Glasgow likes to party for the late September bank holiday weekend. The four day weekend tends to see a raucous atmosphere in the city, and with the added bonus of a little known football match thrown in, it’s one of those nights when you try not to make eye contact as you navigate through a throbbing city centre. Providing a welcome oasis amongst a sea of inebriated replica-shirt-wearing fans is tonight’s venue, the Cathouse. On offer, a couple of tasty slices of British rock n’ roll in the shape of Voodoo Six and SKAM, with a smattering of classic AOR/melodic rock to get the party started, courtesy of JAG, otherwise known as the Jimi Anderson Group.
Born a few miles along the motorway in Lanarkshire, Anderson has been performing in one guise or another since the late ‘70’s. Recent outings as lead vocalist in tribute act A Foreigners Journey and the Legends Of AOR project will give you an inclination of what to expect from JAG. Silky smooth vocals and catchy melodic rock in the style of Whitesnake, Lou Gramm, John Waite and Def Leppard. Throw in the fretboard fireworks from Connor Williamson, and it’s a welcome trip back in time to when everyone’s hair was a bit bigger and jeans a tad tighter. It’s hard not to smile when the music on offer is as infectious as the likes of ‘Higher Than Higher’ and ‘Brave New World’, and after the last notes of an impressive set fade out, it’s a no-brainer to visit the merch stand to pick up a copy of new album ‘Longtime Comin’.
With new album ‘The Amazing Memoirs Of Geoffrey Goddard’ due later this year, Leicester trio SKAM tease the crowd with an opening brace of new numbers. Followers of the band will have been familiar with the pair as both ‘Between The Eyes’ and ‘Fading Before The Sun’ have been available for perusal on YouTube for a while now. ‘Between The Eyes’ in particular stands out with its muscular drum sound from Neal Hill, who pounds the skins with a degree of ferocity not seen very often these days. This is a band made to be on stage, so with the long recording process over, the phrase “Cry havoc, and let slip the dogs of war” springs to mind… especially where bassist Matt Gilmore is concerned. Is it possible for a bassist to melt your face? Yes. Yes it is. Stomping the stage like a man possessed, Gilmore is a joy to watch, gurning like a loon as he brings the thunderous low-end to the party. There are times when vocalist and sole guitarist Steve Hill is playing that you find yourself checking if there is another player hidden in the wings. The wall of riffs that he produces is massive, and the fact that he manages to do so while also delivering a strong vocal performance is testament to his abilities. He’s also not short of confidence. An engaging and warm frontman, he’s amongst friends but just in case anyone isn’t paying attention, during ‘Let’s Get Rocked’ he’s off the stage, round the length of the hall, and back on stage without dropping a chord. Aware of the fact that the new album isn’t out yet, the bulk of the set is made up of material from the last few albums and ‘The Wire’, ‘Holy City’ and ‘Massacre’ are all met with rapturous cheers of approval. ‘The Amazing Memoirs Of Geoffrey Goddard’ is a bold move. Not many bands would tackle a concept album, but having had a sneak peek, I can testify that SKAM have pulled it off. When they head out on a headlining tour later this year in support of the album, do yourself a favour and get your arse up off the couch and get out to witness a British band doing things just that bit differently.
Voodoo Six already have their latest opus available, and as it’s the first to feature new vocalist Nik Taylor-Stoakes, it’s fair to say that the release of ‘Make Way For The King’ was one eagerly anticipated. A bloody cracking album that saw the band triumphing over adversity, it was time to check if the new line-up and new songs could cut the mustard live. Short answer to both would be yes they can. After the ‘Great Escape’ intro tape fades out, the band steamroller straight into ‘Falling Knives’, which still packs an almighty punch four years after it’s release. From here, Voodoo Six visit ‘Make Way For The King’ for the first time with ‘Falling Apart’, a great mix of Velvet Revolver swagger and quintessential British rock. That’s always been one of the main attractions of Voodoo Six, they play with the speed and balls of a classic British band, but manage to easily combine it with the coolness that our cousins across the Atlantic have in abundance. Bassist Tony Newton is as NWOBHM as they come… old school foot on the monitor, eye contact with the front row, constantly smiling. This is a guy clearly having a blast on stage, as he laps up the adulation that the songs (old and new) bring. Older favourites like ‘Take The Blame’, ‘Sink Or Swim’ sit perfectly alongside new tracks such as ‘Walk A Mile’, ‘Electric’ and the towering title track. Taylor-Stoakes handles the older stuff well, but for obvious reasons, when the band launch into one of the songs that he co-wrote, then he gains an extra few inches in stature. The guitar sound on the title track reminds me of Aerosmith’s classic ‘Sweet Emotion’, the part where Joe Perry and Co ramp it up during the breakdown. Matt Pearce has a beaut of a solo midway through, and heads do indeed bang. Taylor-Stoakes wears his heart on his sleeve, and pauses to mention that ‘Amen’ was written after the Bataclan terrorist attacks, an emotional subject at the best of times, but when you’re standing in a darkened venue watching a band, then it really hits home how terrifying it must have been. Hard to believe that two years have passed since the attack.
Three excellent examples of the high standard of British acts currently treading the boards and putting in the miles criss-crossing the motorway networks of this sceptred isle. No-one could have had any complaints about value for money after tonight’s show, and judging by the queue at the merch desk after, no-one did.
Review: Dave Stott
Images: Callum Scott