Stone Gods + Them Is Me + The First Seven + NewBreed @ Birmingham Barfly – 13th September 2008

Stone GodsStone Gods

Big credit to Kerrang Radio’s Emma Scott for putting this gig on tonight — four great rock bands in a hot, sweaty little room, now that’s how it should be! However, due to there being a club night on after the gig, we were in for an early start, and as a result not that many people got to enjoy opening act NewBreed. The Telford-based four-piece have been starting to carve a name for themselves in the States of late, and it’s not too difficult to see why on tonight’s showing. They have excellent stage presence, are incredibly tight, and their hard, sleazy rock stylings should see them succeed.

NewbreedThe First Seven

Next up, Birmingham’s very own The First Seven, and what a find they turn out to be. Playing a very interesting blend of rock that merged the more pop-influenced stuff from Audioslave with some grunge and stoner influenced groove, they sound highly accomplished. Their performance is tight, confident and professional, and it is no surprise to see them get such a good reaction. The band also shows a high level of song writing maturity, with some subtle time changes and some highly atmospheric jammed parts. And in Stephen Marks they have a supremely talented vocalist who can really cut it on stage. With a debut album in the offering, expect to hear a lot more about this band in the future — they should become another fine addition to the list of great West Midlands bands.

Them Is MeThem Is Me

Third up, and back in Brum for the second time this summer, are Them Is Me — the four-piece featuring ex-Reef men on vocals and bass guitar. These guys are improving no end, and they emphasise this with a stellar performance. Right from the start of “The Skull Behind”, they have clearly gained so much confidence since their last visit to these parts, and the result is a band that is turning into something very special. Them Is Me’s strength comes from their ability to successfully blend some heavy groove riffs with catchy hooks, and songs like “Sick of You”, “Caveman Love” and “Them Is Me” really show off their talent. They are still lacking somewhat in terms of talking to the crowd between, but in fairness to them tonight, their stage time was short and it seemed like a case of less talk more rock. By the time they ended with “They Won’t Be There For You”, they had certainly acquired themselves a good number of new fans.

Stone GodsStone Gods

And so onto the headliners, and a very special appearance from the band featuring two former members of the Darkness. This one-off show was already going to be something of a treat for the Barfly crowd, purely for the fact that it was celebrating a band that is on the up. But, due to the recent departure of drummer Ed Graham, for one night only the Stone Gods were joined on the kit by the ever grinning Stuart Cable, formerly of the Stereophonics — a definite treat now. Launching into “Burn the Witch”, the group find their groove immediately and the crowd laps it up. The Stone Gods have crafted their sound around the superb, crunching rhythm guitar skills of Dan Hawkins and the superb voice of Midlander Richie Edwards — the result being a classic, AC/DC influenced base with a touch of contemporary punch on top. Their debut album has been a hit with the press, and with songs as good as “Makin’ It Hard” and “Don’t Drink the Water” it’s completely understandable.

Stone GodsStone Gods

Cable’s performance on the drums is superb. You really couldn’t tell that they had only been working with other for a matter of days, in fact, you would swear that the Welshman was their normal sticksman, given just how tight his playing is. He was clearly enjoying himself, and the rest of the band clearly loved having him there — if this placing was made permanent it would be a shrewd move, especially given how good the original three members are at what they do. Quite simply, they rock. The only negative point of the set was that blasted curfew mentioned at the start, which limited the headliners to a nine-song set. As Richie Edwards hit out at the Barfly, “We don’t wanna finish at half ten. My Mum and Dad are here tonight, and they don’t even go to bed that early” before demanding the crowd to “voice your disdain”. Good humoured, but also a good point. However, there was nothing more the band could do except get on with job and finish with “I’m With the Band” and “Defend Or Die”. A great set, and a great way to end the night. The Stone Gods return to Birmingham in November supporting Airbourne, which should be an excellent match. I’ll be there, and if you like rock, so should you!

Review and Photographs — Dave Musson

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