(PHOTO CREDITS: FLAMING PINT PHOTOGRAPHY (NEIL JACKSON))
Having just reviewed the new album, I'm excited for this. I arrive at the venue and it's a little empty but it's early, and it's bloody freezing #hatandcoatweather . The band does a soundcheck and its sounding epic - a great venue for sound. Slight problem with the sound-guy not telling the band themselves what time they’re on but otherwise all good. At 9.30 Firegarden take to the stage. Now, I've followed these guys for a while now and always loved their sound and the new album is no exception - I can't wait for the release so I can get the cd for my car, my favourite only after Stone Broken at the moment. If you read my album review, I gave a brief history of the band but basically they've been around a while, with the first female vocalist joining last summer. This brings a new dimension to the band and amplifies the talent already there. It may also mean that new people will discover the band as their new stuff is released and they perform live across the country.
Back to the gig. Jake has his best trousers on, Adele looks hot, while Ashley has his woolly hat on and Chris isn't wearing those dodgy web-toed shoes he often wears. The Firegarden signs are emblazoned across the stage, the lighting looks great and the sound is amazing as they launch straight into stuff from the new album. The audience receives this well, not quite a crowd but the place certainly isn't empty and the band aren't fazed. They are on top form as they belt out ‘Crabs’, ‘Mountain’, ‘Shoot for the Moon’, ‘Incomplete’ and more from the new album, released next month, with massive smiles and a wicked vitality. Jake and Adele tear through the vocals, each offering a different sound but blending well together. Adele is a powerhouse female vocalist with a great range - including some real high notes! Jake's vocal is a more gritty, husky, sexy sound. If you’re familiar with the band at all, you'll know that they are epic musicians and each one is on top of their game tonight.
Chris is rocking the life out of that bass and Ashley is beating the shit out of the drums. Jake delivers some really tricky finger-work on lead guitar, including some amazing covers of Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, Dio, Rainbow and Judas Priest classics. I'm surprised when Chris, normally backing vocals, takes the lead on ‘Holy Diver’ and ‘Breaking the Law’ and, man, he is great!
There is the obligatory drunk falling off his chair, and even a topless woman who clearly misread Firegarden for Steel Panther, the toilets are manky as usual, and the lights over the pool table were a distraction to my right, but I couldn’t knock the venue otherwise. Apart from the arctic climate. As the night got later, the place began to fill and the mixed audience - old, young, drunk, sober, working, retired, or 'between jobs' - are loving it and I think there'll be a few new fans after tonight. Pensioners do the horns and young lads applaud the sheer talent of the musicians on stage, covering classics they know well and new songs that they take straight to their hearts. The band do a long set with a short break in the middle. I could've carried on but I guess they need a break.
Their collective love of classic rock and especially Deep Purple is evident throughout, in the covers they choose and the new tracks, which is lapped up by the audience. Their cover of ‘Burn’ is one of the best I've heard, and I love ‘Smoke on the Water’, Jake doing vocals on both and showing he remains a vocal master as well as an epic guitarist. Jake nailed the guitar solo of ‘Highway Star’, and they led from ‘Black Night’ into some Rainbow. Delicious. Of their own tracks, I think my favourites at the moment are ‘Crushed’ (those vocals! #swoon), ‘Pigeons’ and ‘Incomplete’ - and this doesn’t change after seeing them live tonight. ‘Pigeons’ is a musical masterpiece, pure unadulterated joy for any fan of good guitar-led music. They didn’t lose the audience on either ‘Pigeons’ or ‘Incomplete’, despite both being really long tracks, almost 9 minutes long. They are on fire! The audience beg for more at the end, after more than 2 hours, and they give a rousing rendition of ‘Mad Queen’.
The only constructive criticism I have is that they could use Adele more on stage, as the vocals are shared and Jake leads on many tracks she could do backing vocals, or maybe group the songs together into sub-sets for each lead vocalist. Regardless, this is a band you must listen to, and if possible see live, at least once. You will not regret it. I'm amazed they aren't already snapped up by some big label, there is so much talent. The album is released next month and I'll be at the launch show 17th March in Sheffield.
Rock is far from dead. Support live bands and local music venues.
Jake Mann - Guitar and Vocals
Chris Heald - Bass and Backing Vocals
Ashley Tuck - Drums
Adele Louise - Vocals
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