Written by Doug Bearne
Photographs by Marty Moffat
Saturday night in Swindon Old Town, and The Vic is the place to be if you are looking for an evening of live rock music. And tonight is a special night for headliner (Ryan) WEBB as it is the release day of his new EP, Disenchanted.
Before the main act though, we have two great support bands – starting with Land Captains from along the M4 in Bristol.
The four-piece comprising Tzarina Red on vocals, Hugo Bowman on guitar, Dru Franks on drums and Justin Kool on bass are a tight unit, and a severe wake-up call if anyone needed it. Tzarina’s vocals are loud and strong, over the stylish guitar and solid rhythm section throughout. The short six-song set is all delivered with the urgency of a band happy to be back gigging again. It’s a set of mostly newer tracks, and a nod to the recent EP, Delta with Automatic being the oldest. Standout track of the set, though, has to be the last single Burn The World – a speedy burst of raw energy.
Then we have Oxford band Broken Empire – another energetic four-piece. The band have released four EPs to date, so Ieuan Owen (vox/rhythm guitar), Matt Stevens (lead guitar), Ricky Hill (drums) and Marco Arena (bass) have a good selection of tracks to chose from for their nine song set. And take from most they do, as frontman Ieuan, with his crazy hair and varying vocal styles, gives us song after song of crowd-pleasers from opener Time Is Running Out to closer My Only Enemy. There is a fair crowd to please as well – including a good few sporting Broken Empire T-shirts. Ieuan even dedicates a song to one of them. In between we are given a cover of the Bruno Mars track Locked Out Of Heaven – given a fair Broken Empire makeover though, which improves it no-end! We are also treated to new track Disguise, which is another great song, and if this is a sample of what’s to come, I would definitely watch out for them.
So now comes the main event – local man Ryan Webb who, having recently shortened his name to the more catchy WEBB, is releasing his new EP, Disenchanted today. Joined tonight by Rob Slade on drums and Luca Massidda on bass, they provide a sterling backdrop throughout to Ryan’s awesome fret work on the guitar. The set starts with the awesome new single from the EP, Concrete Beds – a song with a message that is played and sung with conviction, and translates really well live. This is followed by I’m Standing Here and Secrets, both from the new EP and sounding great. Again, Ryan’s playing is exquisite while still packing a punch – a real virtuoso. Then it is back to the 2018 album Stop The World for three in a row comprising Immortal, Insomnia and the title track, which has a few in the crowd singing along – the lyrics still poignant three years on! Don’t! from the EP follows – another track with a strong message, delivered with a real Metallica vibe to it. Then it is back to the album for another of the standout tracks, Runaway, which again has the crowd joining in. To end the set we have the last track to be played from the EP, When Darkness Falls. Or so we thought! The crowd want more, and the band can do nothing but oblige, with Ryan taking the opportunity to introduce the fantastic musicians on stage with him (which for sure they were), and giving us Lucky Ones from the album to send us on our way. And we certainly were the lucky ones to have witnessed a masterclass in showmanship, musicianship and humbleness all rolled in to one. What a great night.
Broken Empire: https://www.brokenempireband.co.uk/
Land Captains: https://landcaptains.com/
The Vic: https://thevicswindon.com/
Marty Moffat Photography: https://www.martymoffatt.photography/