Dead Heroes Club

Venue : The House of Progression at The Peel, Kingston-upon-Thames
Date : Saturday 30 January 2010
Date of writing this review : 7 February 2010
There is an interesting mix at the House of Progression gigs at The Peel these days, even without counting what goes on in the bar next door, and it was no exception when Dead Heroes Club came to town.  Of course there are Twang and Mick, but also regulars like RobH and David, Peter, regulars like Bo who are also photographers, newcomers who appear to be turning into regulars like the Amazing Wilf from The Dividing Line, and Steve and Liz from European Klassik Rock radio, and then the celebrity side of prog, tonight in the form of Simon Godfrey, Paul Worwood and Robert Ramsay from the excellent band, Tinyfish.  And they have good reason to turn out tonight as Dead Heroes Club are over from the Walled City of Derry in Northern Ireland on the back of both their excellent album A Time Of Shadow and signing with ProgRock Records.
They come on to the stage and guitarist Gerry McGerigal is going to have to sit throughout because he has broken his right leg and is in a cast and on crutches.  As with the album A Time Of Shadow, they open with Theatre Of The Absurd, Chris Norby’s keyboards flooding in, Mickey Gallagher kicking hard on the drums and Wilson Graham’s bass thumps.  The guitar runs away as the keyboards swirl, before the sound settles and it flows along melodic with the keyboards rippling.  Liam Campbell comes on to the stage and his strong, distinctive vocals sing through the sound they have built up.  It eases along gently with the full, rounded sound matching up very nicely with the full, melodic vocals.  This is a band who very clearly know their own ‘sound’.  The guitar strums through as the drums drive us on through keyboard flourishes, the bass gently rolling along with it.  The vocals push through emotional, rising out as Liam drops to his knees in dramatic fashion, and the track keeps driving on.  The guitar cuts through sharp and high, circling, sustained, as the vocals push through again and it moves on, with nice backing vocals from Gerry and Wilson as it eases and then kicks on with a flourish, big keyboards coming through, the guitar racing with the keyboard sound before taking a harder edge, the bass thumps in with the drums rattling and the cymbals crashing, and it drives on still with a heavy feel, a thumping rocker.  The keyboards are flowing with guitar breaks, the cymbals crashing hard as the guitar sound develops and soars, and the track then rumbles on, hitting hard into a pause, the keyboards swirling through hard and it kicks to a close.  They continue with Feel The Dark, from their eponymous debut album, upbeat guitar strumming through as the drums kick with it, the keyboards flow and the bass rumbles, the vocals roll in and it stays upbeat as it pushes along melodic, a big rocking feel with lovely guitar flourishes, the drums driving it along hard, the vocals pushing through, emotional, full, and as the guitar circles and the cymbals tap, Liam is on his knees again, putting his all into this performance.  The sound settles as the guitar comes through, still melodic but with a hard edge, the keyboards flowing under the guitar, but all focus is on the strong vocals as the drums tap with the sound, before kicking in with the bass rumbling as it pushes on.  The vocals are pushing through powerfully and the guitar cuts through with a gentle sound which develops and pushes the track on to its close.  They return to A Time Of Shadow for Stranger In The Looking Glass, Liam taking up an acoustic guitar, the keyboards flooding through full and rounded, the guitar piercing high with the keyboards and the drums tap in on mallets as it builds, gentle bass, the hi hat tapping into the atmospheric sound, the guitar echoing out as Gerry’s fingers move up and down the strings.  Liam strums in on the acoustic and the track pushes away as his vocals come in on top, and it rolls along uptempo.  Guitar parts are coming through as the keyboards swirl, and it breaks open as the guitar screams through and the drums kick, releasing us into fast, flowing guitar and it is a big, rounded sound driving on as the vocals come back in, before it pauses as both guitars strum.  The drums tap, the bass thumps, and for me the track has a mellow Pink Floyd feel to it right now, which is never a bad thing.  Then the drums kick, releasing us again, and it hits away with the guitar building and then flowing, the bass rumbles and the vocals push through as the track rolls along uptempo into a fast, intricate guitar part as it now crashes open, hitting away with a great guitar sound and powerful vocals.  It holds again with the keyboards swirling, the guitar cutting in, and now it is something of a Pendragon sound and it begins to build again with the vocals, the drums kicking and hitting it on again in bursts, before it rolls hard with a big sound, powerful, tight, bouncing along with fervent vocals, then hitting into intricate, circling guitar to bring it to an end.
