Review: SKAM + Support @The Exchange, Bristol

Classic British rock act, SKAM are a band you get the feeling are every much in the ascendance at the moment. With a fresh recording contract with OFF YER ROCKA Records, and after successful appearances at HAMMERFEST, STEELHOUSE Festival and SOS Festival, here we are at the Exchange, Bristol on the last night of their national headline tour, promoting their fine sophomore album, ‘Peacemaker’.

Opening proceedings were young, local four-piece, STONEHEAD. As their name might suggest, we were treated to a thick slice of what genre-lovers would label Stoner Rock. Thick, bass-heavy grooves tumbled out of the PA, chased by some killer riffs. Of particular note was vocalist, Wilf’s delivery. He carried the maturity, in his gravelly tones, of one at least twice his age. A strong set, appreciated by those who made early doors.

Main support came from Welsh 3-piece THE TEXAS FLOOD. Now, I don’t know what they’re putting in the pumps at The Duke in Neath, but it’s having one helluva effect! The Texas Flood are regulars there, as are the awesome Buffalo Summer. If you like those guys, you’re going to love these!

The set consisted of an eclectic mix of blues-infused southern groove, with a hint of anthemic stadium rock and a smattering of funk (thanks to Ben Govier’s exquisite bass playing), that all came together to create something truly wonderful. Tom Williams provided the rock-solid platform for Govier’s grooves to build on, from which Tom ‘Sawyer’ Bradford’s guitar and vocals soared. Another point-to-note was their stagecraft. I don’t recall a single moment of silence throughout their 40 minute set. The momentum was maintained throughout, with either a rhythm linking songs, or Bradford continuing to engage the crowd whilst re-tuning. These things matter.

And so, with barely time to catch our breath, the main event!

Three was definitely the magic number tonight. Another 3-piece, Leicester’s SKAM walked on stage to the Western-inspired intro track, ‘Langundo’, and, just like the album, gave us a hearty slap in the face with the stomping, straight-ahead rocker, ‘Make You Pay’. We got two more equally brisk songs, before singer/guitarist Steve Hill announces they were going to take it down a bit. Two slower numbers follow, ‘Hard Times’ (I say slower… Skam have this knack of writing ‘builders’. Songs that start off soft, quiet, beautiful, but at some point, explode into full-blown rockers, often punctuated with a screaming solo!), and ‘The Wire’.

Normal service is resumed with ‘Holy City’, a typical Skam song. A straight-ahead rocker, rhythm-led, and catchier than Ebola!

After oldie, ‘Revealing’, came the personal highlight for me, ‘Precious Stone’, a mid-tempo, emotionally charged opus, with a sublime solo. I’d have been happy to end it there, but there were still plenty of treats in store, including the title track from the current ‘Peacemaker’ album, all performed supremely, with bags of energy, complete with an abundance of ‘rockstar shapes’ being thrown out by Matt Gilmore (bass) and Hill, all driven home by Ray Peverill’s tub-thumping.

The crowd chanted for more, and they got it. ‘Massacre’ rounding off an evening of finest grade rock (from all parties).

Skam’s headline tour may have finished, but they’re still out there… supporting AIRBORNE on the English leg of their tour. If you’re going to one of those shows, get there early. You’ll be in for a treat!

Review and Images by Rob Nankivell


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