Eleven in Stoke is always a pleasure to go to, friendly people, great sound and great lighting which all contribute to the overall enjoyment of an evening listening and seeing great bands. The great band tonight are Blood Red Saints. If past gigs are anything to go by, it would be entertaining not just for some terrific music.
Playing some big shows since 2016 including Rockingham, HRH and Frontiers Festival, it is great to see the guys back on the road touring their second album, ‘Love Hate Conspiracies’.
The band describe themselves as melodic hard rock but for me they err on the side of classic AOR. Pete Godfrey has a very melodic tone to his voice and can belt out the tunes or give them a harder rock edge.
The band have changed their line up a couple of times over the last few year’s but the constant core has been forging their way through writing two decent albums. Rob Naylor on bass brings a groove and Lee Revill is a technically sound lead guitarist with bags of shredding in the tank. Newer additions Neil Hibbs on rhythm guitar and Andy Chemney on drums bring experience, drive and a fullness to the sound.
So, to the nights events.
Pete and Lee take to the stage to deliver the news that the support band had unfortunately not been able to come along so they were going to perform a brief acoustic set of classic rock songs. “Is that ok?” asked Pete. Erm yeah! Fine by the crowd nestled around the room. Most people here have seen the band before or heard of them so to have a double dose of Mr Godfrey singing a bit of classic rock would not be a problem at all.
Describing the format as ‘they’ll sing and play a bit and also answer a few questions’, Godfrey did look slightly uncomfortable but with a few nips of dutch courage relaxed a little, especially when the songs effortlessly flowed. A few less than serious (and prepared) questions from the compare (bassist Rob Naylor) caused much hilarity and story-telling including the wonderful description of Godfrey joining Kip Winger on stage at the acoustic VIP party at Frontiers Festival the previous year to sing ‘Miles Away’ before singing the song himself very beautifully to rapturous applause. A failed attempt at getting Naylor to sing a song (well he tried but trust me is no lead vocalist!) and after a request for the audience to join him on the big chorus culminated in Bon Jovi’s ‘Living on a Prayer’ which the crowd obliged admirably, the guys left the stage ready for the headline act to take their place!...
The opening track of the album is also the opening track of the night for the full band ‘Another Freak’, booming bass, and dirty riffs dominate the track and it’s the vocal delivery which keeps it from descending into the heavier side of rock. The sound is awesome, I love Eleven, it holds the sound perfectly.
‘Mercy’ from their previous album ‘Speedway’ is more melodic but it packs a punch with layers of vocals and an ear worming chorus and tidy guitar solo from Revill. ‘Turn On The Night’ has a gang chant opening – lots of “whoa, whoa, yeah, yeah’s” and rhythmic drumming smatterings of riffs and key changes. This is melodic rock at its best. ‘Wake Up’ another new song from ‘Love Hate Conspiracies” is next a rich full melody, flowing waves of music, layers of backing vocals supporting a lighter vocal delivery from Godfrey. It has all of the hallmarks of a Def Leppard song but the vocal is stronger.
Back to the first album with ‘Dangerous’. I fell for this track first time I heard it live. A passionate vocal with a low, hard and heavy backline but sitting in all the thudding is a catchy melody. A floating guitar solo which becomes engulfed in snarling riffs and dexterous shredding creates a top-notch track.
Back to the slightly harder sound which seems consistent with the new album tracks with ‘Something in your Kiss’. This sounds good live. Dropping straight into the title track of the album with a buzzy riff and key change which kicks in the chorus of ‘Love Hate Conspiracies’. The crowd sing along, it is such a strong melody it is impossible not to. Switching up to grimy riffs and sliding into low rumblings, the song is multi-dimensional and well constructed. Chemney’s additional vocals do give the band a great layer of sound.
A song I was so hoping to hear tonight ‘Arms Wide Open’ is next. The words are beautiful and Godfrey’s delivery of this ballad is lovely. More nimble riffs see Revill’s solo hit your eardrums with admirable clarity. I’m not the only one smiling listening to this, it really is very well performed. ‘Unbreakable’ has a very American rock vibe to it and some nice country rock echoing riffage thrown in. It isn’t in my top tracks of theirs but it is well performed.
‘Live & Die’ and the harder rock is back with this one. The song-writing has definitely developed with these tracks from the new album. A fuller sound, a subdued energy to the delivery and a lovely dark grimy undercurrent. ‘Better Days’ from ‘Speedway’ has me well happy, a great song and one which shows the musicality of the band with layers of guitars, a thud running through and some noodling solos all shrouded in a melodic vocal with no acrobatics or tricks, just a good enjoyable song.
‘Best Of Me’ allows Godfrey to lead the track with his soaring vocal. A slower pace and chugging bassline hits full in the gut through the stacks. This was the best song on the first album for me and I really enjoyed hearing it live. ‘Kickin’ Up Dust’ is a strong rock track and one which has the audience bouncing along – impossible to stand still with something so catchy and well played. It became the signature track of the set lists around the first album and rightly so. A great way to finish a really enjoyable evening.
The only disappointment of the night was certainly not the band, not the music, not the venue, not the quality of the sound but the lack of people! Where is everyone, it’s a Saturday night, the tickets are ridiculously cheap, the venue has loads of parking, public transport links, great beers, pleasant staff and a really, really good band on the stage and is half full if that!
The Blood Red Saints should be playing to a room full of people. They are good, the music is tremendously good and front man Pete Godfrey is brilliantly entertaining, a natural comic with a quick-witted humour but more importantly a really cracking voice. All the songs on the set list were played brilliantly well, these guys are experienced musicians and seem to have an affinity with each other that comes from a genuine appreciation of each others talents and abilities.
Come out, support live music and these amazing local live music venues. Support great rock music, bring friends and family!
Please check out the band, go and see them when you can and buy their music. Find out more from Blood Red Saints on the following links:
Blood Red Saints are:
Pete Godfrey - Vocals
Rob Naylor - Bass
Lee Revill - Lead guitar
Andy Chemney - Drums
Neil Hibbs - Guitar
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