Being one who frequently gets irritated at the lack of gigs in my city, it was a bit of a bummer to be forced to stay in on a night one happened! I couldn’t go to Hangar 34 and see Skid Row with Toseland and Bad Touch as hoped on the night before this show, owing to real life intervening, but it may have been for the best since all these gigs are taking their toll on my pocket! Fortunately March seems to be as mad as October these days for live bands playing, and this gig swiftly followed the one I was forced to miss.
REWS are yet another band I only found out about recently; a duo comprising guitarist Shauna Tohill and drummer Collette Williams (both contribute vocals) who have gained a reputation for their live shows. Described as ‘the female Royal Blood’ by BBC 6 Music’s Mark Radcliffe, that’s probably as much a millstone as it is a compliment. They’re far from the only pairing who have picked up the gauntlet thrown down by Messrs Kerr and Thatcher of course, but they have their own identity. The setting was in the basement of the Shipping Forecast, around the Ropewalks area of Liverpool where there are many bars, and with this night being St. Patrick’s Night you bet the streets were filled with Guinness hats and revellers draped in the tricolour! It was also a bitterly cold evening, which didn’t seem to put the partygoers off one bit but for me, I just wanted to get into this venue in one piece!
I got in to find openers Bribes already on, a local trio whose guitarist also took lead vocals. Their sound did rather overwhelm their surroundings, and it took the edge off their set for me – everything tended to meld together. If their guitar was a bit less ‘Iommi’ I might have got a bit more from this set, as it was I just about managed to spot that one over-driven guitar riff was a lift of Mötley Crüe‘s ‘Looks That Kill’. Maybe in a venue with a bit more space they’d come across better. Next up were St Helens ‘jangle pop’ outfit Scarlet, a quartet headed by Jessie ‘Scarlet’ Robinson. They’ve been around for a few years now, though this was the first time I’d seen them live. Their recorded material is a bit too indie-lite for my Metallic tastes but live they have more ‘wallop’, courtesy of guitarist Adam Cunliffe and drummer Conor Williams. It was the latter who stood out for me in this band, with some nifty drum patterns.
REWS spent quite a while setting up on this small stage before striking up, doing so with a cheery roar from Shauna Tohill. Being Irish herself, the occasion (plus, no doubt, Ireland’s Grand Slam win in the Six Nations) must have put her in good spirits for this show, which she revealed was their first in Liverpool. Opening with ‘Let It Roll’ she and Collette Williams quickly got into the groove. ‘You’re all very shy’, she remarked to the crowd who took a little while to warm up, to be honest but the pair did get a few at the front to shake their booties (and play air guitar or even drums 😉 ) as the night progressed. With only two people, you need a good drummer to drive the whole thing along and Collette Williams is certainly that. She provided strong backing for her colleague, who frequently swapped between her two Telecasters and had an array of effect pedals to change the tone of those axes. Vocally, they sounded excellent, the voices blended so well. Using a lazy comparison of my own, they reminded me a little of South Africa’s The SoapGirls – they had that same fuzzy guitar attack and strong lead vocal. The closest they get to that ‘Royal Blood’ sound is probably with ‘Miss You In The Dark’, that one is reminiscent of the Bloodsters.
By the end of this year REWS will be known to a lot more people and be playing much bigger places than the basement of a pub, so it was good to catch this duo on their way up to the o2 Academies of this world and beyond. Hopefully they’ll return to Liverpool a few more times before they make the leap to those bigger stages.