Caught Live: IDestroy (supporting The Men That Will Not Be Blamed For Nothing), Live Rooms Chester, 20th March 2018

Halfway through the opening number of headliners The Men That Will Not Be Blamed For Nothing’s set, and their guitarist stopped dead mid-song. Spotting that the (admittedly sparse) crowd was dotted around the floor, he demanded everyone move to the front, in front of a line in the floor ‘or we won’t play another note!’ When he singled out your correspondent for not complying, he lost me there and then. Having decided I wasn’t going to be bossed about by some fella that I’d never clapped eyes on before, who was in Alice Cooper-esque face paint, I proceeded to step further away from the demarcated ‘line’ until I was back at the bar, or even sat down on the sofas to the side of the hall from where I watched the remainder of their set.

Of course, I wasn’t here to see that band, though I have to admit grudgingly that their set of punk fused with metal, laced with doses of anarchic humour, was pretty good. Had the guitarist not rubbed me up the wrong way so soon into their set, I might have taken closer order – but no, I was here to see Bristol ‘party punk’ trio IDestroy who have just released a new EP ‘Pure Joy Of Life’, which received an encouraging review in Kerrang! mag.  I’ve seen this band numerous times over the past 18 months or so, mostly in tiny venues, and was looking forward to their appearance on a bigger stage. Opening with their eponymous song ‘Idestroy’ they immediately launched into an unrelenting set of power pop/punk anthems. Vocalist/guitarist Bec Jevons soon took command of this stage and the crowd, which was increasing in number at the front as the set progressed.

They have a hard-hitting sound, with a rhythm section straight out of the top drawer featuring human dynamo Becky Baldwin on thumping, insistent bass and Jenn Haneef, who was operating in near darkness at the back of this stage but made her presence felt with powerful, driving rhythms. All that gives the platform for Bec Jevons, who ripped out solos, threw herself across the stage and threw plenty of ‘shapes’ into the bargain. Her guitar sound was heavy too, and the trio had at least one ageing headbanger on the barrier  forgetting that he wasn’t 23 any more 😉

Most of their repertoire to date got played in this set, all five tracks from the new EP including their cover of the Gossip’s ‘And You Know…’ plus ‘Annie’ and ‘98%’ from their double ‘A’ side single of last year, as well as material from their earlier EP. They have the players, they have the frontwoman to engage any crowd and most importantly, they have the songs. Many of these songs are laden with hooks as well as powerchords, so you’re singing them back to yourself at the bar later, or even on the trip home. When you have a talented songwriter in your ranks as this band do, you’ve got a chance.  This was their first appearance in Chester, and they’re welcome back here (or to Liverpool – I keep asking them, haha!) – any time.

Following this tour IDestroy will play dates in Continental Europe, and there will doubtless be more UK appearances later in 2018, around Becky Baldwin’s (she is also a member of international all-girl rockers DORJA, and UK metallers Fury) other commitments this year. When they come around again, get to a show if they’re anywhere near you.

IDestroy Facebook Page


5 – Delightful


Caught Live: REWS (with Scarlet/Bribes) Shipping Forecast Liverpool 17th March 2018

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.


Jessie ‘Scarlet’ Robinson

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.


4 – Deserving

Caught Live: MILK TEETH (with FangClub, Nervus) Buyers’ Club Liverpool 15th March 2018

Another night and another gig by a band about whom I had little previous knowledge! The reasons for attending were two-fold: first of all they came recommended by fellow gig-going friends of mine; secondly and more importantly, they bothered to come to Liverpool! There was a gig up the M62 which tempted me on this night (Dan Patlansky), which would have been more up my street but it’s good to take an occasional step out of your comfort zone, yes? 😀

This venue is new to me, despite being sited in my city. It’s set back from the road (on Hardman Street, close to the Philarmonic and the university area) opposite Magnet, a venue which is soon to cease hosting gigs. Going off this visit, the Buyers’ Club could well fill that gap in the city’s live scene. A small but not claustrophobic upstairs room, there’s a pretty good stage and PA, with room for moving (and moshing, as I would find out!) with a merch table to the back and a small bar. I reckon it could handle up to about 200, by my estimation about 100 showed to this gig and there was plenty of space.  When I got in, openers Nervus were coming to the end of their set. I’d have to catch these again on another night, although they sounded loud and rocky enough I didn’t see enough to make any sort of call about their music.

