BIG RED RISING #2 - The Big Red, London Red Hawk Rising / The Stoned Crows / Dave Winkler's Star Circus



The time has gone so quickly. It seems like only yesterday that we were writing our review of the inaugural Big Red Rising, which launched on October 7th 2017, with Sons of Ancient Rock and 50ft Woman joining the architects of the event Red Hawk Rising. The first Saturday of every month is starting to become something to look forward to and the 2nd edition of Big Red Rising was certainly a gig to be excited about.


The evening’s proceedings kicked off with a bang in the form of Dave Winkler's Star Circus. Dave is a bit of a veteran on the London scene having played in Trophies of Man, Bordello Rose and being Ozzy in famed tribute act Ozzy OzzSpawn, but here he has assembled a project that gives him an outlet when life gets in the way of a band, and thus, Star Circus is born. The idea of the band is that there is a revolving door of members that dip in and out when they can. Playing their first ever gig as a band, and after only having two proper, full rehearsals, Dave Winkler's Star Circus oozed confidence from the outset. Dave, dressed in a sparkly red shirt complete with top hat, led the band through an 8-song set that included a Bordello Rose song ‘Outta My Head’ and a cover of Tom Petty's ‘I Won't Back Down’. 


They have a sound that marries big, meaty rock riffs with pop sensibilities and you can hear, at times, the Ozzy influences come through as well as some Dio inspired moments. The way the band utilises the two females in the group when it comes to harmonies is a great touch and I, personally, would've liked to have heard them on the aforementioned Tom Petty cover. Alana Gee on guitars and Liza Bec on keytar, sax and at one point, a recorder certainly added to the flair on display and gives the band a distinctive sound. Rounding out the Star Circus on bass guitar was another Dave, who kept the songs anchored with some deep, sexy bass and Tom on the drums, who was making The Big Red shake with some monster grooves and a thumping kick drum. The sax itself added a bit of spice to the mix and featured prominently on ‘Something’ when the song broke down into a jazzy section. This particular song, Dave mentioned, was written way back in 1996!


Overall, Dave Winkler's Star Circus were a great listen. If you like classic rock, big riffs, sing-along choruses and something a bit quirky then you'll find much to love here. The band were tight and you can see the experience that the members have paying off, as they produced a slick, polished performance which belies the fact that this was their first ever gig!! A great way to start the night off. 


Dave Winkler's Star Circus:-

Dave Winkler - Vocals / Guitars

Liza Bec - Saxophone / Keytar / Recorder / Backing vocals

Alana Gee - Guitars / Backing vocals

David Ryder Prangley - Bass

Tom Ashcroft – Drums


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The excitement continued with the next act of the night. Ever since they came onto our radar when we heard ‘Madman’, and spoke to frontman Keaton on Episode #43 of Down The Front Podcast, we had been looking forward to seeing The Stoned Crows live this evening. With all the hype we had built up, they were always going to disappoint us, right? Wrong! Wrong a thousand times over! This young band (oldest member is 19!) played a blistering set that would put many established bands to shame. Professional, polished and as tight as a tourniquet, The Stoned Crows treated us to some high octane, 1960s inspired Rhythm & Blues. Think of the classics: Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins and Johnny Cash, then take the rawness and energy of youth and throw in some hard work, dedication and determination and you've got The Stoned Crows. 


They smoulder on stage with a swagger, a confidence and a dash of well placed arrogance, and delivered a well rehearsed set of 7 songs to a crowd that were willing to drink it all in. A couple of technical issues aside, this performance was faultless and the way Keaton handled those problems was highly professional, when others would have had been flustered. He didn't let it deter from the performance and I challenge anyone to come away from their set with a negative thing to say. 

It is always exciting when you are witness to a young band that possess this level of potential and with the kind of skills that the band have at their disposal, along with the power and maturity of the vocals, The Stoned Crows are a band well worth your attention and most definitely worth keeping an eye on. Their influences may be very well steeped in the past but The Stoned Crows are ones for the future!


The Stoned Crows:-

Keaton Smout - Vocals / Guitars

Harry Chard - Bass

Enguerrand Cleron - Guitars

Keane Slade – Drums


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Red Hawk Rising take to the stage next and blaze through a ferocious set. As Derin pointed out ‘Stop, I'm Already Dead’ is about Charles Manson and NOT about necrophilia, but either way, it's one of my favourites and has such an intensity about it that I just lose myself in it. ‘Angel Without Wings’ saw the crowd a bit flat, perhaps some Winter blues setting in but nothing some rousing hand claps can't sort out and, by the time they had finished ‘Landmasser’, the crowd were pumped up leaving Derin to exclaim "That's better, that got me hard!"


We spoke about monster grooves earlier with Dave Winkler's Star Circus but Tim Churchman rips it up and the finale of ‘Landmasser’ had the whole room vibrating. Such a beast behind the kit and, again, the rhythm section of himself and Steve Parsons work so well together in creating those deep foundations, which, ironically, shook the foundations of The Big Red this particular night.


From this point on the crowd were jumping, cheering loudly, and rightly so, for ‘You Are A Woman, I Am A Machine’, ‘Working’ and ‘LA Hay Fever’ (which got the crowd moving a lot!). Then it was time that we took a short break for a T-Shirt giveaway, courtesy of another one of the sponsors, Blackstar Amplification, and to serenade an audience member, Stacey, with a rendition of Happy Birthday.


Time for a new song ‘My Devil Woman’ which saw Derin down on the floor dancing with a couple of head banging lads. Why was he on the floor you ask? He doesn't know how to play the song on guitar just yet so we had the skills of Edward Box to thrill us instead. (Fun fact: Ed never heard the song before coming on stage! Well done, mate!) Such a great song with a catchy beat, a great riff and pinpoint perfect vocal acrobatics. A solid track that sounds awesome live!


The night ended with a couple of classic covers of ‘Proud Mary’ and ‘Whole Lotta Rosie’ which featured a guest solo spot from Dan Parsons and what a superb way it was to end! Red Hawk Rising were awesome, delivering a solid, tight set and as the crowd came alive, so did the band, completely feeding off the energy of the room and by the end of their set, The Big Red was rammed. As it should be!


Red Hawk Rising:-

Derin Adebiyi - Vocals / Guitars

Rich Wearz - Guitars / Backing vocals

Steve Parsons - Bass / Backing vocals

Tim Churchman – Drums


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The 2nd edition of Big Red Rising was an undoubted success, with all three bands delivering, and showing that the rock scene in the UK is alive and thriving, and that there is very much a demand for this music. What we saw were 3 hungry, talented bands, putting on tour de force performances on a stage designed to showcase their talents.


Big Red Rising #3 is on 16th December 2017, with announcements to be made shortly. Awesome music at an awesome venue and it's FREE entry! Mark in your diaries the first Saturday of the month because you are guaranteed an incredible night of live music!


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Check out Episode #43 of to hear our interviews with Dave Winkler’s Star Circus and The Stoned Crows:




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