ASCENSION DAY 2 - The Patriot, Crumlin 08.06.19
CLAIRE HILL | NAOMI JEREMIAH | DAVID LYDIARD | FIONA DUIGNAN
PHOTO CREDITS: LINDSAY SMITH | PAUL MCGOWAN | TERRY MARLAND
After a fantastic opening night of music, ASCENSION was back in full swing with doors open at 1pm at The Patriot to receive 11 bands to play on the bill today. Our voices may have been lost somewhere along the way, but that wasn’t going to stop us enjoying the bands ahead.
CRIMSON STAR are a three-piece from Birmingham who have been together since 2012. The band’s second EP ‘Bay View’ produced the singles ‘The Pragmatist’ and ‘Gimme Some’, while their new EP, ‘The Olde Dawg’, is due to be released this summer. Heavy bass guitar is central to their hard rock sound, and the band put huge energy into their live performances.
Opening up at lunchtime on Day 2 of ASCENSION could’ve been seen as a difficult slot, but still energised from playing a gig the night before, CRIMSON STAR burst into life sounding super-tight with new drummer Chris Hopton in what was only their 2nd gig in a year!!
As we’ve previously mentioned, bass is a key component of CRIMSON STAR’s sound. The heavy thumping, chest pounding that the rhythm section deliver is mesmerising, notably on ‘Once’ with that deep, deep sliding bass part. Weighty!
‘Euthanise Me’ was a song that stood out because of its difference from the rest of the set. It was a slinky, slowed down bluesy track that we felt showcased the band’s diversity and musical talent. New song ‘The Olde Dawg’ was a punchy, heavy affair and a vehicle to showcase newbie Chris’s prowess on the drums.
Hearing set closer ‘The Pragmatist’ was exciting for this writer because ever since it was featured on Down The Front Podcast, I wanted to see if its incredible energy would translate live, and I was not disappointed.
CRIMSON STAR produced a performance with prodigious energy from start to finish. This is a band that are well worth seeing again.
Jay D Shaw - Guitar / Vocals
Ro J Ash - Bass
Chris Hopton - Drums
Harry Slater (ex-Bad Touch) has made the move from sideman to frontman with his new outfit that offers up punchy, classic rock riffs and no-nonsense rock ‘n’ roll on their EP ‘So She Said’, that has just been released.
They may have only met for the very first time and rehearsed in the week leading up to ASCENSION but SLATER play as a tight unit and sound like they've been together for years. Truly a testament to the skills of the 3 talented young men on that stage.
Great at introducing the band's melodic tunes and describing the stories behind them, Harry is a highly skilled, proficient guitarist and his vocals ebb and flow between each rising riff and singing solo. The rhythm section provides a solid backbone with driving beats from Daniel and lovely, melodic bass lines from Reuben. There is a fluidity in their individual playing which allows each instrument to come together for maximum impact as a whole.
From the beautifully sung 'I Want To Let You In' to the sublime and gorgeous acoustic 'From Home' that hypnotised the crowd, there was a youthful vulnerability that shone through. Harry said afterwards that he’d originally played ‘From Home’ at the same venue a year ago to no more than 10 people and it resonated with the crowd so much that he wanted to include it in his set again this time around. Good call.
What an incredible talented band SLATER are, which they proved on the Catfish & The Bottlemen track ‘Kathleen’, Led Zep’s ‘Good Times, Bad Times’ and their own recent single ‘She’s So Fine’, which showcased that undeniable ’60s influence.
Final track ‘Free’, is a proper rocker of a song and the jam the band did within it was a real exercise in lead guitar work. Harry has a fine vocal, which delivers on every song, but when he’s free to let loose on the fretboard, he’s an absolute rock star. If SLATER can gel as a band this well after only 1 week, it is frightening to imagine how good they could be after a couple of years together.
Harry Slater - Guitar / Vocals
Daniel Biaolla - Drums
Reuben O'Connell - Bass
Manchester based four-piece FIEFDOM are a classic hard rock band with a massive sound that is influenced by the huge bands of the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s. With high-octane vocals, big chunky riffs and booming drums and bass, the band has been performing a steady stream of live dates, treating fans to tracks from their two EPs, ‘FourPlay’ and ‘Aftershock’ which were released under the old moniker of Mouth In The South.
Piers’ vocal range is incredible and after playing both EPs to death, we needed to see if he could produce the goods live. Simply put, he does! He sounds just as good as the recorded material, which is no mean feat when you consider the notes he has to hit.