Back to the debut album for Sunrise On The Trenches, Gerry picking out a part on the guitar as the cymbals gently crash through in waves, the keyboards flowing in as it holds, circles, and the vocals roll in as Liam also strums on the acoustic.  It is still holding, and then starts to build, Mickey using the mallets on the hi hat as the sound rocks into a crescendo then settles again, the cymbals crashing through in waves again.  The guitar part is still circling with a hard edge, Wilson’s bass pulsing, the cymbals then crashing us into gentle, bluesy guitar, cutting through against the swirling keyboards, the guitar sound developing against the waves of cymbals as it fades to a close.  Is Russell in the audience ?  Take a look at the setlist in my photos on here, as they continue with A Gathering Of Crows, a track voted into EKR Radio’s Top 100 of 2009 after they were recommended to the station by Jules, big sounding keyboards flooding in, the drums kicking as the big sound grows and then holds, before pushing away with the bass rumbling.  Gerry is picking out a part as the keyboards swirl with an organ sound, Liam’s vocals coming in hard and it thumps away upbeat.  The drums are rattling as the melody swirls, then it pauses as harder guitar cuts in, and the vocals take us on.  Racing guitar pushes through with the keyboards before it holds, settles, then pushes on again, the big keyboard sound on top as the guitar works under it, the bass thumping with the drums, and the vocals producing a very powerful sound.  It settles again and then eases on once more, high keyboards rolling through, piercing, as it moves into a sharp pause before sharp guitar pushes it, the vocals taking it on as the drums hold, and then it blasts into fast riffing guitar, the drums rolling as it still holds, sharp cymbal crashing into hard guitar as the keyboards flow in.  The bass thumps with the drums as the track moves in phases, then kicks away uptempo.  It holds again into floating guitar, Liam on his knees again, the drums then picking it up with pointed keyboards and a sharp guitar sound and it pushes away.  Suddenly it is into floating, swirling keyboards as the vocals roll in, the drums kick and the bass thumps as the guitar flows through, fast and high, piercing, holding that note as pointed keyboards trickle through, and then it kicks on again with flourishes from that pointed keyboard sound, pushing on into an extended finish.  “OK, that’s all very depressing”, says Liam, and the guitar riffs into The Centre Cannot Hold, the drums kicking, the bass thumps and it rumbles away.  The vocals come into a big rocker which is driving on hard – forget any pigeonholing, this is quite simply good old hard rock and should have a wide appeal out there.  The drums are crashing and rattling, hitting us into a false ending before the bass is rumbling, driving the track as the guitar flows in some more with Gerry playing an intricate part up and down the guitar neck, and the vocals come through powerfully. The track settles, then pauses, the guitar echoing through as Wilson is picking out notes on the neck of his bass, the drums holding us as the guitar sound swirls, and crashing cymbals close it out.  “We’d like to call a very special guest”, and Catherine McAtavey comes on to the stage to reprise her vocal role in The Sleepers Are Waking, which they dedicate to Tony Martin. Chris’ keyboards flow in and the drums tap as a part is picked out by Gerry on his acoustic guitar, the bass gently rumbling.  Liam’s vocals flow in as it eases along, emotional, and then joined by Catherine’s lovely voice, and the swirling, atmospheric melody pushes on, with the vocals pushing through.  Fast strumming on the acoustic and the drums tap with it, the tempo rising as the track races off, Liam coming back in and joined again by Catherine as the bass rumbles through, then it holds into kicking drums and the two vocals, before the acoustic strums back in, the bass thumps and it kicks on, racing away again, the drums driving it on to a sharp finish, and the end of a brilliant section of three tracks from A Time Of Shadow, and a lovely cameo from Catherine.They return to the debut album again for Falling From Grace as the drums kick in hard.  Discordant guitar joins with the bass thumping, and the keyboards flow under it all as the vocals come in powerfully on top and it hits along hard.  A pointed piano sound comes through as the track holds, then the vocals come back in with a strident sound and it kicks on, before pausing into a guitar part and holding, before it builds again and pushes away, a hard and sharp edge to the guitar as the drums drive it and the vocals are rising.  It pauses into a big keyboard sound, the drums roll and the guitar cuts through high as it all comes together and rolls away upbeat, the guitar echoing through, circling an intricate part as the drums rattle and the bass thumps along.  The keyboards flow under it as the guitar part develops, and a rounded sound rolls on, with a sharp burst into a harder guitar sound, and drum bursts kick us to a close.  The continue with The Road To Jerusalem, another track from their debut album, the drums kicking straight in, the guitar strumming through, and as the bass thumps in the keyboards flow in flourishes, and it kicks as the vocals join the sound and rolls on with that wonderful ‘neo-prog’ sound.  