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Live Reviews

Holding Absence

Colchester Arts Centre

Thursday 2nd February 2023

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HOLDING ABSENCE – COLCHESTER – LIVE REVIEW

As Independent Venue Week continues we head to one of the country’s finest, the wonderful Colchester Arts Centre. Seriously though, those toilets will have you feeling like royalty – toilet-circuit indeed!

In town tonight are Holding Absence who are towards the end of a tour of the UK’s off the beaten track venues and the locals are clearly excited with the show a sell out.

Most of the audience are in the venue early to catch the support (always a wise move!) and up first the crowd are treated to the ferocious Your Misery. Controlling the stage as if they were seasoned veterans, the band are able to not just warm up the crowd but fully win them over. Certainly one to keep an eye on, Your Misery couldn’t have done any more tonight to make a statement.

Our second act, Australians Void of Vision, most definitely feel like a band that know how to make a statement of their own. The group burst onto stage and fill the venue with their huge sound. It’s an audio onslaught for the next forty-five minutes as the likes of ‘DOMINATRIX’, ‘THE LONELY PEOPLE’ and ‘INTO THE DARK’ leave the crowd desperate for more.

There may not be any more Void of Vision tonight, but you can expect to hear much more in the future. With a new EP coming soon, this could be a breakthrough year for the band.

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Holding Absence – ‘Afterlife’

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Our headliners, Holding Absence, have felt like they are breaking out for a few years now. Certainly not ones to rest on their laurels; their touring schedule has been intense. The majority of those shows though have been support slots, so it’s refreshing to catch them at a headline show finally.

The core fanbase of the band appear very committed and there is anticipation in the air in this old church tonight. That anticipation boils over as the band arrive on stage and quickly run through ‘Monochrome’, ‘Beyond Belief’ and ‘Like A Shadow’ much to the delight of those fans.

The setlist tonight is a real mix of the bands releases with highlights including ‘Gravity’, ‘In Circles’ and new song ‘Aching Longing’. You’d perhaps expect a little more from a headline show, but I guess the old adage is to leave the audience wanting more.

After a finale of ‘Afterlife’ and ‘Wilt’, Holding Absence most definitely do just that. With so many sing-a-long anthems or bangers as the kids would say, and an engaging stage presence you’d hope that the band will live up to their early promise.

Three bands at different stages of their budding careers tonight all make a valuable impression. It’s worth remembering that nights like this are happening up and down the country, night in night out. It’s tough out there and venues and bands need your support, so perhaps think twice on spending hundreds of pounds on those Beyonce tickets and pop down to your local independent venue instead!

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Live Reviews

Black Stone Cherry & The Darkness

Resorts World Arena, Birmingham

Tuesday 31st January 2023

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BLACK STONE CHERRY & THE DARKNESS – BIRMINGHAM – LIVE REVIEW

One fateful night many years ago in the depths of the forests of Thetford a relatively spontaneous pairing occurred as Black Stone Cherry jumped in to support The Darkness after an infamous festival cancellation.

I was there that momentous evening to witness the magic that transpired. I was rather pleased then when the two bands announced a co-headline arena tour a decade or so later. So, tonight I head to the Resorts World Arena in Birmingham to relive that fine evening.

Opening on this tour is Danko Jones, who always delivers the goods. You know that you are in for a good rocking with Jones and tonight is no different. When your time onstage is short, you need to make the most of it and that’s exactly what Jones does with a fast paced rock n roll romp.

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The Darkness – ‘Motorheart’

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The first of our two headliners to take to the stage are The Darkness and as their set progresses I find myself reminiscing of that night in 2012. I remember that the band were fresh into their return and finding their feet again as a live act. The Darkness have always been considered a fantastic live act, but tonight I realise just how much further they’ve come.

Consistently good new material over the past decade has helped, but the band has really fine tuned themselves with drummer Rufus Taylor having a large role in that. The Showmanship of Justin Hawkins, the flamboyance of Frankie Poullain and the flair of Dan Hawkins now have a harnessing force that makes them incredibly slick.