Guitarist Ashli is an accomplished player producing some electrifying shredding moments, no doubt having to up his game to keep up with the animated Chidi over on the other side of the stage. New drummer Otis, at times, looked like he was dancing behind his drum kit, such is the man’s rhythmical prowess.
It was fantastic to hear ‘Fevers Break’, which is their first new song with Otis, and the Inglorious hat tip that is ‘No Shame’ but it’s ‘Scream My Name’ that gets the biggest smile from me. That vocal - I just love it! This was the first song I’d ever heard from the then Mouth In The South and to hear it live, AND for it to sound like the record was immense!
Watching FIEFDOM is a fun experience because they are having fun themselves, and it is contagious. You cannot help but smile. From watching the guys perform on stage, it’s clear to see they’re really close. The bond they share is special and it results in a tight-knit band who are confident with their sound and are just having a good time playing together.
With promised new music to follow in the next month, we’re looking forward to this next chapter of FIEFDOMs career.
Piers Gebbia - Vocals / Guitar
Ashli Thorne - Guitar
Chidi Slater - Bass
Otis Rimmer - Drums
Musically STEAL THE CITY is a blend of the heavier, metal-inspired guitar mixed with a punk/pop-punk style. The band are currently working on a follow up to last years debut EP, 'The Time We Needed'.
Having recently parted ways with their frontman/bassist Sam, STEAL THE CITY had to rejig a couple of things with Smit moving from guitar to bass and rhythm guitarist Joe taking over the vocal duties. Having not seen the band previously I can’t comment on whether or not the change has been for the better, but I can say that I 100% enjoyed their ASCENSION performance.
Whether he wanted the job or not, there is no denying that Joe is a born frontman. His engagement and banter with the crowd cannot be faulted and there was as much laughter throughout their set as there was sensational music.
Looking every inch a cohesive unit the band delivered a fantastic performance all round with an unwavering, boundless energy. Watching Ellis on the drums is a delight, he was insane and with so much movement and kinetic energy on display, writing notes for the review became a chore because we just want to get up and party. In fact, when we have a party, you guys are coming! Book it!
We’ve mentioned in previous reviews at The Patriot that the PA system is superb so we have to give a special shout out to the heavy, meaty pounding of Smit’s bass and the chugging, palm muted riffs of the guitars. Nothing but chest rattle!
STEAL THE CITY are a seriously cool, pure fun, good time band with no ego displayed whatsoever, just pure talent and a self-deprecating humour that endeared them to The Patriot, as did the respectful shout out they gave to the 75th anniversary of D-Day.
Joe - Vocals / Rhythm Guitar
Smit - Bass
Ellis - Drums
Jake - Lead Guitar
THE STONED CROWS are a 1960’s influenced, exciting mixture of high-octane Rhythm and Blues and in-your-face rock ’n’ roll. The band are all under 21 years old and have previously recorded at the famous Sun Studios in Memphis.
Oozing a confident swagger, frontman Keaton is front and centre as he addresses the crowd, “cos, I’m a mad man, baby” and the band jump straight into set opener ‘Mad Man’, a slick, retro song straight out of Tennessee. Very stylish and pulled off with a cool, old school attitude.
Lots of new bands have classic rock influences but it’s fantastic to hear THE STONED CROWS take their different ’50s and ’60s rock n roll influences and bring them up to date. Visually and sonically it is like being taken back in time.
Playing with a ferocious intensity, this felt like an old school rock n roll show that wouldn’t feel out of place at The Grand Ol’ Opry or any rock n roll / blues bar in Nashville. Having seen them live over a year ago it was clear to us here that the band has become more close-knit and a better live band over time. Impressive guitar work layered over unrelenting drums and bass is all topped off with a great vocal from Keaton.
The band clearly take their craft seriously and have worked hard to ensure that they give a polished performance. Their infectious style and brilliant musicianship impressed the watching audience, and I’m sure they’ll be welcomed back to The Patriot with open arms.
Keaton Smout - Vocals / Guitar
Harry Chard - Bass
Enguerrand Cleron - Guitar
Bernardas Zakaras - Drums
The six-piece THE NILE DELTAS from the Midlands have been together for a little over two years and have a distinctly bluesy, Southern edge to their sound. The band released their EP ‘Life’ at the end of 2018 and Down The Front Podcast have featured numerous singles.
Crafted from years of experience combined with sheer talent and utter professionalism, the band’s live performance is an aural delight featuring a rich, multi-layered sound.
