As with last year, it seems to be taking a while for both live music in York to get started and the Friday Nighters to synchronise their calendars. I haven’t seen Roj since we all went out for a meal before Christmas and tonight he had a prior engagement with Berwick Kaler’s latest pantomime, Humpty Dumpty. (I saw it before Christmas and laughed until I cried.) So, it’s just myself and Andy attending Fibbers for a bit of metal.
First to take the stage are Stealer. I failed to blog a review when we saw them at our last get-together of 2009 so they are obviously giving me a second chance fairly quickly. (There’s very few other reasons why we would pay to see a covers band.) I’ve said before that I can take or leave Stealer. It’s not that they aren’t very good, just that there is too much in their set that I don’t like. I’m not a big fan of the AC/DC style of heavy metal (all power and no style in my opinion) and in their usual two-hour set, there is too much of that for me. However, tonight, with cut down set, there was more to keep me interested, although the rendition of Whole Lot Of Rosie, with accompanying stage act, still did nothing for me. Stealer also manage to confound me by playing songs which I suspect I should know (and certainly like) but can’t work out who sang them originally.
There seemed to me to be a slight emphasis towards Southern Blues-Rock in tonight’s set, which is not surprise considering the links with Lynyrd Skynyrd tribute Aynt Skynyrd and there was a fair few songs that I didn’t recognise sprinkled in amongst the likes of Rocking In The Free World (Neil Young), Black Knight (Deep Purple) and personal favourite Won’t Get Fooled Again (The Who). It may have been the shorter set or, possibly, the fact that the venue allowed the band to open up a bit more but I enjoyed tonight’s performance more than any other time that I’ve seen the band.
An increased venue size is something that tonight’s headline band could do with, as well. In a similar way that Stealer sounded better (to me) after stepping up from pub to dedicated music venue, Morpheus Rising deserve to be playing bigger venues than we have in York in the near future. Their brand of original Heavy Metal reminds me of the days when I travelled over to Queen’s Hall in Leeds to see the likes of Ozzy, Whitesnake and Dio. This was the first time I have managed to see the band’s full set and it only confirms my suspicion that they could end up being one of my favourite local live acts.
Pete Harwood and Damien Sweeting’s twin guitar-playing is nothing short of superb, although it struck me tonight that it is Sweeting’s “extra” little harmonies (noticeable on the Original Demos EP but not picked up by me until tonight) that make some of the music that little bit special. Andy Smith’s bass-lines are strong enough to effectively punch through the soaring guitars and, while I couldn’t see him clearly, I’d be surprised if Paul Gibbons didn’t wear out a few drumsticks during the set.
Sadly, tonight, Graeme Tennick’s vocals didn’t seem to be mixed correctly and both Andy and I struggled to hear them. This may have been the old chestnut of not being overly familiar with the lyrics so failing to “hear” them but unless my memory fails me (and it sometimes does) they were a lot clearer at The Duchess last year. What Graeme did excel at tonight, however, was commanding the stage. Whether wielding the microphone, air-guitaring alongside Pete and Damien or conducting the rest of the band, his performance was immense. For some reason, tonight’s audience seemed a little reticent to move up to the stage – I was probably standing no further forward than I usually do at Fibbers but was pretty much at the front of the crowd (except for the Morphettes dancing at the very front). Obviously aware of this fact (the distance to the crowd, not that I was at the front) Graeme took it upon himself to bring his performance to the audience. Not that he left the stage (well, actually, he did vault the barrier at the start of Fighting Man) but he did spend a lot of time at the very periphery.
Vocals apart, this was a superb performance. Songs I had heard before, such as Lord Of The North, Brave New World, Save The Day, Fighting Man and (personal favourite) Those Who Watch mixed with lesser-known ones such as Quench Your Thirst (and with that my memory does indeed fail me…) I couldn’t help but raise a wry smile when, at the beginning of Fighting Man, Damien struck the same pose as he does on the song’s video – I wonder whether that will be seen as an iconic Morpheus Rising pose.
(Hmm, just had another thought… Given that we started the evening with a covers band, I wonder whether one day there will be bands performing cover versions of Morpheus Rising songs…?)
I’m told an album is soon to be in the works – soon after that I can guarantee it will be in my collection.
As tonight’s acts finished, Andy and I wandered over to the Roman Bath to see whether anybody was playing there. The doorman and another punter told us that we would really enjoy Northern Glory. Well, that sold it to us so we went in. As we did so, these four young lads from Halifax were belting out The Lovin’ Spoonful’s Hot Town Summer In The City, which they followed with a set comprising of covers including This Sex On Fire (Kings of Leon) and Won’t Get Fooled Again (The Who, again) and what seemed to be their own material. At least one song, No Smoke Without Fire, was introduced as being written by them, the rest could have been covers of Indie tracks that I didn’t know (my knowledge of Indie really is very poor). This was a pretty good performance by a very young band and something different to the normal Bath fare. Dave Tracey on bass appeared to be a bit shy from where we were standing but lead singer Chris Owl used every inch of space available to him and sang with gusto. Northern Glory are definitely worth keeping an eye out for.