Michelle Flynn (Photo Credit: Linda Flynn)
For those who aren’t aware, Mount Holly are an alternative rock band from Southern California comprising of Jameson Burt on vocals, Nick Perri on guitar, Deanna Passarella on bass, and John Bach on drums. This was the first appearance of the full Mount Holly quartet in the UK and the small intimate setting of The Water Rats was perfect for such an occasion. Fans had been gathering in the bar before the venue doors opened and were in good spirits. I have to say at this point that it was refreshing to see the band members happy to chat to their waiting fans as they walked through the bar; the mutual respect between bands and their fans is something that I love to see.
The waiting fans filtered through as doors opened and within a few minutes, it became apparent that Mount Holly have already amassed some hardcore fans and a lot of them were in London tonight! People stood close to me, who had attended last year’s promo tour with Jameson and Nick, were hyped to see the full band. I personally was only aware of Nick’s early work with Shinedown and had also seen him perform with Dee Snider, so was looking forward to seeing him live again with this band.
The lights dimmed and Nick, Deanna and John entered the stage to loud cheers, closely followed by Jameson. The bluesy opening riff to Give Me A Sign filled the room and as the vocals kicked in, Burt’s voice completely knocked me for six. Not only is his voice incredibly powerful, he also has an amazing range and a beautiful tone. This was especially noticeable later on in the set when they played Playing Dead, a number that invoked all manner of emotions in me.
Far too often, the bassist and drummer fade into the background providing the rhythm for the other band members, but not in this band. Deanna wealds that bass with the same gusto as most lead guitarists and this can be heard on every number. She has an amazing stage presence and she and Nick bounce off each other with ease, particularly during their guitar duets, which were spellbinding to watch. Nick’s guitar playing added light and shade to the numbers and his solos were mesmerising. Similarly, John’s drum work formed an integral part of the tracks giving the live experience amazing depth. Nick delighted the audience by walking amongst them during one of his solo performances; had the crowd turned back towards the stage as I did, they would have seen Deanna totally owning that space.
All the tracks played during the main set were from the band’s upcoming debut album Stride By Stride and would not have been particularly well known to those present, however this did not deter them from joining in. The crowd had been vocal throughout the show, cheering, stamping their feet and singing the opening hook to Stride By Stride every time there was a break between songs. The band genuinely appreciated this, with Bach adding his kick drum to the foot stomping beat before they launched into Burning In Colour, another track where the guitars of Perri and Passarella combine beautifully.
My standout track of the night was Given What You Want, a beautifully melodic track that slowly draws you in before the power of Jameson’s voice erupts to combine with the guitars and hits you straight in the stomach. If you listen to music with your emotions like I do, this one will get you.
They finish the main set with their new single Get Up, which is the catchiest number of the night and it’s easy to see (or hear) why it was chosen to be used on the NHL Network this season. It really is a feel good song that you can’t help singing along to. As the band left the stage, the crowd burst into chants of ‘Mount Holly’ as they waited for them to return for the encore. When the band returned to the stage, there was no need for them to announce the song they would be singing, the crowd had been waiting for it all night. Jameson stepped up to the mic and said “We’re not singing the chorus, it’s all down to you” and the crowd did not disappoint as the whole room erupted and bounced to Stride By Stride.
Overall, this was a gig that really did have it all. Mount Holly play ‘as a band’, they certainly weren’t just going through the motions and this gives a really visual performance. Their energy levels did not drop throughout the set and neither did the crowd’s. Another thing that particularly appealed to me is that there was no limelight shone on one individual and they all blew me away in equal measures.
The new single Get Up is going to be featured on Now That’s What I Call Music 62 due to be released on 5th May; there is a sneak peak of it HERE. The band’s debut album Stride By Stride is due to be released this summer, and based on this live performance, will definitely be added to my music collection!