When you then throw in plenty of pyrotechnics, you have a recipe for a stunning show and that’s exactly what The Darkness deliver tonight. From opening number ‘Growing on Me’ through to theatrical set closer ‘Love on the Rocks With No Ice’, The Darkness not only reassert themselves as one of the best live acts around but demonstrate the progress that they’ve made in the last decade.

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Black Stone Cherry – ‘Out of Pocket’

Progress is a key word also when considering Black Stone Cherry who close the night this time around. They’ve come a long way in the last ten years and are now a regular arena filling act in the UK.

Tonight their time onstage is perhaps slightly shorter than usual, but they still manage to pack a career spanning setlist into that time. Less theatrical then The Darkness, Black Stone Cherry have always been happy to let the music do the talking and the crowd tonight are more than content with that.

Newer material like ‘Burnin’’, ‘Again’ and their latest single, ‘Out of Pocket’ feel at home in the set and evidence the great work produced by the band since 2012. Of course though tracks from that time like ‘White Trash Millionaire’ and ‘Blame It On The Boom Boom’ elicit huge response from the audience.

These are three different performances tonight from three different bands all bound by the love of rock. I knew walking into the arena that I’d be catching three of the most consistently good live acts on the circuit, so the quality of the evening isn’t a surprise tonight. Walking out of the venue however, I’m most impressed by the growth and evolution shown since that memorable evening in the woods!

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Live Reviews

British Lion

Epic Studios, Norwich

Thursday 19th January 2023

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BRITISH LION – NORWICH – LIVE REVIEW

All 📸 (c) Denis Gorbatov / Full Pelt Music

We’re fully embedded in the new year now, so it must be time for music fans to get back into the UK’s fine music venues. In fact we are close to the ever important, Independent Venue Week, so it’s great to start the year at one such venue – Epic Studios in Norwich.

The versatile venue can host events of all sorts but on this bitterly cold January evening, it hosts lots of denim and leather rockers as British Lion come to town!

AIRFORCE

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The final night of a full UK Tour, the band led by the legendary Steve Harris of Iron Maiden, attract a very healthy crowd tonight. Those in attendance are treated to not one but two accomplished support acts with the first of those, Airforce, in full effect as most attendees enter the venue.

Musically very suitable to supporting a member of Maiden, Airforce make the most of their short time on stage with a succinct and vociferous performance which no doubt wins over any uninitiated in the audience.

VOODOO SIX

Next up is Voodoo Six, a band that Maiden/Lion fans will be very familiar with. The band stepped in on short notice to fill the void left by Canadian group Coney Hatch being unable to fulfil the tour.

Disappointing for some, for others like myself, this was actually an upgrade. Voodoo Six have consistently put out quality music and put on great shows for two decades now. Numerous line-up changes haven’t prevented the band putting out six albums and playing shows all over the world.

Tonight, they are on top form once again with an assured performance, mixing tracks old and new, to the delight of the crowd. Perennially tipped for bigger things, perhaps that ship has sailed but the constant of quality music and great shows doesn’t appear to be going anywhere as Voodoo Six once again show themselves to be criminally underrated.

BRITISH LION

Finally the time arrives for British Lion to take to the stage and they naturally receive a hero’s welcome. It’s the last show of the tour but also a (close to) hometown show for a number of the members, so the atmosphere is relaxed and the band let the music do the bulk of the talking.

The group have two albums in the bank at this point and the set list is a good mix of the two. Harris and co are able to give a good account of themselves, with singer Richard Taylor even acknowledging the apparent identity crisis that the band often have thrust upon them by others.

Long since dispelled as a mere solo project for Harris, since their inception in 2012 the group has evolved and that’s evident tonight with the stage presence of Taylor as exhibit A. This is a package now and not a vessel for Harris alone.

That makes the spectacle greater as far as the live show goes and places more emphasis on the music as opposed to the “oh look there’s Steve Harris” feeling for their early shows. It’s great to see and will hopefully lead to greater longevity from the project.

As this tour draws to a close with ‘Eyes of the Young’, British Lion may take a step back to Iron Maiden once again, but with performances like tonight you know it won’t be long before the band are reunited onstage again.

