It’s a slightly odd atmosphere inside the Asylum tonight; set against the anticipation of night of rock from three Midlands bands is the tragic reason everyone is here. The murder of teenager Christina Edkins two years ago was horrific, but with tonight’s show being put on to raise money for a fund in her memory, at least there is something positive.
Opening things up with their first ever gig is Bittersweet Revenge, who do a grand job. The foursome are tight and punchy and, while clearly nervous to begin with, they grow into their set. Their own material is full of solid riffs and pinned together with some brilliant drumming – even more brilliant given that just three weeks ago their drummer had his appendix taken out! They also throw in a couple of covers, including a decent stab at Papa Roach’s “To Be Loved”, which gets heads nodding. What this young band needs now, other than a bassist, is to keep gigging and keep growing in confidence.
Confidence is something Vicious Nature are not in any way short of, as they fill the stage with their big riffs and impressive presence. Despite their singer apologising as he’s currently suffering from a bout of man flu, you couldn’t tell as he delivers his lyrics with punch and passion. If you like your metal to have shades of Pantera, Dio and Judas Priest then you’d find plenty to like in Vicious Nature. They are more than a bit fun too, with their singer taking the mic to the front row and getting Dave Williamson, the organiser of tonight’s gig, to help out with vocals at one point. This is a band that clearly loves playing and that good vibe transfers to the crowd who get into the spirit of things. Great stuff.
Not so long ago, headliners Voodoo Sioux could be seen supporting the likes of Terrorvision and Little Angels, as well as having a demo reviewed with a hallowed 5K rating in Kerrang Magazine, and right from the start of their set you can see just how comfortable and experienced they are on stage. Whether it’s the crisp playing of guitarist Jon Blakely, the effortlessly cool drumming of Nigel Halford (brother of Judas Priest singer Rob), the flamboyant dress sense and vocal style of Nick Flaherty or the plain crazy playing of bassist Mario Ermoyenous, they are great to watch, and make you feel like you’re watching a far bigger band in a far bigger venue. Their brand of hard rock flushed with pop hooks is easily digestible and pretty damn good too. Like Vicious Nature before them, Voodoo Sioux play with a big smile on their face – if you can’t enjoy this band playing live then maybe gigs aren’t for you.
Huge credit has to go Dave Williamson, the Asylum and all of the bands for making this gig happen. It may have stemmed from tragedy, but the money raised here will help Christina Edkins’ memory live on by making a difference to local young people. A great night for a great cause.
Words and photographs: Dave Musson