By David Lydiard / Naomi Jeremiah
(Photo Credits: Lindzrs Media Photography)
Saturday October 7th 2017 saw the first of what will be a regular event on the first Saturday of each month: Big Red Rising. The brainchild of London rock band, and headline act, Red Hawk Rising, Big Red Rising aims to provide a platform for original rock bands to give them the exposure that they wouldn't normally receive.
As the title suggests, Big Red Rising takes place at The Big Red on Holloway Road, London with free entry on the door and a guaranteed packed house.
The honour of being the first band to play Big Red Rising went to Sons Of Ancient Rock (SOAR), a hard, heavy rock band based in London consisting of Julien (vocals), Lewis (lead guitars), Larry (rhythm guitars), Tom (bass) and Greg (drums). From the first couple of bars of "Natural" it becomes quite evident what we are in for, a set of big sounding, classic rock. This was the bands first gig with a new line-up but you wouldn't know it. They were relaxed, with no obvious signs of nerves, and they played real tight. The rhythm section were phenomenal, laying down thick grooves that the band rode throughout, the lead guitar work was superb, with Lewis ripping out some killer solos and on top of all of that, Julien's vocals soared (no pun intended). Blasting through a relentless set of songs, the aforementioned "Natural", "Keep It Rollin'", "Soul Food", "Death Whistle" and "Mesmerise", SOAR gave a fantastic account of themselves and could easily take on a bigger stage. With elements of Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Pantera and Audioslave, SOARs brand of rock may not be reinventing the wheel, but their spine busting riffs, breakneck solos, pummelling rhythms and energetic live show will go a long way to getting them new fans. They made a few at The Big Red for sure.
Up next was 50ft Woman, a RockPopPunk band from London led by the 50ft woman herself, Minki, a 6ft glamazon with a penchant for high heels. Blending a range of influences from AC/DC to Blondie, 50ft Woman are an energetic, punky rock band with pop sensibilities. When you see them, you don't simply get a rock show; you get a performance, as each song is a performance in itself, with Minki inhabiting the characters that she is singing about. Quirky lyrics, catchy choruses and bags of attitude, 50ft Woman have an eclectic sound which won't be for everybody, but Minki is an engaging front woman whose energy is infectious. "Ice Cream Man" was a favourite, "(Strictly) Only Swinging" sounded bigger in a live setting than it does on record, and "Google Tan" talks about how we've all become lit up by the glow of our phones and features the always welcome addition of a cowbell. Minki has a beautiful tone to her voice which is showcased very well when she sings the slower songs.
Now onto our headliners, Red Hawk Rising. Derin (vocals/guitars), Rich (guitars), Steve (bass) and Tim (drums) came into this gig pumped up and ready to rock. Months of organising finally came to the fore as they tore out of the gate with "Freedom Bound in Chains" and "Stop, I'm Already Dead" whipping the packed venue into a frenzy. Once again Derin showcased his effortless power on songs such as "You Are A Woman, I Am A Machine", "Working" and "LA Hay Fever", Tim's pounding rhythms shook The Big Red to its core, proving that he is a monster behind the kit, Steve is a one man orchestra on the bass, his nimble fingers moving swiftly up and down the neck, providing the counterpoint to Richs deft guitar work. Since we last saw them back in April, Red Hawk Rising have gotten better as a cohesive unit, the songs are tighter yet still retain a loose, flowing feel to them. I guess the apt word would be effortless. By the time they steamrolled their way through a cover of "Proud Mary" the crowd were feverish for more and they were treated to an impromptu encore of "Whole Lotta Rosie" to close out the evenings proceedings.
I think it's safe to say that the inaugural Big Red Rising was a tremendous success. Three cracking bands playing to an appreciative, packed crowd, in a fantastic venue where the music and drink flowed in equal measure.
With an event that aims to give bands a decent stage to play on and an opportunity to perform in front of a readymade, captive audience with the view to reach more people and make new fans, Down The Front Media is proud to be associated with Big Red Rising.
We want to thank Red Hawk Rising for asking us to be involved, Ben at The Big Red for his generous hospitality and for providing the venue and the other sponsors, Total Rock, who provided a live stream on the night, Jack Daniels Tennessee Whiskey and Blackstar Amplification.
The next Big Red Rising will be November 4th and it's sure to be another great night.
**PHOTOS ARE NOT TO BE USED WITHOUT THE PRIOR CONSENT OF DOWN THE FRONT MEDIA / LINDZRS MEDIA PHOTOGRAPHY**