ATTICA RAGE / THE PENETRATIONS - Troon Concert Hall, Troon 02.11.18
PHOTO CREDITS: GAVIN ROSS PHOTOGRAPHY
Held in the Reception Room at the top of Troon Concert Hall and overlooking the beach, the room for tonight’s gig by ATTICA RAGE is a long oblong shape with chairs along 2 sides, the stage at the far end and a bar at the other. This is part of The South Beach Session, a series of gigs run by the same people who organise the amazing Winterstorm Festival each November, in the town hall adjacent to tonight’s venue.
On first look, the room is like a bowling club social room but that is where the similarity stops. This is a great little venue for the size of the crowds at these gigs.
With the addition of local celebrity, former Planet Rock and Radio Clyde DJ Tom Russell to provide the chat and music before the bands, it was shaping up to be a great night before I even entered the building.
Known as "The Godfather of Rock” Tom Russell soon had the older crowd of the evening in the mood, playing classic rock tracks from the likes of AC/DC and Dio alongside more recent bands such as The Dead Daisies. Whilst many of the newer bands whose music was played are due to appear at the Winterstorm event, it did not feel like a plug for that event which, in any case, sold out months ago.
As the time for the first band approached and, without mentioning his best- selling book about his times with famous rock bands, Russell introduced THE PENETRATIONS.
Having last seen THE PENETRATIONS live some 35 years ago it was a welcome surprise to me when I heard that they had been selected to be the support act for ATTICA RAGE.
From Ayrshire in Scotland, the band are a rock/blues covers band mixed in with some of their own material. Having supported acts such as Thin Lizzy, Alex Harvey Band, Rose Tattoo, Girl's School, Dead Ringers and the GroundHogs, the band are known as a first-rate, hard rocking act.
Not wanting to disappoint the crowd, THE PENETRATIONS give us exactly what is required with stunning renditions of Alex Harveys ‘Framed’ and well-executed covers of Hendrix’s ‘Stone Free’ and Purple Haze’ early in the set.
Originally called Buster Hymen and the Penetrations, this name was short lived as a priest at an early gig in St Joseph’s Church Hall in my home-town of Kilmarnock, cut the first 2 words off all the tickets with scissors as the crowd entered the hall.
The years fall away from these ageing rockers and they are as good now as they were 35 years ago when I was but a boy.
A couple of Thin Lizzy tracks do no harm to the set and ‘Rosalie’ and ‘The Rocker’ kept the pace going until the end of their set which was met with the well-deserved applause it had worked towards.
I ended up chatting to a young girl of 19 years of age whose father is the bass player with THE PENETRATIONS and, on being told that I had seen them 35 years ago, she asked me if they were a big band back then. With the memories of 35 years ago coming back to me I smiled and simply said, yes. I think it made her night, it certainly made mine.
Geordie - Vocals
Paul - Guitars
Stu - Bass
Dino - Drums
The credentials ATTICA RAGE have acquired over their 15-year career are to be envied by many larger bands. Having played at Bloodstock Open Air, Download, Hard Rock Hell, Hammerfest and High Voltage. They have been on the same bill as Slayer, Anthrax and Judas Priest, together with support slots for Saxon, Testament, Iced Earth, Skindred and Iron Maiden's Steve Harris’ British Lion. I ask myself the question, why it has taken me so long to see this band live again?
In fairness, I have seen ATTICA RAGE live once before, back at Winterstorm in 2017 where they played on the main stage, albeit with a slightly different line-up with the addition of Lawrence O’Brien as the new guitarist having taken place in the last few months.
Hailing from Glasgow, Scotland, the band are a 4-piece juggernaut of hard rock music and a style that makes them instantly likeable as a live act and as people. Taking to the stage the crowd are ready for this. A minor technical hitch sorted, the sound this band produces is clear and loud, but thankfully not deafening for the older amongst us in the crowd.
Choosing to open with ‘Killer Carousel’ from the 2012 album ‘88MPH’ and immediately following it with ‘El Chupacabra’ from their latest release, ‘Warheads Ltd’, the band could not have chosen a better combination of pounding drums, raging guitars and bass, complete with a great vocal performance to grab the attention of the crowd.
From the very start, the music is clear and precise with head-banging and the resulting flying hair of bassist Matthew Ward and Guitarist Lawrence O’Brien, only adding to the visual and audible spectacle of lead vocalist and guitarist Jonny Parr. That is not to leave out the rock-solid drumming of Richie Rage who keeps the pace of the music going perfectly in time as any good drummer should.
With a clear look of enjoyment on the faces of all 4 musicians, they are quick to introduce the new boy, guitarist O’Brien, who has already left us in no doubt as to how good a player he is. The name Lawrence O’Brien is already known to many, having recently taken over guitar duties with another well-known Glasgow band - Anchor Lane.
There is little doubt in O’Brien’s playing ability as riff after riff and solo after solo throughout the tracks with Parr and O’Brien complimenting each-others playing style perfectly.
It would be remiss of me not to acknowledge that bassist Ward is also well known being the bassist with another upcoming band from Scotland, Mason Hill.
As tracks encompassing the bands long and illustrious career are played, it is hard to single out any particular one as the absolute standout as they are all so well written and executed. If forced to choose, it would have to be ‘Long Ride Home’ from their ‘88MPH’ album. The track’s opening solo transforms in to a Whitesnake style vocal, the intertwined guitars reminiscent of the heady days of their 80’s highs before the main solo takes us off on a musical journey that is up with some of the best solos I have heard for some time.
By the time the band play ‘Back To The Old School’ from the ‘Road Dog’ release, it is clear we are witnessing an exhibition of true skill and a style honed over the length of their career which is paying off for the band in their live performances.
Finishing their set with ’36 Insane’ from their latest release and revisiting the ‘88MPH’ release again for ‘Beyond Forever’, the band take in their very well-deserved applause as they leave the stage.
In summary, this was a great gig by bands who straddle over 50 years of live performances and it goes to show that, young or old, live rock music is a great way to spend a night out. The bonus is a good venue with good lighting and great organisation behind the final product.
Jonny Parr - vocals, guitar
Richie Rage - drums
Matthew Ward - bass
Lawrence O'Brien - guitar
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