Written by Craig Bailey
Saturday night was one of the first tentative steps on the path back to normality, and to getting the heartbeat of our thriving and vibrant live music scene beating again.
It is nights like tonight which will again be the heart and soul of what we love, three high quality bands for the price of a couple of London pints! I had only just discovered The Station prior to lockdown, so it was great to be back at this superbly set up and organised venue with what is one of the best sound set ups in the Midlands.
Crooked Shapes are a band that I have been looking forward to checking out, so I was pleased at the opportunity to catch them. Unfortunately, throughout the set George (vocals / guitar) was very much struggling with his voice, for which he was very apologetic, but he did not let it hinder what was a really strong set from this well honed three-piece.
George (Bass) and Craig (Drums) provided a really full and fluid backdrop to their classic rock / blues rock sound. The band do not just stick to formulaic 4/4 patterns, so the guys’ playing really came into its own when they flexed their muscles on tracks such as Appetite. It also allowed George the scope to really let rip on some fine solo work on many of the songs. They also had some really cool tri-vocal harmonies which really added some nice touches to their songs.
They threw in a big Karma To Burn-esque on instrumental stoner rock number Crooked Shapes, to give George’s vocals a rest. For me that was a heavy-as-hell nice little bonus. The band have a new album out in November and much of the set was culled from that. If tracks like Misery and Most To Lose, with its big dirty staccato riff, are any indication, then it will be certainly be worth checking out.
Following on were local band Severn UK who provided 45 minutes full of powerful, melodic, heavy rock. It is clear that these guys are big Alter Bridge / Tremonti fans, but if you are going to take any band as your inspiration, there are few better places to start.
These guys hit you with a full on sound and tracks like Signs and Nothing Sacred are driven by some serious riffs punched out from twin Gibsons. In a night that showcased some serious bass playing, Carl was working his five strings hard alongside Alex on drums, and Ben showed that he is a seriously talented guitar player. His solos on Fall Down and Pride and Pain were hugely impressive and the rest were bloody good too. These guys will be a future Central Sound on my show for sure.
Now, here at ERB we have been championing Ethyrfield since Issue #1 of our magazine and tonight confirmed exactly why we placed them on the cover for issue #5.
In Delirium is an astonishing debut album, and the band did not hold back as they opened with a monstrous three track salvo. The thunderous crunching guitars and Zach and Ben’s call / response vocals on the scorching Sunstroke had ears pinned back immediately and then Dan’s astonishing talent behind the kit drove a ferocious Free The Dog. Dan plays such complex rhythms and fills throughout the set with such precision and ease, it genuinely looks like he could actually fit even more in.
After the immense The Hunter, the band gave the audience a chance to catch their breath with the atmospheric Remembering. Ben’s playing on this, especially the quiet interludes, was mesmerising.
The band reminded us that their previous EPs have some stunning tracks as well. Black Sky had my partner Trudy smiling and dancing as she savoured what she described as Zach’s “Eddie Vedder-esque vocals” as the band showed off their grunge credentials.
Next up was Laying On Of Hands, which had Zach nervously stating that they had not practiced much or played live as they were unsure whether they could play it as a three-piece. Seven minutes later all worries had been put aside, as they played this masterpiece as if they had been doing this for years. It is a track that gains an extra dimension live as the various layers come to life, giving each band member the full scope to show their incredible playing, and demonstrating Zach and Ben’s incredible sense of vocal harmonies.
The set closed out in the same vein as it opened, with the trio of Serenity, Bitter Wishbone and Bag Of Bones. The first all wonderous vocal layers over heavy melodic riffs and the last had Zach and Ben playing out in full on thrash style with hair flailing around and guitar shapes being thrown. An immense ending…or so we thought!
The previous night they had played as support to Diamond Head at The Junction in Plymouth (see photos). Now, over the years I have heard many bands play Am I Evil, but none have owned it as Ethyrfield completely did last night.
Zach emulated Sean Harris’ mournful howl like no other and Ben, well he completely slayed the classic opening and powered through the thunderous riffs, which had all three members of Crooked Shapes up against the barrier, headbanging. It was a jaw dropping show closer which went further to prove that Ethyrfield could be on the verge of something very special. I urge you to not take my word for it, but to get out there and witness it for yourself.
Zach Cornish: Lead Vocals / Bass
Ben Cornish: Guitar / Vocals
Dan Aston: Drums
Se7ern UK: https://www.facebook.com/Se7ernUK
Crooked Shapes: https://www.facebook.com/crookedshapes
The Station: https://www.facebook.com/thestationlive
KOL Promotions: http://www.kolpromotions.co.uk
RockPulse Music: https://www.facebook.com/rockpulsemusic