Stone Broken break Club Academy...
Supporting Stone Broken on their Ain’t Always Easy tour, Cannock-based three-piece The Bad Flowers exploded onto the stage at Manchester’s Club Academy. Following the recent release of their new album, Starting Gun, which stormed into the UK rock charts at No.17, as well as an appearance only two days earlier at Planet Rock’s Winter’s End Festival, The Bad Flowers were already on a roll.
Giving a confident, assured performance both vocally and on guitar, Tom Leighton was firing on all cylinders. Yelling “Are you feeling vocal, Manchester?!” before launching into an awesome rendition of Thunder Child, he had the audience singing along and buzzing with energy. This was pure, unadulterated rock n’ roll pleasure. Tom’s distinctive vocals soared as he reached for - and hit - some impressively high notes!
Meanwhile, Dale Tonks and Karl Selickis on bass and drums respectively, commanded the rhythm section with ease and helped bring the performance to life with deep, heavy grooves, powerful dynamics and some truly spectacular drumming! Arms were flying and drumsticks were spinning – it was a breath-taking and exhilarating sight to behold! The Bad Flowers closed with City Lights, concluding with a triumphant and rousing chorus.
Returning to the same stage where he supported Glenn Hughes a couple of years ago, you could tell as soon as singer and guitar virtuoso Jared James Nichols opened his mouth – and before he had even emitted a sound – that he wasn’t local. Those blinding, brilliant white teeth instantly gave away his Wisconsin, USA, origins. And whilst the blues-rock vocals that did come out were indeed sublime, it was his stellar guitar playing that stole the show.
Philadelphia-born bassist Gregg Cash and drummer Dennis Holm from Sweden, both talented and accomplished musicians themselves, looked on in awe – as did the audience - during Jared’s inspired and expressive guitar solos. The set included songs from the new album, Black Magic, which were all well received. Two highlights from the set were The Gun, which has enjoyed airplay on Planet Rock radio, and Mississippi Queen, which proved to be a real crowd-pleaser.
Jared James Nichols gave everyone in the packed room a master-class in blues guitar, leaving us all quite humbled by the experience. As one enthusiastic fan said to me after the climactic finale, “That’s the difference between being good and being great”... And I really couldn’t have put it better myself.
Fresh from a headline slot at Winter’s End and celebrating the release of their new album Ain’t Always Easy, West Midlands-based hard rock four-piece Stone Broken were also returning to a familiar stage – one they last graced when they played with Living Colour.
They opened with Heartbeat Away, an intense and sobering song which tackles the issue of domestic violence. Second song, Better, which also happens to be the second track on their debut album All In Time, had the audience taking control of the chorus “Stop wishing your life away…”, without needing too much encouragement from frontman Rich Moss.
Tracks from the new record, Just A Memory and The Only Thing I Need, proved just as popular as the familiar tunes. Another of the new songs, Home, was written about being away from your loved ones and coping with feelings of homesickness, which many of us can relate to. With the ballads nailed, the energy was restored at full force with the catchy Let Me Go.
Robyn Haycock, beaming from ear to ear with sheer delight, gave an immensely enjoyable and skilful drum solo, while Chris Davis on guitar and Kieron Conroy on bass contributed to the huge sound, with great interaction between them. Announcing the last part of the set, the band delivered an impassioned Be There, before choosing the superb Worth Fighting For to close with.
Ending to rapturous applause and calls for more, the crowd insisted on an encore and they weren’t to be disappointed.
Rich returned to the stage alone and performed a beautifully heartfelt Wait For You, with the rest of the band then joining him. This would have been a perfect ending in itself, had it not been for the stunning anthem Not Your Enemy that followed and which received the biggest applause of the evening.
“Thank you! We’ve been Stone Broken and you’ve been amazing – Goodnight!”
Stone Broken have just announced a string of US tour dates this Spring. ‘The Broken Army’ across the pond is in for a real treat!