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Robin 2, Bilston, 10 December 2011
being unable to attend the bands home town seasonal gig at The Grand
Opera House in York I was really pleased to make it to their midlands
Xmas show at The Robin 2 in Bilston, I am sure that anyone who regularly
reads my reviews will realise how much I adore this band and could
accuse me of bias towards them if not for the fact they really are that
great a band.
the norm for headline Autumn gigs this was one long set rather than
split into two halves and ran for over 2 1/2 hours (never a band to
skimp on value for money these guys) and as expected it climaxed in
Autumn always have that great knack of knowing how much material from
their latest offering to include in a set along with the much loved
classic material and this gig was no exception with a good half a dozen
from the latest masterpiece Go Well Diamond Heart mixed with highlights
from the bands high quality back catalogue.
from the latest album included the emotion packed 'Hold the Sun', it's
oh so gentle keyboard intro merging into one of the bands rockiest riffs
before the exquisite chorus full of the most gorgeous vocal harmonies
takes over, next from one knockout guitar riff to another with
'Something Better' a real classic rock style number with it's topical
lyrics relating to certain present world issues and last but not least a
stunning version of 'Go Well Diamond Heart' itself' a fitting tribute to
our Armed Forces.
every track in the set well deserved it's place but of the oldies a
special mention to guitarist extraordinaire Liam Davison for his
stunning solo introduction to (and also making a very happy return to
the set I must say) 'The Spirit of Autumn Past (part 2)', other
highlights among the many classics performed included the haunting 'The
Last Bright Light' and a subtle but powerful 'Half the Mountain'.
set finished in true Autumn tradition with the very special 'Heroes
Never Die' during which Bryan Josh proves what many of us already know,
that he is one of the country's finest rock lead guitarists.
one of the things that makes them such a special band is there is not a
weak link in the line-up, Olivia is a true star on vocals and she can
make you smile or cry depending on the number being performed, I have
already mentioned the prowess of both band leader Bryan (also of course
an excellent lead vocalist) and Liam on guitar duties, Anne-Marie Helder
is sensational on keyboard/flute/backing vocals etc, etc, Iain Jennings
the complete keyboard wizard, the rock star himself Andy Smith always
superb on bass (and of course classic rock poses!) and last but not
least one of the best sticks men around Gavin Griffiths.
the bands musical abilities their song writing really stands out, jam
packed with emotion, lyrically often far away from the regular rock song
subject matters and all the better for it.
was a Xmas show after all and with the band all dressed in festive
apparel they encored with a selection of seasonal favourites, Olivia
with the help of Anne- Marie and Iain on keyboards started the festive
fun with a heart wrenching 'Somewhere Over the Rainbow' followed by a
rocked up version of Greg Lake's 'I Believe in Father Christmas' a great
fun 'Fairytale of New York' and finally with Liam in Chefs-get-up taking
the vocals, a manic 'Merry Xmas Everybody' with band friend and tireless
behind the scenes worker Roger Newport standing in for him on guitar.
!! - guilty as charged - and with shows like this always will be.