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Live Reviews

Jamie Lenman

Corn Exchange, Hertford

Thursday 17th November 2022

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JAMIE LENMAN – HERTFORD – LIVE REVIEW

All 📸 (c) Denis Gorbatov / Full Pelt Music

Is there anything better than heading to an independent venue, checking out unknown supports acts before enjoying a familiar face present their latest work? Well, not for me and tonight is a prime example as we head to the Corn Exchange in Hertford.

The venue is a new one for us having never been to Hertford before let alone the newly refurbished Corn Exchange. Small, yet spacious with a well stocked bar and great views all around, the new management team have done a great job setting up this top venue.

DROWN

The unknown support act tonight is Drown, who don’t drown and in fact swim! Metaphorically that is, as they deliver a well received, well rounded opening set which gets the crowd ready for the main act, whilst also giving a glimpse of the talents the band clearly possess.

Soon enough it’s time for that familiar face to grace the stage and serenade us with songs both new and old. Tonight, that act is Jamie Lenman who is gearing up for the release of his latest solo album, ‘The Athiest’ on November 25th.

JAMIE LENMAN

Playing the fourth show of a small run of pre-release dates, the focus tonight is very much on that new album and ‘This Is All There Is’ and the fantastic single, ‘Talk Hard’ provide an energetic start to the set. ‘Talk Hard’ particularly stands out tonight in the live setting as a phenomenally catchy song.

With the highly accessible sound on ‘The Athiest’, Lenman has struck gold in both maintaining his identity and expanding his sound further than ever before. This album should gain the well travelled songsmith many new fans; with show closer ‘Lena Don’t Leave Me’ another example of why.

Older fans are also catered to tonight though with tracks from each of Lenman’s solo albums and a couple of tracks from his previous life in Reuben thrown in for good measure. There can be no complaints come the end of the night that Jamie Lenman has fully entertained those that have made the journey.

Yes, nights like these are very special indeed; a great new venue, a new musical discovery and the chance to savour one of the most effortlessly talented musicians on the road live. Do yourselves a favour, get down to your local venue and join in the fun!

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Live Reviews

Evanescence / Within Temptation

O2 Arena, London

Monday 14th November 2022

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Evanescence / Within temptation – london – live review

In many ways the world is broken, but in others the world is now healing after the previous two to three years. All regular gig attendees had their carefully curated schedules wiped out by the pandemic. Cancellations, postponements, uncertainty, changed plans, travel and hotel arrangements in tatters; it’s not been easy for music lovers.

Most of those tours have now finally taken place, but tonight is another where digging out the tickets reminds you just how long ago you actually brought them! So, understandable then that anticipation is high and the venue is full early.

Of course the opportunity to catch both Evanescence and Within Temptation together in the same night may well be a big reason for the atmosphere in London’s O2 Arena. Before that though we get our support act Veridia, who instantly look at home on the big stage.

The group are a fitting opening act and get the crowd suitably warmed up for what’s to come. A tender performance of ‘I’ll Never Be Ready’ with Amy Lee gets those mobile phones up in the air, but there is enough in the set as a whole to warrant further investigation from new fans.

Our co-headliners are rotating the closing slot on this tour and tonight that will be Evanescence, so up next it’s Within Temptation who take to the stage complete with stunning production.

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Within Temptation – ‘Faster’

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If the stage show wasn’t headline worthy alone, the moment the band arrive their presence and energy is truly off the charts. ‘Faster’, ‘Paradise (What About Us?)’ and ‘Stand My Ground’ all help to build on that early atmosphere and create a real moment.

The fact that singer Sharon den Adel is clearly under the weather makes the beauty of their performance even more incredible. The final run of ‘Ice Queen’, ‘What Have You Done’ and ‘Mother Earth’ provides a superb climax to the set and leaves you wondering just how Evanescence can top it!

Soon enough it’s time for them to try, albeit with a much simpler stage show. Evanescence are a rarer proposition on these shores and them going on last feels right in many ways, but as the show gets going it’s clear that the energy levels have dropped.

