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Stripes Bar, Brentford FC 21 January 2005

Sometimes you think you must be dreaming as you get to see two top class hard rock acts on the same bill, with a good atmosphere and sound. Luckily dreams do sometimes come true!

Statetrooper opened the night with a tight one-hour set mixing old classics like ‘She Got The Look’ (with its sublime keyboard riff) and songs from last year’s excellent ‘The Calling’. Pick of the bunch had to be ‘Casablanca’, which features a chorus that stays in your head for days and ‘Amerasians’. The band are very tight musically with vocalist Gary Barden on fine form.

Like many rock vocalists Gary Barden seems to get better with age (I am now a convert as I remember seeing Statetrooper support Blue Oyster Cult at the Victoria Hanley way back in 1986 and was not overly impressed) and if you’ve yet to sample the delights of Statetrooper I suggest you do pronto. Easily one the best hard rock bands around today IMHO. The set closed with a nod to Barden’s MSG days with ‘Armed And Ready’ - a rocking end to a very enjoyable and energetic set.

Lionsheart today may only feature one original ember but when it is the might vocals of Steve Grimmett the band can still proudly keep its name. Lionsheart are how metal meets hard rock should be - classy riffs, strong lyrics and vocals that can strip wallpaper at ten paces!

Grimmett is one of the UK’s most underrated rock vocalists and as can be witnessed by ‘Nightmare’ he certainly still has the power in his voice. Again a very tightly played set with plenty of the new album on display including the title track ‘The Abyss’ and having a keyboard player in the live setting helps keep the album’s wider sound. For no bars metal you can’t best ‘See You In Hell’ and the set closed with the melodic rocker ‘De Javu’.

A fantastic night of rock and hopefully these two bands will tour together again soon. In the meantime Statetrooper have been added to this year’s Sweden Rock festival where I am sure they will win over new fans aplenty.

The evening also raised £100 for the Tsunami appeal with thanks to Orion Publishing, GEP Records, Broken Teeth, Gut Records, Intense, Pete Johnston & Brian Clarke for providing the prizes.

Review: Jason Ritchie

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