Live Review: WARD XVI at Electrowerkz, London (15/4/22) with photos from Fuel, Cardiff (17/4/22)

WARD XVI BRING METAMORPHOSIS TO LIFE!

Written By: DAVID CHAVE

Photos By: MARTY MOFFATT

The venue for the evening frolics, Electrowerkz is sometimes known as Islington Metal Works. Despite the venue being open since 1987, surprisingly it’s one I’ve not been to before. The venue is spread over three floors, with this gig hosted in the 200 capacity ground floor space. The room was dark and possessed a definite rock and metal vibe, despite it also being used for club nights. However, a disappointing feature was the wholly inadequate lighting for stage shows, rendering the job of photographers very difficult. Disappointing for the audience, as two of the bands provide spectacularly visual shows. Hopefully things will improve in the future, as the day before the gig, Electrowerkz announced new management.

The evening opened up with Aliceissleeping, a south London based three piece, consisting of Alice Dionis on vocals and bass, Daniele Murroni on guitar, with drummer Jonathan Hare-Winton projecting the image of a ska band drummer in his white business shirt, slim black tie, short hair and sunglasses. He soon displayed his rock credentials with some tight drumming, dove-tailing well with Alice’s bass licks.

The late opening of the doors resulting in a sizeable queue at the bar outside the gig space meant the trio commenced to a small audience, but undeterred, the set opened with Mrs Creepy, an unreleased song with an atmospheric opening, before the force of the band and in particular, Alice’s strong voice were unleashed. Felix from their 2021 album followed, with echoing guitar riffs reminiscent of early The Cure, leading into a Lene Lovich style vocal by Alice, before the song transformed from indie to hard rock. An operatic final note from Alice preceded a magnificent cacophony of drums, bass and guitar ending.

Alice introduced the next song, Negotiating Sex, asserting that it is a “good thing”. The new wave feel of the beginning of the song transformed into some Black Sabbath-style chords as the song progressed. Another unreleased song, Courtney followed with tempo changes working well in the context of the song. Then Alice introduced Over and Over Again by saying, “This is a song we like to play over and over again.” The band’s final offering, Not Cool  launched with a rhythm articulated by drum sticks on snare rims, before a heavy riff began. Alice showed her vocal dexterity with different styles of singing throughout.

Aliceissleeping supported two very narrative driven bands, but this didn’t appear to phase them. The crowd increased as their set progressed and those present were treated to a fine live band relying on strong songs, who I will definitely see again.

Death Ingloria’s sole official member is Galina Rin, who creates music by fusing heavy metal, comic art and animations, through which she explores the demise of humanity through real-life experiences.

On this tour, Galina is performing with unnamed session musicians. The stage was dominated by a circular projector screen, animated from the rear with images from the comic books and some standalone animations relevant to each song. Before opening the set, Galina poignantly dedicated the performance to Sophie Lancaster, and her mother Sylvia Lancaster OBE, who sadly passed away this week. Readers will recall Sophie was killed in 2007 for being different, protecting her boyfriend when they were attacked by a group of youths.

The set was curated to lead the audience through the story of Death Ingloria’s second comic, Death Ingloria II: Death By Admin, using three tracks from The Wolf Onboard album, to set the scene. The Escape opened the set with its chunky chords and riffs getting heads nodding. Battle Stations, a slower more modern sounding song, followed a long animation, before the pace picked up again with As Dark Knights Rise, with the boss of K.K. (the hero in the animations) dictating what activities were banned by the company. We Use it as a Weapon, also a modern rock song, with an acoustic break in the middle followed, ensuring that the set was not one-paced and of the same volume. In Ritual of Ridicule, K.K. is tasked with cataloguing the biscuits at the company. A short heavy breakdown followed, during which K.K. inadvertently launches missiles leading to the destruction of mankind. A Posthumous Suggestion from the first comic book concluded the set, supported by a lyric video.

The band was supplemented by backing tracks with harmonies and other musical parts. I’ll admit I found the screen distracting at times, making it difficult to concentrate on the music. However, it supported the story very well and enhanced the understanding of the narrative.

Supporting Ward XVI in Cardiff was Incursion, and our photographer Marty Moffat captured some cracking shots of the band in action as you can see below!

wardXVI2022cardiff10

Metamorphosis, part two of a three-part concept, was released in 2020 by Ward XVI (pronounced Ward Sixteen), but only now have they been able to tour the album. They play the album in full chronologically, but a Ward XVI performance is not like many others, with the band being supported by two ‘actors’ who play various parts during the performance, as the story unfolds.

The biggest challenge for the band was to fit four band members and the numerous props onto the small stage, whilst allowing sufficient space for the actors to perform. Somehow, the band managed to commence the set with two wardrobe-like stage entrances, a bed, a cot, and a toy box as well as the usual band equipment and members.

All the band, and for the majority of the time, the actors too, were decked out in monochrome outfits, costumes and make-up, representing the inmates of Ward XVI, a ward in a mental hospital, based on the real life Whittingham Hospital in Preston that closed in 1995.

The band’s songs are a melting pot of styles with fairground music supplementing the metal, prog and doom. It sounds slightly bonkers, but works within the creativity of the concept. Psychoberrie takes the vocals, perched on a small area of the stage for much of the set, but she performs with accomplished aplomb, also doing her bit of thespian work, as the story unfolds. Doktor Von Stottenstein on guitar plays some evocative solos that complement the music well, with the solid rhythm section of Wolfy Huntsman on bass and Bam Bam Bedlam handling drumming duties.

We were entertained by eight foot tall puppets, a monster, a murder, the disposal of the body in a dustbin, various face masks, and some of the acted scenes taking place in the audience. This was a show, supplemented by well-crafted music telling the story. If you haven’t seen Ward XVI, I recommend that you do, and be prepared to be entertained and delighted by a fabulous spectacle.

View all images

Shopping cart
There are no products in the cart!
Continue shopping
0