Next band up were FangClub, a trio who played loud shouty rock anthems, whose vocalist/guitarist played a Fender Jaguar and had shoulder-length dyed blonde hair. If he were left-handed, and the bassist a bit taller, they’d have had me thinking I was Sam Tyler and I’d travelled back to 1991 (!) They did look – and sound – close to a rather more famous trio from Aberdeen, WA but played with enough fire to get a moshpit going among the youthful element of this audience. As that certainly doesn’t apply to me any more, I got out of the way of one over-enthusiastic kid’s flailing limbs sharpish and watched this set from further back! Obvious comparisons aside, these were a good live band and worth a look when they come around again.

I watched Milk Teeth from even further back, expecting the moshpits to intensify if anything (hey, I’ve not long got over a fractured ankle – I don’t want another one at my age!) and so watched three guys and a girl make their way through the crowd to the small stage, and strike up. The band play short, snappy punk/rock anthems led by bassist/singer Becky Blomfield, though vocally she is well supported by guitarist Billy Hutton. The two voices harmonised well, offsetting the hard-hitting guitar to an extent. Their material is similar in feel to that of IDestroy I thought, perhaps not quite as catchy but in that ballpark. Sure enough the moshing soon began and there were even circle pits going, encouraged by the band’s other guitarist Chris Webb. They did change pace mid-set with a couple of acoustic numbers, even throwing in a bit of the Foo Fighters’ ‘Everlong’ for good measure! Another ‘surprise’ they had promised pre-gig turned out to be one number where drummer Oli Holbrook swapped places with Hutton, getting a brief moment in the spotlight alongside the frontwoman. That was another moshfest, of course! The set featured material from their recent EP’s ‘Be Nice’ and ‘Go Away’ as well as some from their 2016 album ‘Vile Child’, plus one or two older cuts. All of it was new to me, of course (!)

A decent night then, apologies for lack of pictures but there was no way I was going anywhere near the front this time around! 😀

3 – Decent


Caught Live: Sumo Cyco (with Skarlett Riot), Live Rooms Chester 14th March 2018

Indirectly, it was a dodgy curry that meant I came to this gig. Not consumed by me, but by Little Caesar vocalist Ron Young following his band’s show in Manchester. They were supposed to play at the Live Rooms the next night, but the gig was cancelled on the morning of the date after he suffered what we shall diplomatically call an ‘upset stomach’ (!) Putting aside my disappointment at that (they’re a band I have yet to see although I’ve been a fan since 1990), when I contacted the venue they advised that as I bought the ticket there, I’d have to return in order to get a refund. It was easier to do that at another gig, and as this gig came along a few days later, the refund was promptly used to take in Sumo Cyco instead!

I’ll readily admit that the Canadian hard rock/punky foursome are one of those bands I’ve heard of, but not a lot by. Several friends of mine do know about them however, and I found a few of those had come to Chester for this gig. Openers were Skarlett Riot, a band I do know all about having seen them at this same venue recently. This time around they were playing with a stand-in bassist (Tim Chambers, of Sister Shotgun) as regular bass player Martin Shepherd sat this tour out. The set they played was similar to that I saw late last year here, with singer Chloe ‘Skarlett’ Drinkwater once again doing without her guitar, concentrating on vocal duties. They were, to coin a phrase, hard, fast and heavy! Their material has definitely taken a turn towards the darker side of late, pretty much everything they did was out and out metal, though the bass-heavy sound didn’t do them too many favours, swamping guitarist Danny Oglesby (but not his drummer brother, Luke!) They still got a good reception from this crowd with an energetic set and some fun from Skarlett herself, posing for a few cameras aimed in her direction!


Chloe ‘Skarlett’ Drinkwater of Skarlett Riot

It was the guys of Sumo Cyco who bounded on stage led by their guitarist Matt ‘MD13’ Drake, geeing up the crowd before launching into their opening number. That soon got the crowd bouncing, as singer Skye ‘Sever’ Sweetnam joined them, not exactly inconspicuous with pink hair and a black/white chequered jumpsuit! Their set was pretty unrelenting all night, with their music a sort of metal/ska/punk fusion designed to keep the crowd on their toes from first to last. It’s a lazy comparison to think of No Doubt (before their breakthrough) as a reference point, but one your correspondent grasped, having not heard a note from this group before they hit this stage! They don’t do any power ballads though, and this set was basically a workout for us on the floor. Occasionally ‘Sever’ joined us out front, she came off the stage and into the crowd numerous times, once going full ‘Joel O’Keefe’ and getting a drink from the bar mid-song, then slugging it on her way back to the stage! Throughout, the tempo was kept up by bassist Ken ‘Thor’ Corke and drummer Matt ‘Trozzi’.