What you hear on CD is brought to life in an uplifting and cerebral way. Craig's vocals sound incredible overlaid on top of all the other instruments and, initial microphone issues aside, he delivered a superb performance that showcased his sensational voice.
The depth of sound that THE NILE DELTAS produce is dazzling. From Bruce Hartley’s bluesy bass with a touch of funk to the dual guitar attack of Nige Thompson and Tom Lord who churn out catchy, blues driven riffs that have a timeless quality to them.
A highlight for us is seeing that vintage Leslie speaker on the stage that gives Giles Minkley on keys a mellifluous edge that enhances the overall live sound.
With new music coming at the end of the year in the form of a new EP, the band played a new song ‘Don’t Go Asking Questions’ which is steeped in deep, soul groove and a powerful intensity, and again, wow! What a vocal!
All in all, this is a live set for real music fans and if you get the chance to watch THE NILE DELTAS, take it, because you’ll love it.
Bruce Hartley - Bass
Craig Blencowe - Vocals
Damon Clarridge - Drums
Giles Minkley - Keyboards
Nige Thompson - Guitar
Tom Lord - Guitar
Formed in 2014, South Devonshire trio ETHYRFIELD are last year’s winners of the Introducing Stage at Giants of Rock festival, which earned them a place on the main stage this year. Most of the band are under 18, which has its own challenges, but unquestionable evidence of their commitment to delivering on their rock/metal sound. For a band so young, the musicianship is amazing. Anyone that has seen ETHYRFIELD over the past year or so will attest to their skills. But, age doesn’t really matter because skill is skill and this is a band on their way to the top.
ETHYRFIELD positively powered through a jaw dropping set with inexorable waves of energy and a low end heavy sound. Our bones were well and truly rattled by Zach’s resonating bass. Pounding beats from phenomenal drummer Dan power all the way through, Zach's unwavering vocals are intense, even more so when joined by backing vocals from Ben where their vocal blend is reminiscent of Alice in Chains. Ben also shows us why he was a former finalist of Sky Arts Guitarist of the Year. Crowd favourites ‘Bag of Bones’ and ‘Show Me God’ come across incredibly live and we were treated to a dynamic track from new EP ‘Taurus’.
They were a band that the crowd were looking forward to seeing and the audience responded positively to what was a professional and assured delivery. Hard-hitting riffs and brutal grooves melded together to create a wall of sound leaving us all breathless and our metal needs satiated.
Zach Cornish - Bass / Vocals
Ben Cornish - Guitar / Vocals
Dan Aston - Drums
Fronted by the powerhouse rock voice of Sky Hunter, London based STONEWIRE have a variety of influences spanning a variety of genres including rock, blues, southern and even metal. They have been described as ‘heavy blues rock with a dirty Southern twist’ and the band themselves think that “sums them up quite nicely!”. This band love to play live and see the audience rocking out to their songs, and had the chance to support Michael Schenker in Sweden. Their second album is due for release later this year.
Tone and power will always be discussed with this band due to the incredible powerhouse of a frontwoman that is Sky Hunter, but do not overlook the formidable musicianship of the band as this is most definitely not a one-woman show.
Back to a 5-piece, it was great to see the band complete once again with the returning Duncan Greenway back where he belongs, ripping out killer leads. There is good humour and interaction throughout, with Sky declaring, “It’s good to be in Wales”. Sky sounds in fine form, displaying her crystal clear power pipes on tracks such as ‘Favourite Bitch’ and ‘Monkey Talk’, the latter itself being a goose-bump inducing song with the backing vocals adding a haunting depth.
STONEWIRE will hopefully be releasing new material at the end of the year, giving us a taste with ‘FDM’ which featured headbanging riffs and cool sounding melodic bass lines. Another new song was played earlier and it had, what sounded like, a Donna Summer-esque drum and bass groove behind driving rock rhythms and slide guitar licks.
The new tracks already feel like old favourites which is a good indicator that a new record should be well received by fans of the band.
Sky Hunter - Vocals
Gaz Annable - Guitar
Duncan Greenway - Guitar
Steve Briggs - Bass
Rob Glasner - Drums
Leeds based PSYCHOBABYLON are a five-piece band, who describe their sound as “a big cocktail of dirty melodic rock and roll with a metal cherry and a little punk for good measure.” Down The Front Podcast has featured several tracks from their recent EP ‘Is This All There Is?’ and with their discography going back to 2014, this experience results in epic live performances.
Energetic and expressive, PSYCHOBABYLON's live show is full of melodious songs delivered with style, showmanship and more than a touch of fun. Rusty D is a brilliant frontman with bags of personality and the musicianship of the whole band cannot be faulted in the slightest. They really gel and inject fun into everything they do.