Their latest album, ‘The Bitter Truth’, is very good and deserves the spotlight live, but tonight following Within Temptation’s huge show it’s clear the audience are after the classics. The atmosphere therefore feels a little flatter, only rising again for the likes of ‘Going Under’, ‘Call Me When You’re Sober’ and ‘Imaginary’.

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Evanescence – ‘Wasted On You’

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New tracks like ‘Wasted On You’ do sound epic tonight however and showcase where the band are very well. Amy Lee reminds everyone what an incredible talent she is and their finale of ‘My Immortal’ and ‘Bring Me to Life’ is probably the highlight of the night.

Having waited for years for this tour neither band disappoint and with two headline worthy performances the show represents great value for money. Both bands have just been announced as returning at Download in the summer, so do the right thing and get them noted on your clashfinder now!

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Live Reviews

Biffy Clyro

O2 Arena, London

Saturday 12th November

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BIFFY CLYRO – LONDON – LIVE REVIEW

Biffy Clyro had just announced a UK Arena Tour when the world shut up shop in March 2020. Since then they’ve released two albums, headlined Reading & Leeds and Download Festivals and played an intimate run of UK dates. Now, two and a half years later the band finally gets to grace again the largest indoor venues the country has to offer.

Tonight that places them at the monstrous O2 Arena in London in front of a packed Saturday night crowd. Anticipation is high, and not just for the Scottish heroes, but for special guests Architects fresh from an arena tour of their own back in May.

Both bands will be hoping the crosspollination of their audiences will earn new admirers and for Architects up first there is clearly is mixture of diehard fans and trepidatious unfamiliar audience members.

Focusing on their more accessible recent material is a clever move from the band and tracks such as ‘deep fake’ and ‘tear gas’ ease inhibitions and start to win over those starting out on the fence.

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Architects – ‘Animals’

A smooth and effortless run through of the likes of ‘Dead Butterflies’, ‘Doomsday’, ‘when we were young’ and closer ‘Animals’ ensures many new fans will have been found tonight. A random introduction from Joel Dommett stated that Architects are one of the best bands in the UK, and whilst our headliners have a major stake in that argument, tonight our guests have ensured that they are in the conversation.

Anybody that has seen Biffy Clyro live however will know that they are one of the most consistently impressive live forces on the circuit. Tonight, to the surprise of nobody, they are once again a level above the competition.

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Biffy Clyro – ‘Who’s Got A Match?’

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Opening trio ‘DumDum’, ‘A Hunger In Your Haunt’ and ‘Tiny Indoor Fireworks’ perhaps provide a slow start to the set but from ‘Who’s Got A Match?’ onwards the venue comes alive as the band produce the proverbial banger after banger.

The composition of the setlist is well balanced with a good mix of new, old and the return of a couple of even older pre-mainstream Biffy Clyro numbers ‘57’ and ‘Glitter and Trauma’.

The stage is simple but effective with the music the focal point tonight, and with the likes of ‘Instant History’, ‘Mountains’, ‘Wolves of Winter’ and ‘Biblical’ on offer that’s all that is really needed.

Just watching the crowd reactions to the likes of ‘Living Is A Problem Because Everything Dies’, ‘The Captain’, ‘Bubbles’ and ‘Many of Horror’ makes is so obvious that Biffy Clyro are now fully established as an elite tier act. Mon the Biff!

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Live Reviews

Creeper

Roundhouse, London

Friday 4th November 2022

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CREEPER – LONDON – LIVE REVIEW

The last time Creeper played a show like this in London, they “broke up” and vanished for a year. In advance of tonight there have been teases of some vampiric happenings in Camden, so it’s no surprise that the band’s dedicated fanbase sold out their biggest ever headline show at the iconic Roundhouse.

The theatre starts early with opening act Zetra. The gothic synth-gaze group are a fitting start to the evening and get the early attendees into the spirit for what is to come.

Main support act Bad Nerves are more of a straightforward proposition, blasting out their rough and ready punk rock anthems to the enjoyment of the audience.

Realistically however tonight was always going to be about one band and one band alone, our headliners Creeper. Before then however the vampire theme is played out again with clips from legendary vampire movies projected onto the curtain protecting the stage.

