After a recent couple of quiet acoustic gigs, tonight it’s time for a bit of loud metal goodness as I meet up with Roj and Lynn to finally catch up with a band that Roj has recommended a few times.
When I arrived, Fibbers looked packed and it was four deep at the bar – a good sign as gigs in York rarely come close to selling out and a big crowd is, generally, a prediction for a good gig. I was, however, a little surprised by the amount of tattoos on view, mostly on young women. We took up position towards the back, not the best place to experience bands but probably a lot less sticky than being at the front, given the heat.
First to take the stage was Frantic Alice, an energetic four-piece from Milton Keynes. Although showing nice use of various fringes as elaborate head-banging accessories and some potentially excellent, although swamped by the rhythm section, guitar solos, I’m afraid they didn’t do too much for me. Vocally, they were just the wrong side of shouty, not hiding their punk influences at all. Frontman Jakk Spence’s frequent use of the f-word got a little irritating at times – I’m not averse to swearing, but he just went a bit too far. Their songs, however, were different enough from each other to keep the set varied and, even from the back, Spence’s vocals were clearer than some bands we have seen. Would I pay to see them again, probably not, but only because they weren’t my “thing”.
The Fallen are a twin-guitar five piece from York who I haven’t come across before. That’s a shame, really, as I enjoyed this set a lot more than the first (despite the somewhat 80’s styles on show from some members of the band. Headbands? Eye-liner?? Really…?) A more generic style of rock, their best song tonight was the melodic Ghosts, which wasn’t actually representative of the rest of their output. Johnny Fallen’s vocals were less clear, but more powerful than those of Spence and the songs a little less varied but, when something sounds good, why vary it too much? An entertaining, if no brilliant set, and I particularly liked the synchronised headbanging.
We did move forwards a bit for Heaven’s Basement, finding a clear area about halfway closer to the stage and positioning ourselves for what would turn out to be an assault on the eardrums… In a good way. Normally a five piece, but tonight down to four due to one guitarist breaking his finger playing football and with a stand-in vocalist after the departure of Richie Heavenz in February. (I’m a little unclear who the vocalist was – the paragon of truth that is Wikipedia states James Sinclair, but HB’s own pages say they are still auditioning. Johnny Fallen, of the Fallen is mentioned as touring with them but I think that was earlier in the year.) Anyway, opening with a machine-gun like drumbeat, HB certainly entertained for their all too short set. For me, Sorry was their best track, while hard-hitting Paranoia featured the broken-fingered guitarist and Never Gonna Stop (at least, I think that was the title) showed the band are just as good with the slower numbers. Being one guitar down didn’t seem to hamper the band – this was a full-throttle performance and one of the best rock acts I’ve seen for a while during an, overall, entertaining evening.