Opening their set with ‘Hypnotiser’ we’re treated to an instantaneous, infectious energy. The bass of new member JJ cuts through and beefs up the already chunky rhythm sound that drives their hooky riffs along.
Rattling through their set of bangers, the love song that’s not a love song ‘Dark Valentine’, ‘Dead Time’ which was dedicated to our very own Naomi, and ‘All There Is’, PSYCHOBABYLON prove that they have the songs that can reel the crowd in, and the stage presence and charisma that keeps them there. Throw in a raucous cover of Backyard Babies’ ‘Heaven 2.9’ and you’ve got yourself a fun band that likes to have a party, and were born to play live.
The band have come on leaps and bounds since we first saw them at Wildfire back in 2017. They’re playing tighter and the hours spent on stage in the ensuing years honing their sound have turned them into a ferocious live act that puts on an entertaining show.
Rusty D - Vocals
John JJ Watt - Bass
Andrew Mewse - Lead Guitars
Robbie G - Rhythm Guitar
Andy Knott - Drums
THESE WICKED RIVERS are a blues influenced rock band from Derby that formed in 2014.Their two EPs ‘The Enemy’ and ‘II’ and double ‘A’ side single were well received by critics and they are regulars on Planet Rock Radio and Hard Rock Radio and were labelled ones to watch by Planet Rock.
In THESE WICKED RIVERS, the band members' personalities seem to balance each other out and this comes across in their live performance. This leaves the music to do the talking, and it's powerful stuff, understated yet utterly watchable and impeccably delivered.
‘Should’ve Known Better’ and ‘Testify’ deliver big riffs drenched in bluesy soul and catchy chorus hooks with frontman John Hartwell delivering another sublime vocal performance and guitarist Arran Day, a whirling dervish. Each note perfectly pitched, and even when saturated in delays and reverbs, they never get lost and always hit the right mark.
The rhythm section Sam Williams (bass) and Dan Southall (drums) pin down the bands heavy, bluesy sound with a resonating authority that is understated but packs a wallop. We particularly enjoyed the double kick part that Dan pulls out during the set.
Another band that teased new music on the way and new track ‘Floyd’ could well become a staple of THESE WICKED RIVERS’ set. It has all the hallmarks of their trademark sound and features a good, hooky chorus.
Lead guitarist Arran is on fire and sporting a shiny new 335 he is on incredible form. He is undoubtedly one of the best lead guitarists around at the moment.
Set closer ‘Don’t Pray For Me’ is packed with so much emotion that captivates the crowd. It elicits goose-bumps from many and each note, melody line, drum fill and guitar effect comes together to create perfection. THESE WICKED RIVERS have an exquisite ferocity and, in our opinion, they are one of the best live acts on the circuit right now.
John Hartwell - Vocals / Guitar
Arran Day - Guitar / Vocals
Sam Williams - Bass
Dan Southall - Drums / Vocals
WITCH TRIPPER released their second album, ‘I, of the Storm’ in 2018, and have been featured on several episodes of the Down The Front Podcast. The three-piece band have a gruelling schedule this year, as usual, playing festivals all over the UK, but playing is what they live for.
Loud, brash and ballsy, WITCH TRIPPER's live set is a fierce rollercoaster ride through their back catalogue. Furious riffage and guttural vocals from Richie Barlow is matched by the animalistic drumming from Gary-Eric Evans and Stoff's grinding bass. They're a pure power trio and the crowd can't get enough.
From start to finish, including an unscheduled encore(!), they are a thunder crack. Try standing still when listening to their relentless onslaught of slamming beats. We’d wager that you’d find it an impossibility.
The set is peppered with aggressive, yet engaging metal that comes off like an explosive nail bomb to the face with its groove-fuelled riffs, hard-hitting drums and pulsating bass. WITCH TRIPPER trigger your primal instincts, setting a new heartbeat to the room with a jolt through the chest.
Barlow effortlessly switches up between his growling vocals to banshee wails and back again with ease, and the effort he puts into his job is evident by the amount of sweat covering him from head to foot, literally dripping off his fingers as he tears up the fretboard.
Well known by now for their epic, energetic live shows WITCH TRIPPER, like RAVENBREED the previous night, were a great band to close out Day 2 of ASCENSION, and we look forward to catching them again very soon.
Richie Barlow - Lead Guitar / Vocals
Gary-Eric Evans - Drums
Chris Stoff - Bass
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