When that curtain finally drops the band burst onto an appropriately decorated stage with early fan favourite ‘VCR’, much to the delight of the packed venue. The opening guitar riff of ‘Born Cold’ then cuts the atmosphere in two and the crowd truly erupt.

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Creeper – ‘Born Cold’

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Big hitters ‘Suzanne’ and ‘Annabelle’ follow and you already know that tonight is going to be special. From here on out, it’s a true career-spanning setlist from the band with a surprising amount of early material finding its way back into the set, which again helps to feed that special feeling this evening.

Over the past year or so, Creeper have taken major leaps forward sonically and visually, on record and live. All that early promise is being fully realised and tonight feels like a celebration of everything they’ve done to this point. Both albums and all major EP’s are represented.

The stage presence of the band has come so far and seeing frontman Will Gould at the peak of his powers, and Hannah Greenwood own the stage like never before is incredible for fans that have been with the band since their humble beginnings.

Every word of every song is sung back by the passionate audience at the top of their lungs. There is a connection in place here between band and fans that is hard to describe, but we’ll attempt to with the word magical!

Stunning moments such as the live debut of ‘All My Friends’ ensure this evening is the spectacle it promised to be, but it’s what transpires after ‘Misery’ brings tonight to a beautiful close that will be talked about forever in Creeper folklore.

After a vampire beheads Gould, a video announces that the band has signed with Spinefarm Records and new single ‘Ghost Brigade’ has just been released. As one chapter closes, another begins and Creeper remain on course for greatness.

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Live Reviews

Bury Tomorrow

UEA LCR, Norwich

Monday 31st October 2022

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BURY TOMORROW – NORWICH – LIVE REVIEW

Amber leaves lay sodden on the ground, there is a crisp chill in the autumnal air and there is an awful lot of black clothing amongst the excited crowds gathering at the UEA LCR door. Yes, whilst the ghouls and spooks are out guising across Norwich this All Hallows’ Eve, the city’s metal community are haunting its largest venue.

There are no tricks here this Halloween, just the treat of a hard hitting night of action from the double-headed monster that is the co-headlining Bury Tomorrow and August Burns Red, albeit with a re-jigged undercard.

NOVELISTS FR

Gone just days ahead of the tour are Miss May I, joining Thornhill in departing the tour originally booked some 3 years ago (we all know what has transpired in that time!). Jumping in on short notice however are Novelists FR who receive a warm welcome.

As they arrive onstage in a venue festively decorated with ghostly figures, the early crowd show that they are here for some fun tonight. The French latecomers are able to deliver just what is needed to warm everyone up for the barrage of noise that is set to follow.

AUGUST BURNS RED

Up next is August Burns Red, who instantly rile the audience up with a quick run-through of System of a Down classic ‘Chop Suey!’. Clearly the band have many fans in the audience and those fans are treated to an hour of brutality from a band well versed in serving up crowd pleasing performances.

BURY TOMORROW

Our headliners Bury Tomorrow arrive onstage, dressed in white paper suits, and instantly bring the ferocity and intensity that has earned them their pedigree as a live act. The opening three tracks instigate a hot atmosphere in the crowd, until sadly a lengthy medical incident in the audience derails the momentum.

It has to be said the response from the band, the crowd, the security, the venue and medical staff is fantastic, and hopefully that individual is ok! It naturally takes a short while to find the same level of energy again, but Bury Tomorrow ensure that soon enough the party is back in full swing.

‘LIFE (Paradise Denied)’ particularly does well in getting the atmosphere back on track and helps return the band to their stride. It isn’t just Halloween that has the bodies moving tonight, and by the time the show comes to an end everyone in the venue, be it human, monster, vampire or ghost as had a great time.

Soon this tour heads off into Europe, and next year Bury Tomorrow will return with their seventh album. But right now we return to the dark, cold and creepy outdoors.

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Live Reviews

The Snuts

UEA LCR, Norwich

Monday 17th October 2022

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THE SNUTS – NORWICH – LIVE REVIEW

When the industry is always looking for the next big thing, The Snuts have certainly thrown their name in that hat over the past couple of years. A huge debut album has now been followed up with a brave, adventurous and importantly well received sophomore record.

