(Photo Credits: Graham Webb)
Tonight we lay witness to three bands. A virgin band on the Robin 2 stage, a rather strange band that was full of noise but lacking in music, and a band that are so very endearing that I feel like I should be sat around a fire sharing stories and whiskey with them as friends.
The venue is quiet to start with, barely a handful of people are sat at the tables that line the walls as we unpack our equipment and I pull out my notebook ready and waiting in anticipation of the first band. Its not long before they take to the stage on this very warm 3rd of July and it’s a band that have never before graced the stage of the Robin 2 with their presence. The Hand and the Flowers, a quartet from Birmingham, are Robin 2 virgins and I have to say they look a little jittery. Maybe its the lack of a crowd that has them unnerved? Either way, for a band that has been around since 2012 I would assume they are more than stage ready and should have honed their stage presence by now, surely?. Sadly, they seem rather static during their set and I can't help thinking that a little bit of movement from them would greatly improve their performance. Yet, despite their rigidity, the music that ensues is pretty good. I'm tapping my pen on my paper as I jot down notes and my foot is bouncing along to the country blues style rock that is eminating from the stage. Great vocals from Gareth Williams and some great rhythm in their songs, it's just a pity that they don't demand more attention with their stage presence.
Next up is Primer, another band that has been around for a long time but who don't seem to be making it anywhere near the starting blocks. They kick off their set and straight away my ear drums are blasted with a barrage of sound that doesnt sound quite right. The vocals are too high pitched and the rhythm is all wrong for me. Claire (vocals) attempts to get the audience involved in the music but it seem to fall flat at every turn. I'm not a fan to be honest and, although the violinist is very talented, the combination just didn't seem to work for me. There are however some decent riffs but as a whole I didn't enjoy the set.
After a short change over and a nice glass of coke I'm sitting, eagerly awaiting the Irish trio of Crow Black Chicken to begin their set. I've been listening quite ardently to them on Spotify and I like what I hear, I'm just hoping they sound as good live. There are a few more people in the venue now, maybe 50 at most, and as Crow Black Chicken take to the stage there's a round of applause, people are actually moving out of their seats to get closer to the band which they haven't done all night. Without a word we're straight into their first song Justice, such a great tune from their new album Pariah Brothers! Straight away there are feet tapping and heads noddding in time to the beat as Christy O'Hanlan (vocals/guitar) knocks out some great riffs and vocals! He has such a great voice live, it's full of range and grit! And honestly I'm hooked! Steven McGrath really knows how to throw his bass around, and I'm mesmerised by his presence, he's energetic and he's bouncy and it's as if he's lost inside the music.
They start up the second track Rumble Shake a heavier bass track than the previous and its sounds like real dirty southern blues. Each track sounds better and better, the riffs just keep coming and im enthralled! Epitaph gives me goosebumps! It's so good and I'm just totally drawn into the rhythm of the songs. It's truly an amazing set as they play songs from their new album Pariah Brothers as well as a host of older tracks. 18 in total that consist of groove laden heavy blues, heavy basslines and slow starters that built up to amazing riffs and crashing drums from Gev Barrett while Christy's voice is hypnotic. If I had to choose a favourite song I would say it's a toss up between Epitaph and John The Revelator (the last song they played in their set)! Saying that though, their whole set is tremendous and what I find I like the most are the little anecdotes that Christy shares with the audience, tales such as hitting a dear in France enroute to the ferry which led to the writing of the song Deer Meat Unloaded , and the 44 degree heat in Texas but they had to turn off the air condtioning as it could be heard on the track, so they recorded a 'running through the gates of hell with your pubic hair on fire' edition of Jessie Mae.
These little stories really caused me to feel a strange kind of warmth to these guys, the kind of feeling you get when you are surrounded by friends sitting together sharing tales and generally just relaxing in each others company. I almost forgot I was at a gig as I felt so relaxed and it was just an absolute pleasure to be entertained by Crow Black Chicken. They are so approachable too, so if you do ever get a chance to see these guys live then do it, you won't be disappointed. Truly awesome evening! Loved every minute! I will definitely go see these guys again.