Venue : The Woughton Leisure Centre, Milton Keynes
Date : 7 October 2012
Date : 7 October 2012
There are around 50 people here for a free lunchtime gig, and a gig at which children are welcome. I am sure there are many reasons why there are not more people here, but it cannot help that the venue’s website has no mention of the gig at all. It is a pity because it is an excellent band in a good venue which could have held a decent crowd with ease. Anyway, there are a lot of familiar faces in the assembled crowd and I am not alone in taking advantage of the opportunity to bring along children, though mine do seem to be the youngest. They both found it a little loud (and it did come across as being a bit too loud than necessary for such a venue), but Stephen said he enjoyed the music and Caitlin enjoyed her choc-ice.
The band come on to the stage at around half past one, and the melodic piercing intro from Dec eases along before it soars to an end and crashes into a thumping Days Like These. It is a crunching, tight version with lovely sounds from both guitars, Dec and Hywel Bennett already sounding on top form. The excellent rhythm section of Tim Churchman on drums and the still relatively new Steve Woodcock on bass is holding it controlled and the vocals sound spot on. It moves into a flowing screeching guitar solo from Dec which is just perfect, and this is a brilliant start to the gig. “Thanks for coming out and supporting us in this Sunday lunch gigette thing,” says Dec, and they kick into another very tight Signs Of Life which rises and soars into the catchy chorus. The drums are rattling all around the melody, the bass is thumping hard, the keyboards from Paddy Darlington provide depth and then the guitars shoot away into a pause for vocal harmonies before it then pounds away again into a very sharp finish. “We also appreciate you thinning out and forming a crowd,” says Dec, and they continue straight on into the power ballad sounds of Winter To Summer, wonderfully anthemic with lovely guitar breaks before it raises the tempo to drive to a close. The keyboards surge through with tapping drums to open December Sun and it sways along as Dec sings in. The sound gradually grows as it eases on before it rises and soars out with an epic feel and then retains that sound and feel as it moves along smoothly through guitar breaks with the drums and bass holding it tight. It is one of those songs I never want to come to an end, but, of course, it must do.
Dec changes guitar for March Of The Androids and some squidgy electronica starts us off. It taps away hard and rocking with a sharp edge and a busy sound which moves in bursts. The drums shuffle us through screeching, piercing guitars and high keyboard sounds with the bass rumbling below. It pauses to the electronica alongside slicing guitar then kicks on and drives into flowing guitar against rumbling bass and pounding drums before screeching to an end. They continue with some more electronica and rumbling before slicing into the main hook of The Last Time and it kicks as the vocals blast out powerfully. I have to say the vocals are such an improved area of the live show, with Dec singing with a lot more confidence, and the track pounds along with keyboard and guitar bursts. I then had to exit with the children before the end of the track and came back to a brilliant drum solo which ended with Tim throwing one of his drumsticks into the air. They continue with Destroy All Monsters and melodic keyboard and guitars flood through before circling with tapping cymbals. The drums kick, the bass rumbles and Dec sings in. It pushes to the chorus and sways along before returning to the harder sound with higher twinkling notes, moving in phases as it drives on through excellently controlled screeching guitar breaks. It holds, then blasts away with the guitars flowing, driving to the finish. “This one’s for the ladies,” says Dec, and the guitar circles in gently melodic from Hywel as he builds the sound gradually with an echo to begin Yesterday’s Fool, before it taps away and sways, flowing on into a sumptious solo from Dec and then soars majestic with a wonderful sound. “I spilt my beer all over the fridge,” announces a clearly confused Dec, before they blast into Breathe It In, from Darwin’s Radio, which is still some of the best progressive metal I have ever heard. The guitars riff hard against thumping rhythm as the keyboards surge and Dec sings on top, and I am so very glad that they still play something from Darwin’s Radio.
They finish with Small Hours which shuffles along and then opens up into the chorus and flows melodic to bring an excellent gig to a brilliant conclusion. If you were not there then you should get along to see them on 11 October at The Black Bottom Club in Northampton, and I will see you there.