time to open up and brought their A-game.
They played a 45-minute set comprising songs from their debut album, One. Their nine-track setlist included songs such as Pebbles Around The Sun, The Time Machine and Pick Up My Gun And Run and they closed out with the appropriately titled The End. Their musical style was a unique amalgamation of influences, from punk and grunge, through to 70s and 80s-inspired rock.
The band’s powerful sound was underpinned by a very solid rhythm section courtesy of Strong and Quezada, whilst Pena’s distinctive vocal style came as a bit of a surprise, particularly in the higher registers. There was something about his appearance that resembled The Damned’s Captain Sensible (maybe it was the beret) and the big ‘punk n’ roll’ sound that the band generated was somewhat comparable to that of The Clash.
And so from ‘punk n’ roll’ to ‘choc n’ roll’… Fresh from their first ever appearance at TRNSMT Festival, Mason Hill, the quintet from Glasgow who were reported the day before as saying that they loved nothing more than a nice cup of hot chocolate at the end of the night, must have thought it best to quash the rumours without delay, promptly downing shots that were kindly offered to them during their set.
Singer Scott Taylor got up on stage, smiled broadly at the crowd and screamed “MANCHESTER!”, ensuring that we were all alert and ready for the aural adrenaline injection that was headed our way. For the next hour and a half, we were treated to a thrilling, high-octane sonic rollercoaster featuring as yet unknown songs from the band’s upcoming debut album as well as already released tracks.
Taylor proved himself to be a consummate frontman, brimming with confidence and exuberance plus a good dose of humour. He managed to put up with choruses of Three Lions (“It’s coming home, it’s coming home…”), teasingly fired at the band at regular intervals by members of the audience. There was no malice intended though, as was plain to see by the huge cheers and love the fans clearly had for them.
What was most striking about this band, even more than their extremely impressive musicianship, was the amazing chemistry they had between them. From the moment they tore into opener This Life I was utterly convinced that these boys had known each other all their lives and were best of friends. The fun they were evidently having together was infectious and they came across as some of the nicest, most down to earth and humblest boys you could ever hope to meet.
Matthew Ward is probably the most animated bassist I’ve ever seen and his facial expressions were priceless, fixing a big grin firmly to my face for the duration of the show. It was hard to take my eyes off him joyfully bouncing around the stage, although his bandmates were equally deserving of our attention.
Marc Montgomery sizzled on guitar with the demeanour of a young Slash and thanks to a raised platform at the back of the stage, Craig McFetridge on drums was clearly visible beaming whilst giving it everything he had… There’s something immensely satisfying about watching a drummer really letting loose!
For every high-energy, up-tempo song played, there was a slower-paced, softer one to tug at the heartstrings. The setlist included the anthemic, spirited Survive and a great cover of Mississippi Queen. After a mellow Who We Are the energy was resorted once again with the fast, heavy and loud Wait For You.
Taylor’s vocals were excellent and his warm personality really shone through, with great banter and friendly interaction with the crowd. Meanwhile, James Bird was cool, calm and collected on lead guitar and was responsible for some blinding solos (and even joined in the odd chorus of “It’s coming home…”). The palpable connection between he and Taylor came to the fore during their beautiful delivery of the new song Follow You, to which people enthusiastically responded “I’ll Follow You”!
The song that everybody had been looking forward to the most was Mason Hill’s well-known single, Now You See Me, and we weren’t disappointed. The band gave an incredible rendition of the popular track before taking things down for an emotional interpretation of Where I Belong, which is about heartbreak and has special meaning for both Taylor and Bird, who sang the opening together as a duet while the rest of the band respectfully left the stage. The genuine sentiment in the song brought tears to one fan, which is surely the biggest compliment possible.
Adding one last number to the substantial set, Taylor announced that they would like to pay tribute to the late Chris Cornell and decided to play a cover of Audioslave’s Cochise as their finale. This went down really well with the crowd, and the band, who’d been firing on all cylinders all night, ended on a real high and dripping in sweat.
They’re young and talented, they had great chemistry, they played exceptionally well together for ninety minutes and they knew how to finish… Never mind the football, tonight it was the Scots’ turn to put in a truly winning performance!
The Crazy Peace Of Mind