Planet Rock Roadstars - Live Review: Rebellion, Manchester
Words: Dan Thornton | Photos: Anthony Firmin
Over the last few days from nowhere it’s suddenly gotten cold, the nights are drawing in and in typical Manchester fashion everybody is miserable and staying in but fear not, your intrepid Manchester Rocks music aficionados have braved the cold wet weather to dish the dirt on the "Planet Rock Roadstars" Manchester date at Rebellion.
With incendiary local band Gorilla Riot headlining tonights show with support from Piston (they have just announced they are supporting The Cult) and Hannah Wicklund And The Stepping Stones, all the way from Los Angeles and who's music was recently described by none less than Joe Bonamassa as "a kaleidoscope of blazing guitars and searing vocals" - this promises to be an evening to remember.
Hannah Wicklund And The Stepping Stones
Starting the evening like clockwork Hannah Wicklund And The Stepping Stones take to the stage and we are treated to a frenzy of psychedelic blues rock guitar feedback which morphs exquisitely into their opening number.
I am struck by how much energy Hannah Wicklund herself puts out, she has an incredibly soulful voice and is a hell of a guitar player who's six string antics pair perfectly with her emotionally delivered vocals. I am also blown away by how good the compositions are. This is a band who know dynamics and understand the fine art of writing a great song.
We are then treated to an impassioned version of the Neil Young Classic Ohio which is a great case study of Wicklunds guitar playing, she nailed Young's off the cuff rhythm playing while also letting her technically proficient emotive lead playing take centre stage when the song provided the necessary space.
Her soulful almost Amy Winehouse-esque vocals shone through particularly prominently on her solo piece Shadowboxes And Porcelain Faces which added a welcome slower moment. I was left really blown away by them and personally they were the highlight of the night for me.
After a brief changeover Piston exploded onto the stage and were a spinning mass of energy from start to finish. There's is a star which is rising fast with their debut album Blow It Away gaining them a support slot on The Cult’s next UK Tour.
The interplay between vocalist Rob Angelico and guitarist Jack Edwards was particularly enjoyable to watch, the two guys obviously feed of each other's performances. They have a very "Toxic Twins" type vibe to them.
They managed to maintain their energy throughout the set with the single Rainmaker going down particularly well and the crowd absolutely loving their swagger laden approach to the Guns n Roses meets Aerosmith sound. Admittedly I could have done without the drum solo but it wasn't bad, I would have just preferred another song instead.
As 10pm rolls around the crowd is eagerly awaiting tonight's headliners, the mighty Gorilla Riot, to take to the stage. This is a friendly audience being a home town show and they are all smiles as they tune up.
Now I am well aware of these guys but this is my first time catching them and I wasn't disappointed. There is a strong ZZ Top influence running through their sound but it never sounds like they are copying the bearded masters from Texas, more just paying homage. They have managed to carve out their own sonic identity and it is filled with greasy guitar passages, dirty vocal lines and foot stomping rhythms, what more could you want?
They are original in their delivery and a real joy to watch with Arjun Bhishma's voice having that gritty smoky rasp which complemented the bluesy guitars of Liam Henry and Charly T perfectly. Praise too for James Degnen and Will Lewis for their stellar rhythm work during the set.
Standout songs would be new single Bad Son but to be honest it was all great, check these guys out if they play near you as you will not be disappointed!