MICHELLE FLYNN (PHOTO CREDITS: LINDA FLYNN)
Before the music got underway, Adrian Garcia, Head of the Black Dog Campaign at SANE gave a brief overview of the outreach services provided by SANE as a way to get people to talk about mental health issues, and also his own experience of dealing with personal tragedy in his family at the hands of a mental health condition. This set the tone for the evening's event.
The first band of the evening were Voodoo Six, a 5-piece rock band from London. Due to other commitments, the full band were not able to appear tonight, but Nik Taylor-Stoakes (Vox) and Matt Pearce (guitar) still wanted to do something to help the charity and so for one night only, they had decided to perform an acoustic set as Voodoo Two. They performed a set with a good mix of their back catalogue as well as The Choking and Electric from their new album Make Way For The King which is available now. Taking hard rock tracks and performing them acoustically without losing any of the original meaning behind the songs is a difficult thing to achieve, but Nik and Matt pulled it off; I have never heard an acoustic set sound so full and rich. The finished their set with a touching performance of The Waiting in tribute to Tom Petty.
Cairo Son, the band behind tonight's event took to the stage all wearing SANE t-shirts to once again highlight the cause. Cairo Son are a 3-piece band based in London whose sound is deep, dark, and emotionally hard hitting. This was certainly the case with the tracks they had chosen for their set, which included emotive tracks such as Devils Tongue, Lost In The Shadow, and Give Me Strength. Enrico (guitar) and Ed (drums) add depth and intensity to Magdy's touching and haunting vocal delivery. This was never more evident than during My Brain. Magdy introduced this track by explaining the reason behind him wanting to organise this event and spoke about how he also suffers with his mental health. At this point, someone in the audience shouted out “who doesn't?”; probably one of the most accurate heckles in history. This rendition of My Brain was so emotionally charged that I struggled to listen and needed to distract myself. I took the opportunity to have a quick scan of the room and it was encouraging seeing such a diverse crowd; a reminder that mental health issues are not restricted to any particular demographic, it crosses all boundaries. This was my first time seeing Cairo Son live and I can't wait to see them again.
Mete Ege's London Blusion, featuring guest musicians were a late addition to the bill, and exciting for me as I had never come across them before. Featuring guest musicians for this appearance, London Blusion somehow manage to blur the lines between blues, jazz, and funk, and add in a bit of slide guitar. This definitely got the crowd moving and I don't think I've ever heard such a unique mix of sounds that managed to perfectly complement each other. There were funky blues riffs galore, husky vocals, swathes of groove, a good measure of southern soul, and a combination of jazz/funk keys. Magdy from Cairo Son joined them on stage for a duet; Mete taught him guitar at the age of 14 and is one of his heroes. This was a very touching moment as you could see the bond the two had. The highlight of the set for me was the instrumental tribute to Jimi Hendrix. The enigmatic Mete gave a master class in how to hold a crowd's attention during an instrumental performance; I could not keep my eyes off him, his playing is hypnotising. If you ever get a chance to see London Blusion, you really should.
If you like your southern rock Blackberry Smoke style, then Jawbone are a band you should check out. They were another band appearing tonight that I had not encountered before, but my ears were very pleased to meet their acquaintance. Paddy Milner (keys/vox), Marcus (Guitar) and Rex (bass) produce harmonic vocals that would be completely at home in Tennessee. A couple of tracks about London, Rolling On The Underground in particular, serve to remind you that this band is in fact British. They further mix things up by dropping some funky keyboard work into Get What You Deserve, Family Man has a full on funk groove, while When Your Gun Is Loaded has a more classic blues vibe. The way they mix the sounds keeps the set fresh throughout the set. They were having a ball up on the stage while people in the crowd were ballroom dancing.
The final act of the night were Romances, a 5-piece band who take the classic rock vibe and give it a distinctly modern twist. The crowd didn't take long to react to the more upbeat mood and were soon making full use of the dance floor. Jesse Smith not only possesses an amazing vocal range but can also switch between heavy and powerful, and soft and gentle, fluidly. Chris and Ashby combine riffs and licks, giving the music fullness, while Alex (drums) and Souf (bass) give the rhythm depth. How Can I Be Dead lulls you in with its gentle vocals and comforting melody before hitting you with gritty guitars and then taking it to another level with an almost thrash like bridge; this worked perfectly in the live setting. Jesse is a fantastic frontman, coming into his own when he put the guitar to one side; elegantly emphasising the lyrics with hand and arm movements. The band as a whole totally engaged with the crowd throughout the set and even though this was only their second show in London, a large proportion of the crowd were familiar with them and this is certainly another band that I'm looking forward to seeing again. Their latest single, Silence, was sublime live and if you are a lover of the classic rock style, I would strongly recommend checking it out.
This event was a complete success, raising much needed funds for SANE and showcasing new bands who want to make a difference to something as important as mental health.
Details of the services provided by SANE can be found here.
**PHOTOS ARE NOT TO BE USED WITHOUT THE PRIOR CONSENT OF LINDA FLYNN PHOTOGRAPHY / DOWN THE FRONT MEDIA**