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PHOTOS BY STEVE TURNER
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Crewe, 4 December 2008
from the dying embers of the flame that was Karnataka, Panic Room are a
very different proposition. Karnataka, a proggy melodic rock ensemble
based in that Bastion of Rock otherwise known as Wales, imploded in 2004
and it needs a Pete Frame rock family tree to figure out all resulting
bands that have emerged or are related. But of those, Panic Room are
undoubtedly one of the best.
The band might have you believe that their debut album - Visionary
Position - which is now close to selling out it's initial production of
3000 copies, isn't an album that bites you on the bum at first listen. But
I can tell you it is one of the best releases of 2008, one that gets
better with repeated listens, and one which is likely to prove to be one
of the more enduring releases of the year.
As keyboard player Jonathan Edwards will tell you, Panic Room is a more
organic unit than Karnataka, with other commitments by band members (Gavin
John Griffiths drums for Fish, and Ann-Marie Helder contributes to Mostly
Autumn) keeping the band fresh when they come together. Jon prides Panic
Room gigs on never being the same twice, and that's the way rock music was
meant to be. Who wants to go to a gig and hear a CD perfect reproduction?
Limelight gig didn't perhaps portray the band in the best possible light.
For a start the in-house PA was poor - muddy and way too loud. Then there
was the kick-off time - 10 past 10. Now I'm not going to knock a near on 2
hours set, but a midnight finish with a one and half hour drive home and
an alarm set for 5:55am, is no joke. And finally there were a few gremlins
- Ann-Marie needed a safety pin after here dress gave way, her vocal
effects gizmo was playing up, and worse, she was suffering from a bad
Taking all those factors into account, Panic Room nevertheless pulled it
off with a fine set covering most of Visionary Position, a clutch of
excellent new songs which we can expect to see on the tricky second album
(although from what we heard it doesn't look like there will be any banana
skins) a couple of Ann-Marie solo numbers and a few covers. I wouldn't
like to single out any particular band member for praise - they were
clearly all 'up for it' and it was refreshing to see a band clearly having
a good time.
(Jonathan Edwards isn't a fan of covers or tributes) one of the highlights
- apart from Ann-Marie's skimpy Santa outfit for the encores - was an
inspirational seasonal interpretation of Metallica's Enter Sandman ( … we're
off to winter wonderland …). Very funny, and very fine. It left me looking
forward to seeing the band again (but with a better sound system and a
healthy Ann-Marie) and to the successful launch of their next album.
Set list (I
think): Elektra City / Sandstorms / Into The Fire / Banks Of The Ohio / Go
/ Endgame / How Did It Feel / Holy Night / Yasuni / Black Noise /
Apocalypstick / Blood Red Sky / I Wonder What's Keeping My True Love
Tonight / Happy Christmas (War Is Over) / Enter Santa
Review by Pete Whalley
Album review and interview link
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