An energetic and entertaining set then, and I understood why the lads I met up with at this gig were so enthusiastic about this band (they are more punk-orientated in their tastes than me, but loud guitar rock is loud guitar rock after all!) I took the chance to meet (and grab a snap) with Skye post-show and she was surprised to find I’d come along not knowing anything about them! She was pleased to find I’d enjoyed the set though, and I left clutching a copy of their most recent album ‘Opus Mar’. When they come back to this country I hope to catch them again, and I didn’t miss the opportunity to tell them we have venues in Liverpool too! 😉

4 – Deserving


EP: IDestroy ‘Pure Joy Of Life’ (self-released)

I first became aware of Bristol ‘party punk’ trio IDestroy around two years ago, via their bass player Becky Baldwin, who plays with multiple bands including DORJA, a band I’ve followed since their inception. In this outfit she is accompanied by drummer Jenn Haneef and singer/guitarist Bec Jevons, who also pens this band’s material. A lively trio with a nice line in upbeat, catchy power pop anthems, this release is their second EP and third release overall, following on from 2016’s ‘Vanity Loves Me’ and the ‘Annie/98%’ single of last year.


The five tracks on this EP are all short and to the point, with the longest (‘Alcohol & Vitamins’) clocking in at a relatively lengthy 3:34. Built over a steady 4/4 beat and prominent bass line, these songs have all the usual hallmarks including ‘whoa’ backing vocals,  guitars smashing in on the chorus and an overall sense of fun to the proceedings. ‘Lemons’ is a humorous song about someone who ‘ain’t no fun’, the theme being that whoever it is has ‘a face like you’ve been sucking on lemons’!
The new songs will slot into their set easily, and will give their followers plenty to bounce around the floor to.

IDestroy will tour the UK in the coming weeks as openers to The Men Who Will Not Be Blamed For Nothing, then play further shows in continental Europe. If you get the chance go along and experience some Pure Joy of Life!

IDestroy Facebook Page

4 – Deserving

Caught Live: Stone Broken (with Jared James Nichols, The Bad Flowers) Live Rooms Chester, 6th March 2018

You got the immediate impression of ‘taking it to the next level’ for Walsall foursome Stone Broken upon entering the main L1 room at Chester’s Live Rooms. There was a backdrop, screens with their logo printed on them and big lighting clusters. That did leave rather a ‘cul-de-sac’ on the stage for drummer Robyn Haycock, though that wasn’t an issue for the two opening acts.

Another pointer that this band are stepping up a level was the turnout; the place was already filling up nicely when openers The Bad Flowers took to the stage and just got busier as the night progressed. They had to open up the rarely-used balcony and it turned out this gig sold out on the night. With tours supporting both Glenn Hughes and Living Colour under Stone Broken’s belts, as well as inking a major-label deal late last year (they are now signed to Spinefarm Records, part of Universal), as well as support from radio station Planet Rock, the building blocks are all in place for this band to make the jump to bigger things. The band’s second album ‘Ain’t Always Easy’ has just been released by Spinefarm, and the label is also to reissue debut ‘All In Time’ later in the year.

The Bad Flowers, a Cannock trio comprising guitarist/vocalist Tom Leighton, bassist Dale Tonks and drummer Karl Selickis, didn’t mess around when they took to the stage. Somewhat cramped for room in front of the Stone Broken backdrops and an array of bass bins at the front to provide a ‘platform’, they played traditional but stoneresque hard rock, thanks to Leighton’s fuzzy guitar tone and Tonks’ fluid bass. The real star of this band is however the drummer, he really powered things along with some mighty hitting. These guys are worth checking out if they play any gigs local to you.


Tom Leighton of The Bad Flowers

Following this was Jared James Nichols, whom I last saw at this place but in the smaller L2 bar area. He had a much bigger crowd to warm up this time and some new material, as well as a new bassist in Gregg Cash. Guitar geeks will have noticed immediately his use of an Epiphone guitar (also that he’d scooped out the neck pickup, leaving a cavity!) and guitar snobs will hopefully have seen that it isn’t the name on the headstock which matters, it’s what’s in the fingers. Playing ‘fingerstyle’, the man from Wisconsin gave a fiery performance with that Epiphone, backed ably by Cash on the bass and Dennis Holm on drums. Clearly someone steeped in traditional American-style rock, his cover of Mountain’s ‘Mississippi Queen’ went down well with this crowd.

Stone Broken entered the stage like conquering heroes, cheered to the rafters from the moment they came on to the moment they took their bows. With a new album just released, they performed plenty from it but also found room for several of the favourites from ‘All In Time’.  They found themselves having to pause to take in the cheers on more than one occasion, especially when singer/guitarist Rich Moss declared that they’d sold this venue out, and that their new album had made the midweek charts. ‘Thanks for putting us, a little band from Walsall, into the national charts’ he said. With their drummer effectively tucked away in her little cubby hole on the stage, the frontman and the other two lads (guitarist Chris Davis, bassist Kieron Conroy) were all over the stage and onto that bass bin ‘platform’, having to dodge a low-hanging stack of speakers in the process! They didn’t hang about either, playing 14 numbers in just over an hour and still squeezing in a brief drum solo for Robyn Haycock!