To really breakthrough though artists need to back up what they do on record when taking to the stage. Tonight we head to the UEA LCR in Norwich to see what progress the band have made on this front.

Up first however are local favourites Youth Killed It who command the stage as if they were the headliners. Full of genre-bending rifftastic sing-a-long anthems, the band control the stage with utter ease. Whilst just the opening act tonight, there would be worse bets to place than one predicting that Youth Killed It will return to headline this stage.

Next, the audience are serenaded by young singer-songwriter Heidi Curtis who is able to charm the baying crowd with her uplifting performance. Curtis is most definitely one to watch in the coming years.

Finally the venue get the group that they’ve been waiting for as The Snuts arrive onstage to a powerful politically charged video. Yes, video… the band instantly showcase their intentions to raise their live credentials with a elegant stage set up.

It’s not all style and no substance however, as The Snuts are able to back it up with a stunning performance full of effortless cool swagger. The audience are held in the palm of their hand as they mix material from their two albums.

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The Snuts – ‘The Rodeo’

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Fan favourites such as ‘Glasgow’, ‘All Your Friends’ and ‘Always’ sound absolutely huge while newer tracks ‘The Rodeo’ and ‘Zuckerpunch’ show that new album ‘Burn the Empire’ is also full of anthems.

If tonight The Snuts were auditioning to be the next breakout indie megastars then they’d have been given the part before they even finished their routine!

An encore of ‘Burn the Empire’ and ‘Fatboy Slim’ is really just the icing on what has been a delicious cake. The Snuts it would appear are ready to take over the world.

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Live Reviews

Pulled Apart By Horses

Waterfront Studio, Norwich

Saturday 15th October 2022

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PULLED APART BY HORSES – NORWICH – LIVE REVIEW

All 📸 (c) Denis Gorbatov / Full Pelt Music

Perennial contenders Pulled Apart By Horses have just released the fifth studio album of their near fifteen year career. ‘Reality Cheques’ features a more streamlined sound and tonight in Norwich we get to see how that translates on stage.

MAGNOLIA PHOTOS

Opening the early evening show at the Waterfront Studio are local newcomers Magnolia. It’s difficult to find much about the band online and even harder to pigeonhole them into any genre.

Describing themselves as psychedelic post-punk, there are certainly elements of those genres present in amongst their experimental sound. There are also many others as killer riffs segue into moments of pure randomness. There are times of brilliance and times of dreadfulness in their short set. Only a young act, there is something here, I’m just not sure what it is yet!

THE HOWLERS PHOTOS

Next up are a band clearly further along their discovery path. Londoners The Howlers recently released new EP, ‘Further Down the Line’ and songs from that record are highlights tonight.

The group own the stage like they are industry veterans and the crowd are left in awe of a top quality support slot. These are the shows where newer acts can win new fans and build their audiences and the likes of ‘The Boy I Was Before’ and ‘El Dorado’ will have done some excellent building work tonight.

PULLED APART BY HORSES PHOTOS

Finally, our headliners Pulled Apart By Horses take to the stage and from the first angry guitar strum the intimate audience are raucous! To say that both band and crowd are up for it tonight would be an understatement and that makes for a fantastic atmosphere on this Saturday night.

New album, ‘Reality Cheques’, naturally features heavily in the set list for Pulled Apart By Horses and as they open with ‘Pipe Dream’ and ‘First World Problems’ it’s clear that the album passes the live test. The new songs sound massive as do older tracks such as ‘The Haze’ and ‘The Big What If’.

During a cost of living crisis, small shows such as this are superb value for money and our headliners deliver an energetic and engaged display from start to finish – something often found lacking with arena shows.

As Pulled Apart By Horses close their set with fan favourites ‘V.E.N.O.M.’, ‘I Punched A Lion In The Throat’ and ‘High Five, Swan Dive, Nose Dive’, they reaffirm themselves a standout live act and rubberstamp the fact that five albums in they remain a creative force.

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