|Rock & Roll Circus Xmas Charity Bash – Abertillery, Dolls House – 10 December 2016|
|Written by Nev Brooks|
|Tuesday, 13 December 2016 06:00|
Do you know the feeling, sometimes you just get gigged out, in need of a rest, some time away from the live circuit? Doesn’t look like it this year for me: I’ve seen some stunning stuff over the last few weeks from the Levellers, to the Damned, taking in Jaya the Cat, as well as catching the Nick Cave movie ‘One More Time With Feeling': all of which have had an impact on me in a very different way.
Now the Rock & Roll Circus has been up and running for a while now (the first show taking place as far back as 2011), beginning as a radio show before moving into gig promotion… but gig promotion with a difference: never for personal profit, always to help out local charities and good causes, making them a very definite candidate for a social enterprise nomination for the impact they have on not just the local community, but the much wider UK music scene.
I stepped in to help give Ceri and Paul a break once a month and play some of the more extreme ends of the Punk, Industrial and just Downright strange stuff that is exploding all over the UK. But lets put it out there: the Rock & Roll Circus is one of the premier shows out there, tirelessly promoting the new rock/metal scene, championing the metal underground and wouldn’t have it any other way.
They have picked up plaudit after plaudit for the strength of their music bills, getting stronger and stronger event by event, and tonight it showed how far the guys have come. Sold out well in advance and with a crowd from all over the UK - Scotland, Ireland, Manchester, Liverpool and Bolton to name just a few of the places mentioned to me in conversation. Sadly, the local community was sorely under represented, a very definite valleys cover band malaise having taken root.
Missing the Friday night owing to a prior commitment and being stuck on the M25 ring road out of London for let’s just say an exorbitant amount of time, I arrived Saturday mid-afternoon just prior to Manchester’s Twisted Illusion: in fairness they struggled with equipment issues and played a shortened set, but set the stall out as a classic rock/metal band, finishing off with Sabbath’s ‘Heaven And Hell’; vocally there was more a hint of the Scorpions’ Klaus Mein than Ronnie James Dio, but an interesting beginning for yours truly. Chatting to a group from Manchester about the bands I’d missed earlier, Kikamora got a special mention as one to watch, but Fallen Temples and Black Water Chemistry had also set the bar high for acts to follow.
Next up Fahren, from Nottinghamshire, I have to be honest absolutely nailed it a cracking set grounded in the new sound of metal but with a hell of a front man, professionally setting out their stall and notching the stage craft up a gear, these are definitely one to watch and I’d be really surprised if they didn’t break out of the underground and push the next level really hard: much better than half the shit I’d taken the time to watch at any number of Download festivals. Always the sign of a good band, as the set progressed the venue got fuller and fuller, the people drawn in by the sheer enthusiasm, and the crowd pretty much stayed’ til the end if the night.
Next up we got Stone Broken from Walsall: initially vocally not quite there in the mix but as the set developed that big arena sound shone through a la Nickelback/Shinedown but with a bit more of an edge, not quite succumbing to the commerciality.
Following on and next up Skam from Leicester again notched the bar just that little bit higher, led by that classic metal vocal and probably the cleanest sound so far; again a band pushing towards the next level and, with a new LP due in the new year, it could be their time. Did I say they set things up nicely for the next band with a stunning version of ‘War Pigs’? Daylight Robbery from Nottingham picked up the baton and hit that classic 90s metal vibe straight off, hinting at Van Halen, despite the sound gremlins. By this point the Dolls House is fuller than I’ve ever seen it and people just kept arriving.
Crowsaw are a band that I would suggest that everyone should check out, this power trio to me hint at Kings X at their best, pushing boundaries in a maelstrom of noise: powerful, intense but grounded in the history of rock, at times drawing on Hendrix/Zeppelin, at others the Chilli Peppers/Kings X, but all done in their own unique way. Great musicians playing great music.
Leaving just prior to the headliner Massive Wagons was a bit gutting but dad’s taxi had another appointment. speaking to people on the Sunday after they stole the show, topping off what was another massively successful show.
So over two days, 14 of the finest underground (not for long) rock and metal bands in the UK traveled to The Dolls House, Abertillery to support this annual charity bash, the Stepping Stones Appeal at Velindre Cancer Centre being the benificiaries. A special thanks from Paul and Ceri to the lads from FM for donating a signed acoustic guitar which raised £300. But that was just part of the final figure: overall £900 was raised. Hats off guys: what an outcome - and here’s to the next one!