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VEGA, Tainted Nation, Degreed
Borderline, London 4 November 2012
seen as one of the great hopes of the current melodic rock scene,
Bringing together former Kick and Eden singer Nick Workman, and brothers
Tom and James Martin who seem to have the Midas touch with their
prolific song writing for a variety of artists.
With a fresh
modern sound and an image far removed from the tight spandex and big
hair stereotypes that bedevil the genre, they are seen as one of the few
new generation bands with the potential to cross over into the
Ahead of the
release of their critical second album they headed out on a short debut
headline tour, taking in this date at the Borderline. Sadly they are
still a well kept secret on the evidence of a crowd of only just over
100, though a Sunday night slot in the most crowded gig schedule of the
year did not help.
full value for money with three bands, beginning with another of the new
generation, young Swedes Degreed, with avant garde haircuts
artfully sculpted forward.
generated a bit of a buzz among some of my friends and though initially
sceptical of a heavier (or at least louder) sound than I expected they
won me over with an interesting set with just enough originality, and
diversity from the straight ahead rock n roll of 'You and Me' to the
more melodic sounds of set closer 'Arms of Misery'. As with so many
Scandinavians, singer and bassist Robin Ericson has a smoother version
of the warm deep tones of a vintage Coverdale.
Nation are an altogether different proposition of seasoned musicians
led by the shaven headed Pete Newdeck, drummer with the likes of Steve
Grimmett and Eden's Curse, but now stepping forward as a frontman and
surprisingly comfortable in the role.
traditional metal was a tad out of place on the bill but perfectly
listenable, especially when Pete's vocals were enhanced by a big wall of
gang backing vocals on the likes of 'What Are You Waiting For' and 'Your
Only Friend', from their forthcoming release early in 2013.
appearances with Houston and at Firefest last year, there have been some
changes in the Vega live line up, with two lead guitarists giving
them more crunch in that department (though long solos are avoided) and
Tom Martin switching to bass.
What has not
changed is Nick Workman's self-belief and utter command of the audience,
the spiky haired frontman acting as if the small club were a stadium.
To open with
the title cut, and perhaps the strongest song, from their 'Kiss Of Life'
debut got the gig off to a flying start, with a sizeable knot of people
at the front (with Degreed leading the cheering) punching the air to the
'who-oah' after the chorus, and 'Stay With Me' and 'SOS' were almost as
A number of
new songs from the upcoming 'What The Hell' album were aired, including
'Not There for You', 'Bless My Soul' and the title track, and seemed on
first listen to continue with the winning formula of 'Kiss Of Life'.
'Hearts Of Glass' is another fresh uptempo song made for instant
singalongs and 'Headlights' is perhaps their nearest to an epic.
was the closing pair of new songs that really brought things to the
boil, with the instantly catchy 'White Knuckle Ride' and 'Hands In The
Air', which you could describe as a Ronseal of a song. By the time an
hour long set ended with a joyous encore of 'Into The Wild', it was easy
to forget the relatively small turnout.
hooks of Bon Jovi, the audience communion of Shinedown and the swagger
of, like him or not, Robbie Williams, this gig was proof positive that
Vega are made of the right stuff.
Now, how do
we spread the word beyond the faithful and get their appeal out to that
elusive wider audience?
photos by Andy Nathan
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