Monday 28th February: Way back when, many years ago, when I first started going to gigs, it was rare for me to know anything about the various support bands I was due to see. In fact, I can’t even remember many of them, especially those from your standard two-act gigs. Most of the time, I doubt I even knew who the support were due to be and rarely did I like them. These days, however, I’m as likely to go to a gig based on who (one of) the support bands are than I am for the headliners.
Tonight is one of those occasions as I make a solo trip to Fibbers to see Inspades.inc, a band I’ve seen once before and really enjoyed. Seeming to write their songs around lovely guitar solos (or, perhaps, duets as, once I took proper notice, I did spot one “solo” actually slide smoothly across from Stewart King’s guitar to that of Adam Brady) and with some nice changes of pace, the band came across as a lot more confident tonight than the last time I saw them (which was, to be fair, only their second gig). There was still a hint of nervousness, most especially during Cannibals a song written and sung by Brady and hampered by the fact that tonight’s sound man didn’t seem to have realised that the vocals were coming through a different microphone – vocals are hard enough to hear through the more dance-music orientated sound system at Fibbers without inattentive sound engineers… There’s little doubt (in my mind, at least) that King is the “main man” of the band. The rest of the songs featured his vocals, he did all the talking and, as far as I could tell, the majority of solo’s were his as well. His understated (i.e. not too showy) posturing was counterpointed by the more relaxed performances of the rest of the band (P.G. Branton on drums and Jim Quinn on bass) and he’s another of those frontmen who, if he can’t tempt the audience closer to the stage will just shrug and get on with the performance. And it was a very good performance. Along with Cannibals, the six song set was made up of Seanachai, Twenty Minutes From Now, Lost Track Of Time, Of It’s Own Accord and Sucker Punch, some of which I recognised from the previous gig and some of which were new (I’m ruling out “less memorable”). If you like your rock slightly less heavy than metal, you will probably enjoy this band. A debut EP is available now and there is the possibility of a longer release towards the end of this year.
In contrast Leon Sanford, vocalist with Tiger Please, seemed more insistent that the audience moved closer to the stage, calling us forward after completing their first song. Hailing from South Wales and being around since at least 2009 (when they released their debut EP), this is a slightly more established band who had supported tonight’s headliners all through their tour and who are about to be supporting Funeral For A Friend. With twelve guitars and a spare drum visible on stage, I was expecting big things. Sanford has powerful vocals, even if they were helped by a fair bit of echo/reverb, which somehow reminded me a little of The Manic Street Preachers, while the music varied from pseudo-Killers in the quieter moments to something bordering on heavy at other times. I didn’t catch any song titles and none of the songs immediately took up residence in my head, but it was a reasonably enjoyable set. There was a great deal more showmanship in evidence, with band members (including a stand-in for the usual guitarist) moving around the stage on a whim. The band are about to write an album of songs based on the real-life stories of their fans and the last song of their set was, apparently, the story of one woman whose father committed suicide early in her life. Opened by the stand-in guitarist basically beating seven shades out of the extra drum and containing slightly more than a hint of Runrig, this epic song turned out to be my highlight of the set. The band were joined on stage by the members of the headliners - all togged out in Tiger Please T-shirts - and yet another drum halfway through the song, ensuring a rousing end to the set. I may not be beating any doors down in order to see Tiger Please again, but I enjoyed what I saw tonight.
The Crave, on the other hand, I would definitely see again. Apparently they last played York a couple of years ago, to a slightly smaller crowd at the Duchess. (Tonight’s crowd was somewhere in the region of fifty people, many of whom seemed to be friends or family of Tiger Please…)
Looking like a mix of any number of rock or metal bands, The Crave play fast and loud, but still melodic, rock and mix the accessibility of the likes of Bon Jovi with something that has a bit more edge. Songs like Crash and Burn, with it’s heavy metal vocals and almost finger-plucking guitar work, mixed easily with the more commercial, audience sing-along of High, while a more ballad-like song whose title I couldn’t hear once again suffered from a poor vocal mix in the sound, but not as badly as the cover of Limp Bizkit’s Mission Impossible theme, when the vocals from drummer C.J. Evans were, once again, ignored by the sound-man until some frantic gesturing from the stage woke him up. This song also featured the reverse of the end-of-tour hi-jinks,as The Crave were joined on stage by the members of Tiger Please, all sporting Scream masks and some just their underwear and some strategically placed sticky tape… Most of the songs played seemed to come from the recently released album, Breaking The Silence (which I bought on the night) but there was also one brand new song – Star Tripping – which at least shows that the band aren’t resting on their laurels. There was a great deal to like in this performance and, like Inspades.inc, I would highly recommend The Crave if you like guitar-driven rock. (As an aside, this is the first gig I’ve been to this year where none of the band used a keyboard.) I couldn’t put it any better than the tour poster – “Back in a simpler time there was no indie, no emo, no nu-rave. No post-this, post-that, just riff-laden, ballsy rock ‘n’ roll; huge songs, life-changing gigs and a whole world of noisy, gutsy fun.”