This is the third time I’ve seen this band now, and they always gave me an impression of being influenced by numerous current American bands, especially Alter Bridge; they have that similar downtuned guitar sound, two axemen (one of whom is also lead singer) and quite a few singalongs not far removed from the early AB days. That perception was reinforced somewhat in the encore, when Rich Moss came back out alone, clutching an acoustic guitar. This was to perform ‘Wait For You’ (still their best song IMO) and the way this packed crowd picked up on it was so reminiscent of seeing Myles Kennedy do something similar with their own ‘Watch Over You’.  The reception Moss and the band got throughout obviously delighted them, though his requests for us to ‘go crazy’ for closer ‘Not Your Enemy’ were not entirely fulfilled. What he’d overlooked was that this crowd was full of old rockers (many a similar age to your correspondent!) and sorry Rich, but our knees aren’t what they once were!


The fact that bands such as this are pulling a crowd of people probably twice their own age rather than people of a similar age to themselves is something I’ve noticed at many gigs lately, and is a subject worthy of further discussion in a future blog post. Not everyone there was old enough to be their parents – I attended this gig with a friend and her daughter, who is the right age to be enthused by a hard working, hard rocking band such as Stone Broken as well as both their support acts. However if even newer rock bands are attracting a mostly 50-something crowd, one has to question how long this success can be sustained.  Rich, Robyn, Chris and Kieron won’t care one jot about people’s ages as long as there are people there to see them of course but this sort of music, played live and with enthusiasm by younger performers, really ought to be reaching their own age group. I’ve a good idea why that is, but that’s for another post.

I can’t speak for the rest of that sold-out crowd of course, but as one of those older fans what I can say is that so long as my legs hold out and my pocket permits, I’ll follow this band and plenty others for a few more years yet!

4 – Deserving



EP: Holly Henderson ‘Rust’ (self-released, download)

For 2018, Kent musician and songwriter Holly Henderson put the tagline ‘Don’t Assume My Genre’ on her social media profile. Wouldn’t dream of it, H (!)

Since leaving behind her days as a rhythm guitarist in a touring covers band, she’s branched out into several styles. She’s co-written songs in the punk and hard rock genres, and has written and produced her own material in a more chilled-out, and ambient style. In addition to all of that, she has been composing music for use in television, and has a full album in the can (recorded in LA with acclaimed guitarist Pete Thorn) for release later in the year.

This EP came as a bit of a surprise then, her third such release in a little over a year. Described by its creator as ‘dark pop’, ‘Rust’ comprises five tracks, leading off with ‘Mystery Man’; a song previously released as a standalone download. This track features her use of the ‘Guitar Triller’, a device to strike the guitar strings rather than pluck them. The effect is apparent on the track, giving her guitar a jangly tone, somewhat ‘sixties’ in feel.

The rest of the material is brand new; ‘Sailing’ is a mellow number with her breathy vocal over an ambient soundscape not far removed from her ‘Desert Wax’ EP; ‘Show Me Something’ is even more electronic, with beats and synth lines weaving over a deep bass line.  ‘Heat’ is a slow-burner, starting off with a gentle guitar noodle, it’s probably the most chilled-out track on what is a fairly relaxed offering, with a particularly soft, seductive vocal just sticking out over the instrumentation.  Final track ‘Lesson In Love’ (nothing to do with Level 42!) is the stand-out for me; beginning with a haunting synth tone (reminiscent of the opening of ‘A Clockwork Orange’ to these ears) it soon melds into another dreamy song with her mellow vocal over a string/synth effect.


‘Rust’ EP cover art by Holly Henderson

Holly is now developing a recognisable style; this EP has elements of both the previous two offerings, the dreamy soundscapes of ‘Desert Wax’ with some more conventional guitar and drums in the mix this time. Her voice is used as another instrument, just another colour in the pallette rather than  being pushed to the front. If you enjoyed either of the two previous EPs you will like this one, just as with those two offerings it’s best listened to of an evening, with headphones if you have good ones (!) to get the most from that carefully-woven soundscape.

All that said, as we have not heard her LA album yet, that is likely to be something completely different. Don’t assume her genre, as she says!

Holly Henderson ‘Rust’ EP on Music Glue

4 - deserving

4 – Deserving