It moves along upbeat, with an edge to the vocals, once again full of passion and emotion, Liam giving it his all as drops to one knee, and the track kicks away again with the guitar strumming through.  The keyboards flow under the sound as the guitar riffs and the drums rattle, the bass thumping out the rhythm, before the guitar cuts through high and flowing, rounded and then piercing, shrieking as it holds, and then the track kicks on again, pushing on upbeat, gettting faster as it keeps pushing, before settling right down to allow Liam to introduce the band.  Then it picks up again and rocks away, the drums kicking through, guitar riffing fast, bass thumping, keyboards flowing below it all as it drives along, hitting to a sudden end.  And then a brilliant surprise as the hi hat taps and the drums kick as the guitar riffs into a cover of Solsbury Hill by Peter Gabriel, the bass thumping through as it bounces along with the vocals coming in and the keyboards going with the guitar riff, and they play it with a sharp, stripped down, raw feel, a wonderful tom sound from the drums pushing it along upbeat, the vocals really pushing through. And in the spirit of Scratch My Back it does make you wonder which Dead Heroes Club track will be covered by Peter Gabriel as part of his O2 gigs in March.  And as the vocals soar, Liam drops the microphone stand and the microphone crashes off the stage to the floor, leading Liam to come down off the stage to retrieve it.  “That could have been a whole law suit”, says Wilson.  They finish their set with the title track from their latest album, A Time Of Shadow, another big, rich keyboard sound, this time very pronounced, deliberate.  The vocals come in with the keyboards as the sound grows and the vocals rise into it.  It holds with the keyboards and then the guitar strums into it, picking a fast part as the vocals push through.  The drums rattle in as the bass thumps hard and the sound comes together and breaks open before settling and moving to rattling hi hat with strumming guitar, and the vocals push through again, hard.  The bass is rumbling with the guitar now as the keyboards are flowing and the drums kick us off again as the guitar riffs through hard, and it holds with a sustained guitar sound.  Then the guitar riffs away and it rolls on with the vocals, the cymbals crashing as the keyboards swirl in with the hard guitar sound and the track rumbles on, the keyboards piercing through high and it bounces along uptempo.  Then a sudden change of tempo and it is holding, floating, pauses, before the keyboards roll through sharp and the guitar joins them as the hi hat taps.  The big keyboard sound comes back in and develops the original theme, building it as the vocals flow into it and it holds, before the vocals push through powerfully and the drums hit hard.  Rounded, melodic guitar echoes through as the bass pulses and the sound swirls and holds, the cymbals coming in and the drums kick again as Liam comes down off the stage and into the audience to carry on singing, his voice fervent and emotional within the dramatic sound they have created, and he returns to the stage as the drums kick again and release the tension, with the guitar soaring through.  It pounds on from there with a piano sound flowing through, adding to the huge, majestic sound they have rolling along, pushing with flourishes from the drums, and as the guitar screeches through Liam offers us “thanks” as he leaves the stage, and the track drives on with the guitar flowing, pounding on faster, the bass thumping with the drums, keyboards flowing, the guitar soaring and piercing higher still to finish off an immense set.  The crowd erupt, and Gerry limps off the stage.They come back on – they had no choice, because the crowd noise did not die down in the time they were off.  And they leave us with A Secret Never To Be Told, also the closing track from their debut album.  The keyboards flow in and the guitar pierces high in pulses.  Mickey is using mallets on the toms and also for gentle cymbal waves, before he changes to sticks as the drums kick us off.  The guitar riffs through hard, the bass thumps and the keyboards are swirling.  The drum sound is growing and they crash through and bring everything together into a big, drifting sound.  The guitar picks out an intricate part and then hits away as the keyboards flow in, the track really opening up and rolling hard as the vocals come in with Liam blasting into his part, a stacatto sound to the track and then it kicks on again, the guitar flowing high and melodic, and it bounces off with a hard edge.  The sound pauses and swirls, the vocals pushing through and the sound builds as the vocals move along, and the drums kick and rattle into it, but it still holds within that swirling sound, before it pushes on with the vocals driving it.  The guitar riffs through and repeats against flourishes on the hi hat and the bass pulsing, and then the track hits away again into the swirling keyboards, pausing again as the guitar develops some more, before the vocals push it away and it kicks on, the drums really blasting on now, rolling us hard to a close of a brilliant night.  “It’s been an absolute pleasure”, says Liam, but the pleasure has most certainly been ours.Hopefully Dead Heroes Club will be back over here very soon, and when they are I would strongly recommend you get along to see them and have a great night’s entertainment.

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