Live Review: "Rockin' By The River" – Saltash

This time however, a spark had been struck, and behind the scenes a group of people were encouraging it to burn. The venue, the bands themselves, and a myriad of other supporters put the gig on anyway… and it was a massive success with a packed venue. Aaron Buchanan lauded it as the best gig on the tour, and a legend was created. Fast forward a few months: the success of the Bad Touch gig encouraged an active Facebook group consisting of fans and band members called the “New Wave of Classic Rock” to promote their own showcase – “Rockin’ By The River”. The evening would be a charity night, with all the bands playing for fuel money alone. The proceeds would go to the venue. You see, Livewire isn’t just a youth club, it is a ground-breaking project that puts music at the centre of the lives of young people, and gives them a creative outlet that both helps them fill their time and offer support for those who may be going through challenging times. Famous names litter their website (Pete Townsend and Brian Johnson among them), and the support they have received means that behind the bland facade lurks a large stage, superb lighting rig, and professional sound system that would be the envy of any commercial venue (alongside a pool table and somewhere to hang out over a Coke, obviously!). Bands clamoured to support. The idea of an auction of donated merchandise quickly became so successful that it would have taken longer to conduct than the entire mini-festival, and tickets flew out at the insane price of £10 per ticket. (Yep, £10, for five bands, that HAS to be the best value gig ever!). Battling against a storm that hit during the day, we arrived as doors opened at 6pm, were welcomed in by the promoters themselves (Security? No hi-vis wearing scowlers here, thank you very much!), scouted the merch… then walked straight back out of the door! Livewire is a youth venue and so doesn’t have a licence, so the solution, adding to the overall laid back uniqueness of events here, is to pop next door to the pub for a take-away pint (cash only!). All that is needed is a food stall outside, and it really would be the best little festival in the West rather than a typical gig! MC for the evening was Pete K Mally who led the auction of more unique donations between sets with humour and skill, as well as introducing the bands and building anticipation between sets. First up were lively trio Circle Of Crows, led by the effervescent Kyle Gormley on guitar and vocals, backed by a strong rhythm section of Josh Smith on bass and Steve Sudlow on drums. For a first band on stage, at an early hour, they really set the standard with a very high energy performance that ensured the already pretty full venue rocked from the opening notes. I have seen far less impressive bands support higher up on bills at much bigger venue. The friends I went with were similarly impressed. “Falling” particularly impressed with an immense bass line, powerful drums, and a killer riff. ‘Home team’ Ethyrfield followed. These guys genuinely scare me with just how much potential they have. It would be easy to review their set by focussing on how young they are, but that would miss the point! Teenagers shouldn’t be playing at Bloodstock, writing their own material, or playing with such natural confidence and ability! The fact that they have been playing together for nearly five years is what raises them far above their physical ages and makes them one of the most exciting metal prospects in a very long time. With Zach Cornish on bass and vocals, Ben Cornish on lead and vocals, and Dan Aston on drums, their set, particularly “Show Me God” and “Bag Of Bones” shows how their stagecraft has improved since I last saw them a few months back. Their skyward trajectory continues. Continuing the trio theme, but very much a contrast, were (mostly) Welsh rockers Häxan. Full of smiles and fun, Sam Bolderson on guitar and vocals leads the way, paired with Harriet Wadeson on bass. Tonight, they were backed by Flowerpot drummer Jess. With some great vocal harmonies, we were treated to some cracking rock of the more “‘n Roll” variety that gets your head bobbing and your feet tapping. Although battling a few technical problems, they didn’t let them get in the way. As the set went on, I enjoyed them more and more. Imagine Joan Jett singing to Angus Young’s chugging guitar, and you are on your way to their very enjoyable sound. The ‘special guest’ slot and main support was snatched up by SKAM, travelling all the way from their Leicester base to do their thing. Now, after such a long drive, you would allow a certain tiredness on stage. Maybe give them a couple of songs to get into the groove. Understand if they weren’t quite at their best. Not a chance! I have seen SKAM several times, and tonight they were simply incendiary! You know you will get a good set from these guys: their songs are catchy, the lyrics intelligent, the musicianship top notch, and they are a visual feast. Tonight though, there was something extra. Occasionally, you are privileged to be at a gig where the band bring it. The crowd responds, so the band up their game a notch further. The crowd respond again, and then it all gets a bit organic and something special happens. This was one of those nights. Matt Gilmore is always a photographer’s dream on stage, but his energy levels tonight were off the scale. Steve Hill ripped riff after riff and solo after solo out of his guitar and brother Neal Hill battered hell out of his kit. To end the set, Steve left the stage and went walkabout before disappearing out of the door, leaving Matt pummelling his bass to invisible guitar before it returned at the back of the stage. I was exhausted just watching. The reaction from the crowd as SKAM took a bow said it all. Until King Creature took to the stage, we had been enjoying a series of three-piece bands. To varying degrees, three-piece bands are, for me, a skirmish. The guitar lays down a rhythm for most of the song but then, occasionally, strikes forward with a blow, then returns to that defensive rhythm. King Creature, with twin guitars and a crushingly heavy sound, are like watching a full blown battle. It is an assault of both rhythm and lead at the same time. Guitarists Matt K Vincent and Dave Evans swap lead and rhythm duties seamlessly, not to mention the times when they join together to play deliciously harmonic twin guitar lines. Dave Kellaway is a powerful presence between them, bass slung low, growling out the vocals. Jack Sutton-Bassett drives everything forward from the back, ensuring the assault doesn’t let up. “Wrath” has an immense riff, “Down In Flames” gets down and dirty, “Fortune Teller” puts the lead line front and centre, “Lowlife” is simply crushing, and “Power” is just that. A lovely touch was when the guys interrupted their set to allow the other bands and key organisers to come on stage and take a bow before returning to the assault. The next “Rockin’ By The River” is already being planned. Do yourself a favour: join the group, watch the announcements, plan a weekend away in Devon, bag some tickets, and come and support a great venture. Just bring cash if you want a beer or two! It’s a long steep hill to the cashpoint if you don’t! Review and images: Rob Wilkins [gallery type='flickr' user_id='132278830@N06' view='photosets' photoset_id='72157707646421644' media='photos' columns='3' tag_mode='any' sort='date-posted-desc' per_page='176' layout='square' caption='title' thumb_size='s' main_size='z' ]]]>

Check Also

Bob Dylan – UK Tour Announcement

ITB are honoured to announce the Rough and Rowdy Ways 2024 UK tour by Bob …

Review: Lodestar – ‘Zonen’

How to begin a review of Lodestar’s new album ‘Zonen’? Mention what has happened worldwide …

Richie Kotzen announces new album NOMAD, out Sept 27th

LOS ANGELES, CA – July 15, 2024 ­– Guitarist/singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Richie Kotzen has signed a label …