Stone Gods + Big Linda @ Birmingham Academy 2 – 21st June 2008


“Are you having fun tonight?… We are.”

The intimidatingly eager crowd of metalheads filled the audience awaiting their next fix of heavy rock, eyes cast to the stage in rowdy anticipation, and it was clear Birmingham were ready for the Stone Gods. They would however, have to wait as supporting act Big Linda took to the stage and shook the crowd. With the sound of Pearl Jam meets Led Zeppelin, they exploded from nowhere taking most of the audience by surprise. When the young band had finished their set announcing their next song to be their last, an almost synchronised groan swept across the audience making front man Rob Adler chuckle and promise us, “but it’s a long one”. They were so good in fact for just one moment I believed they had stolen the show.


I had mixed expectations as we waited for the Stone Gods. They had afterall, just recently played Download, which despite being weaker than previous years, is still a major “rock fest” as bass guitarist Toby Macfarlaine had described it. “You can get such a high from a big, successful, massive stage.”

Would this mean they would be on top form? Or had the climax in their first tour already taken place? Macfarlaine did continue to talk about what a dramatic change of scenery it was. “It’s quite a shock going from that big professional vibe straight into a little club.”


There was also the angst surrounding the Stone Gods’ drummer, Ed Graham, being out of action before the tour, causing three gigs to be cancelled. The show did go on as singer/guitarist Richie Edwards had told me “As far as we were concerned, pulling the tour just wasn’t going to be an option.”

So in came a life-line in the form of demon ex-Bush drummer Robin Goodridge, who Macfarlaine jokingly claimed “Slotted in like a connect four piece.” Richie Edwards had already described the emotions of the moment the four musicians had realised that there was a chance to get back on track. “The day that we were waiting for Robin to arrive there was a great deal of stress. The following morning we fired up ‘Burn the Witch’ for the first time together, and everyone looked at each other and went “fucking hell, we’re gonna be alright here””.

Despite all the speedbumps leading up to the tour, the band backstage were in such high spirits you couldn’t help but feel comforted, and I was left with the memory of bass guitarist Macfarlaine’s confident forcast for the night ahead of us “Its going to go amazingly well.”

Instead of a red carpet, red smoke filled the stage for The Stone Gods entrance into the eruption of the fans. Strutting onto the stage Edwards arrogantly held his hands out accepting his applause, acting the front man came impressively naturally, and from the word go the energy and charisma of the band matched their undoubtable talent, as they came out guns blazing with the established ‘Burn the Witch’.

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What was I worrying about again?

The performance was superb throughout with face melting songs such as ‘Knight of the living dead’ and ‘You brought a knife to a gunfight’, which were well received by every screaming, headbanging rocker in the building.

The Stone Gods themselves were electric. Possessed with confidence Edwards ran and lept from the stage countless times to stand above the crowd, as they reached out to touch him and his axe, he stared challengingly into our eyes with a true metal face, sending the emotions of the audience rocketing. Accompanying him were some insane riffs from the quiet, killer guitarist Dan Hawkins, the cheeky, playful Macfarlaine on bass and the ex-Bush man Goodridge destroying his drums with passion – it was without any doubt a likeable line-up.

Personally, I thought when Edwards picked up his acoustic guitar the band played some of their best stuff, combining a more soulful sound with the backbone of the metal, creating a great sound. However, most of the audience would disagree with this opinion as I reapeatedly heard groans and complaints everytime Edwards reached for his acoustic. It goes without saying these metal fans surrounding me only had a thirst for an ear drum exploding sound, which I guess I couldn’t agree with more, afterall bass guitarist Macfarlaine did promise a “Big slice of rock pie”, and of course they delivered.

It’s an amazing experience to watch an audience crazed with rock hunger, well fed, raising their devil horns above them and roaring themselves horse. Not bad for what Goodridge called “The original rock town of Birmingham”.

Most importantly, the Stone Gods connected with the audience. Not that they needed to be forced to participate, but it’s refreshing to watch a band encouriging and feeding off the enthusiasum of the audience. It is of course, the fundemental reason for live music, and like many of us, Edwards obviously felt very passionately about the decline in successful bands’ attitudes towards performing to paying audiences.

“A lot of bands these days, with a lot of exceptions, almost forget what you are essentially is a form of entertainment.”
The audiences efforts certainly didn’t go unrecognised as the stunned front man annouced how “proud” he was of his hometown, and proclaimed us the “loudest” audience on their tour so far, which could pessimistically be seen as him giving us something sweet, but judging from the hyper metal junkies knocking me around the pit, and the atmosphere that was obviously something special, I believed him. And there was without any doubt a respect between both the band and the fans for each other.


The Stone Gods are a band of classic rock taste, and it wasn’t just the music, you couldn’t help but enjoy the banter, as Edwards asked the crowd, “Its Saturday night, what time is it?” I watched the scurrying fans search for the coolest, most rock and roll answer they could, ranging from “Time to rock!” to “Who cares!”, or my personal favourite answer being the correct one “Ten to ten!” “It’s Saturday night!” Edwards continued “Which to us means… heavy metal time!” On cue the band ripped back into the music and it occurred to me how much of the gig was classic rock theatre – fantastic!

After continuously thanking the crowd for their contribution to the night, the band picked it up once more with a thrilling encore, sending the fans into overdrive. Untill the gig finally came to a more than satisfying end, and despite the lights coming back on, the background music fading into the air, and the sound technicians shutting off the amps, a number of aging metalheads in Stone Gods merchandise stood at the foot of the stage, chanting “Stone Gods!” over and over, laughing amongst themselves at the idea that the night might not end.

“A good successful concert for me is when whoever’s in the audience leaves with a smile on their face. If that happens we’ve done our job.” Richie Edwards


Review & Interview – Jack Molloy
Photos – Jenny Tolley

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