Faraday Concept – The Duchess, 02/03/12

After last week’s gig, over a quick pint before heading off home, Andy and I were bemoaning the apparent lack of the “four bands for a few quid” gigs that were so prevalent a few years ago, back when I first started taking an interest in the local music scene. So, it was with a modicum of relief that I realised that tonight gave us the opportunity to attend just such a gig, even if Andy was slightly put off to read that the bands involved were all some ort of heavy metal. I prefer gigs where the bands share at least some musical attributes – for one thing it means that the audience are more likely to stick round for the full gig rather than turn up for the band they may know and leave when the next band takes to the stage.

First up tonight were Rugosa, hailing from Halifax and comprising of Nicola Rainford (vocals), Jonathan Burr (keyboards), Stuart Moxon (bass, vocals), Thomas Riley (guitar) and Jamie Abbott (drums). Their short but impressive set included four original songs and two covers – Iron Maiden’s Trooper and Manowar’s Thor. For once we saw a band who didn’t allow the drums to overpower the music. In fact they were at times quite understated for a rock band. The first song, which I don’t remember being introduced, contained some nice guitar work but didn’t bode well for Nicola as her vocals were a little drowned out and strained. That was to change during the much heavier From The Shadows which included a well-balanced mixture of Nicola’s much clearer vocals and death growls courtesy of Stuart. The latter led to a post set discussion on the merits of the vocal style after which Andy, who is very much not a fan, admitted that they worked well in this song. Shadows also included more prominent keyboards, giving a more prog-metal sound reminiscent of Dream Theatre. Revolution had a pounding bass-line and very slick keyboards to guitar switch in it’s mid-section but the band really seemed to hit their stride with Within, with Nicola enthusiastically trying to get the crowd involved. Trooper had appeared in the middle of the set and Thor ended it, with the song’s challenging vocals providing us with Nicola’s best performance of the set. It’s a shame it had to end there, as the band seemed to be just warming up. Hopefully, we’ll see them back in York (and higher up the bill) soon.

As Dimension took to the stage, I realised that I had seen them before. (So much for research – I had thought all tonight’s bands were new to me.) When I saw them at the end of 2011, I noted that the band members seemed to be forever wandering about the stage tuning each others instruments. Tonight saw a much slicker performance but, sadly, one still lacking a bit of individuality between songs and, because of that, suffering a bit in comparison to tonight’s openers. As with last time, I struggled to hear some of the song introductions (and, it has to be said, vocals) but the hint of promise that was apparent then is starting to bloom a bit more. I vaguely recognised some of the songs from last time, although the second song of tonight’s set, which saw an abrupt change in style in the middle, was introduced as a new one. One Last Chance includes a nice guitar riff and Take Me Away, with its much slower opening, hints at the individuality I would like to see. It’s not that the songs aren’t different, as evidenced by the more “indie” sound of Miles Away, it’s just that they take a “wall of sound” approach throughout, with short (if any) solos not really breaking them up. The band ended their set with their best song which included a number of time changes and multi-vocals and further evidencing that the band are capable of much more than the rest of the set promises. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I don’t like Dimension, or think that they are (ahem) one dimensional. It’s more that I think they could be better.

When Andy and I were having the aforementioned discussion about death growls, we had no idea what was to be in store from Terra Omnia. A York-based band, they started their set with four members on the stage – Carl Barker (guitar), Shaun Wainman (guitar), David Walmsley (drums) and Imogen Galloway (bass) producing a wonderfully dark, doom-laden and melodic piece of music. Uniformly dressed in black the band had a well-defined image and things looked promising for the first few minutes. Then Fran Klempner arrived to take up the microphone and any hopes of me being able to produce an objective review went out of the window. I’m afraid that, despite the music, the vocals meant that there was no chance I was going to like this performance. We’ve all heard of “screamo” but a more accurate term for this band would be “grunto” or, perhaps, “cougho” as despite a few instances of a lighter touch, including when Fran was speaking between songs, most of the vocals just sounded like guttural grunts, prompting Andy to, at one point, comment that it was like listening to something from Jurassic Park. There was a lot of metal posturing from the musicians but Fran seemed to have worked herself up for tonight’s performance by perfecting the art of looking either as though she wanted to be somewhere else – anybody that is old enough to remember Kevin Turvey would have recognised her surly look – or that she had a headache (as opposed to giving me one). Despite my opinion, Terra Omnia garnered the biggest crowd of tonight’s four bands, so they must have their fans. Unfortunately, though, the whole isn’t anywhere near my particular choice of hot drink. Sorry.

Thankfully things vastly improved again with tonight’s headliners. Faraday Concept are from York and Driffield and the line-up is Rich Weston (drums), Alan Oakden (bass), Ollie Brant (guitar) and Samantha Cox (vocals). Cox has a great voice, a slightly enigmatic aura and a dress-style that brings to mind what Stevie Nick could have looked like in a heavier band. Great use of lighting gave her a washed out, mysterious look while emphasising her lipstick to give her a vampirish look, while the rest of the band almost seem to disappear into the background. Opening with a heavy drum and bass line before adding guitar and, finally, vocals, the band had me hooked from the start while the second song contained echoing guitars and more strong, if slightly indistinct (the bane of a lot of bands) vocals. Again song introductions were hard to hear, one particularly being drowned out by the Alan’s bass, but those that I did pick out were Seasons Of.. something and Game Of Fools, with its doom-laded instrumental leading into crashing guitars. Despite Samantha’s excellent vocals throughout, it was only the last song of the set, with it’s lovely change of pitch, that finally showed, if briefly, exactly what a femme-fronted band are capable of. Overall, this was a return to the individuality, inventiveness and slight progginess that had been lacking since Rugosa left the stage. Recommended.

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About Ian

Regular gig-goer in York, both to see local and touring bands. Huge music fan, with more CDs than my wife thinks any one person should own. I also collect American comics, read a lot of SF and fantasy and am a season-ticket holder at Leeds United.
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