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TEN, SERPENTINE, WHITE WIDDOW
Yardbirds Club, Grimsby 27 May 2012
established festivals, the touring climate is an unfavourable one for
melodic rock bands, and it is small wonder that most of the new releases
in the genre are purely studio products.
credit must go for a trio of old and new bands to head round the country
on a tour bus for a series of live dates. With no dates in the south and
thanks to the hospitality of like minded friends, I headed up on an away
gig of my own to catch them at the Yardbirds club in Grimsby, which for
a small venue off the beaten track is attracting an impressive roster of
White Widdow opened with an all too short 35 minute set, equally
balanced between their 2010 debut which was my album of that year and
the follow up Serenade.
Nights' got the set off to a typically rousing start, showcasing their
infectious blend of up tempo AOR straight out of 1985.
Almanzi’s guitar and the keyboards of Xavier Millas complement each
other perfectly on songs like One More Day. 'We’ve Got the Wings to Fly'
reminded me of early Danger Danger, which may be an apt comparison as
singer Jules Millas shares Ted Poley’s preference for placing stage
moves and enthusiasm above the requirement for vocal perfection.
Hearts Won’t Last Forever', with the best live 'who-oah’ chorus this side
of Tyketto’s Wings, left me and others wanting more.
youngsters Serpentine get better every time I see them and it is
also heartening to see them seemingly reduce their reliance on samples.
rather out of place boy band haircut, the helium voiced Matt Black is an
engaging frontman, and Chris Gould may have a Zakk Wylde patented
guitar, but his solos are slick melodic bliss.
'Deep Down' from their second release 'Living and Dying in High Definition',
they too mixed new material with that from the 'Touch of Heaven' debut,
with the super smooth 'Lonely Nights', 'Let Love Rain Down' and the title
track all impressing.
'Philadelphia', from the follow up, is swiftly establishing itself in my
mind as one of the classic AOR songs of the modern era, while 'Dreamer'
takes the band in a slightly harder direction.
reservation is that many of the songs end up sounding very similar.
Finishing up with their first single 'Whatever Heartache', Serpentine are
shaping up very nicely and I would love to see them get the
opportunities to showcase their talents to the modern day rock audience.
Ten were the great white hopes back in the late nineties, when
almost singlehandedly their grandiose sounds flew the flag for a very
underground melodic rock scene, emerging blinking from the wilderness
despite headlining virtually every Gods festival, they never matched
their success in Japan at home, and singer and prolific songwriter Gary
Hughes gradually seemed to lose interest with touring extremely rare and
albums sneaking out with little publicity.
the back of a partial return to form in new album Stormwarning, Gary is
on the road again with trademark curls restored and with long-time
lieutenants rhythm guitarist John Halliwell and bassist Steve McKenna,
plus three new members, who the cramped Yardbirds stage could barely
voice has always been an acquired taste, but perfectly suited the opener
Endless Symphony, which did what it says on the tin. It was great to
hear old favourites such as Spellbound, with its Still of the Night
inspired riffing, the bombastic epic ten Fathoms Deep, and After the
Love Has Gone, which used to fill the dance floor at Maximes melodic
rock night in Wigan back in the day.
was the new material that actually now sounded better live including the
super smooth Hourglass and the Landslide and Book of Secrets, which
rocked with a strong hook.
acapella intro from Gary, the Lizzy-inspired celtic feel of Red saw the
band hitting their heaviest groove, before closing with the epic title
track from their second, and probably definitive album, from 1996, Name
of the Rose. The rapid fire two handed guitar tapping of ungainly
looking new guitarist Dan Mitchell is not to my personal style, but his
speed and technique on the solo was a thing to behold.
I would have
appreciated a set a little longer than an hour and five minutes, but it
was great to see one of my former favourite bands back in the saddle and
by the time they play Firefest in the autumn, this roadwork round the UK
will pay dividends.