It’s a Wednesday and a band from my past (sort of) has caught my eye, so it’s time for a solo trip to Fibbers.
Tonight’s support bands seemed to me to be suffering from a bit of an identity crisis. First to take the stage, to somewhat muted applause, were Kiss Kiss Kill, a local band whose overall sound sounded more “punk/pop” than the “alternative rock” they bill themselves as on the above link. The trouble was they appeared just a bit too clean cut to suit the sound, apart from vocalist Grace, who could easily have modelled herself on Debbie Harry. There was quite a high degree of noise distortion through their set and, while the band is relatively new, the individual members’ histories should have meant a more polished performance than we saw tonight – songs were introduced before guitars were tuned for them and leads mysteriously parted company from microphones. There was, occasionally, some nice melodic guitar-work trying to prise its way out from behind powerful drumming. Grace’s vocals improved from an apparently nervy start and, overall, the set improved as it went on. For me, the best song was Shake Down, although the final song (and Grace’s favourite) was the best vocally. Reception to the band remained ambivalent through the set but I suspect they might have got more plaudits on a different bill. There’s a germ of a decent band here, they just weren’t what most of tonight’s gig-goers were looking for.
Raw Deal, on the other hand, sounded more like the classic heavy metal that they bill themselves as, but at least some members of the band adopt a more punk-like image. This was a more polished and energetic performance, although the vocals, by diminutive Steph (a.k.a. Pixie) weren’t quite as clear as those of Kiss Kiss Kill, as they were drowned out a little by the guitars. The music did fit the bill a bit more, though and songs such as Catch Me and Godspeed (I think that was the title, anyway) were excellent. Again, there was good, if over loud, use of guitar and, for a change, the drumming wasn’t too intrusive.
I was a mere youngster, still at school, when the original New Wave of British Heavy Metal was at its peak. I don’t remember hearing anything by Tygers of Pan Tang, although I’m fairly certain that at least one of my friends had one of their albums, but the name has stayed with through the intervening years. (Indeed, I was suddenly reminded of them last year, when I read Michael Moorcock’s Elric Stories while on holiday – the band took their name from a group of chaos-worshipping warriors in said stories.) The band,originally from Whitley Bay, have now been going for over thirty years and the current line-up boasts just one original member (Robb Weir on guitar) and a singer from Italy in the form of Jacopo Meille. Apart from those two members, the rest only date back to the 2000 reformation instigated by Weir. They play exactly what it says on the tin – heavy metal in the classic late 70’s, 80’s style and, while the set featured songs from the latest album, Animal Instinct, a lot of material was taken from Wild Cat and Spellbound, the band’s first two albums. Screaming guitar solos, guitar duets, the audience being “machine-gunned” by guitars and microphone stand and Meille’s fantastically powerful and rangy voice, transported me back to a time when my gig venues were the likes of Queen’s Hall in Leeds. (Sadly, Ronnie James Dio, whose band was either the second or third I ever saw at that venue, lost his battle with cancer this week.)
I didn’t recognise any of the songs until the encore, which started with Love Potion Number 9. It might be a cover version but my fading memory also thinks that it might be the Tygers’ most famous song. (A bit of personal trivia – this set also included, albeit briefly, the first “talk box” I have ever seen used.) The band’s member might be getting on a bit now, even if they weren’t there from the beginning, but they certainly put out a superb set and put on a fantastic show.