Another band I’d only heard of days before this show – having found out about this band, and the gig via a Facebook post, once again the decision was made to check them out after the now-familiar ‘youtube test’. That gave me the impression of a heavy rock band with a blues base, but strong psychedelic tendencies. Enough to pique my interest, then! The weather didn’t help matters though, as the so-called ‘Beast From The East’ reached even our part of the world. It didn’t bring as much snow as it did to other parts of the country but the wind chill, allied to icy conditions out on the road would have persuaded people to stay indoors.
Studio2 seems to be heading back towards hosting more rock-orientated gigs again, after a spell when its focus was more towards jazz. With a good stage and floor offering decent sight lines, it would be good for several bands I follow who have been looking for a suitable venue to play in Liverpool. This evening however, I got in to find a band already on with what appeared to be an encouraging number there. It turned out that this was a four-band bill, with three local support acts and that the other people were mostly friends and family of the other bands! Not that I was aware of that while Widnes trio Strangers went through their paces. The best asset of this band was their bass player, who gave numerous tasty fills and even got a ‘lead bass’ solo in their last number! The material was a bit indie, a bit ‘XS Manchester’ for my taste, though they did play well.
Next band probably should have opened proceedings; The Auxiliary are a youthful quintet and ran through a series of covers with one of their own included. I’ll give them credit for guts, opening with Metallica’s ‘For Whom The Bell Tolls’ and for their singer, who despite looking a little reserved and staring at the floor rather than the audience, put a lot of effort into his performance. This will sound weird coming from a devoted Metalhead, but this band could improve things straight away if they just dialled back on the distortion a bit! Their cover of Radiohead’s ‘Creep’ was drowned in distorted guitar, even during the quiet verses thus rendering the ‘crunches’ leading into the chorus ineffective. The one cover that worked well was their take on ‘Breed’, it did come close to the Nirvana sound. Their original track, the name of which escapes me, was reminiscent of Oasis circa ‘Definitely Maybe’ because of that domineering distortion pedal. They have plenty of room for improvement but also plenty of time TO improve.
Third band up was Salvador who also hail from the surrounding areas; the quartet played original material but sounded typically indie to these ears. They weren’t anything like as distorted, which was a relief (!) but their songs didn’t latch in my brain, a decent live band but not my cup of tea.
While the supports were playing there was a lot of activity as the previous band was loading out, by the time Saint Agnes had set up and were ready to play the place had almost become deserted! Only a handful remained as the four-piece came on to a flurry of dry ice (we had plenty of real ice outside, there was no need!) and opened with their single ‘Merry Mother Of God Go Round’. Straight away they had something different going on, with vocals from singer/guitarist/keyboardist Kitty Arabella Austen and also from guitarist Jon Tufnell (presumably no relation!) Their sound is powerful, fuzzy, sludgy and has that ‘edge’ which marks them out as unlike most others out there. Frontwoman Kitty flits between instruments constantly, but still has that sensual allure that holds the attention. There’s a clear Zeppelin, or even a clear Sabbath influence in there, particularly in the rhythm section where they have a drummer in Andy Head who hits like he means it, and bassist Ben Chernett whose bass tones reminded me of Geezer in places. Their set included a reworked, darker cover of The Doors’ ‘Roadhouse Blues’ – if you were hoping for ‘the jig’ similar to how Quo used to do when they covered this song, forget it! 😀
This was a mightily impressive performance from a band about whom I had never heard about until this week, and I will definitely look out for these again. At the time of writing they are due to play in Chester on the 3rd March, and if possible I’ll get along. An exciting live band I look forward to seeing more from in the future.