The Virginmarys - York, The Duchess - 26th February 2013 Print E-mail
Written by Ben Hughes   
Friday, 08 March 2013 03:20



Following hot on the release of debut long player 'King Of Conflict' Macclesfield three piece The Virginmarys head out on a small headline tour to promote that same album. I have noticed their name has been cropping up in my general music chat for the last year or so, highly recommended by many as ones to watch live. A date at The Duchess is a must see as far as I am concerned, especially as their album has not been out of my stereo since I got hold of it.


The first thing I have to say about tonight though is that it is not as busy as I was expecting, it was far from empty but I was expecting it to be packed out. I can only put that down to the 'end of the month/beginning of the year' syndrome and a lack of cash, because this band have just released a blinder of an album, they have a growing live reputation and the US seems to be taking an interest, so where is everybody tonight? Why is it not packed out? The second thing I have to say is that The Virginmarys are mighty fine live and don't fuck about.


After a short intro tape and bathed in red light for the majority of the set they walk on and singer/guitarist Ally Dickaty proceeds to rip straight into the glorious riff to 'Just A Ride' on his low slung, jet black and weathered Les Paul. It's a standout track on an album with many highlights and the first of many inspired, quality, riff heavy songs littered with melodies and hooks you will swear you know already. 'Out Of Mind' follows just as it does on the album, the slow building refrain of the song is classic, simple, yet powerful in that AC/DC sort of way, as Ally sings "everybody's out of their fookin' minds" his accent giving it that certain cheeky, Northern charm.


The flailing armed powerhouse that is Danny Dolan, kitted out in striped top and braces, is like a mini Keith Moon behind that big bass drum of his. He doesn't so much play his kit, more like thumps the living daylights out of it. He brings definite power to angst fuelled tracks like 'Dressed To Kill' and the anthemic 'Lost Weekend', one of the greatest moments on stage tonight. Ally sings up at the mic, legs bent and apart, Les Paul slung low reminding me of a young Billie Joe Armstrong, his gritty vocals and guitar style a match made in rock 'n' roll heaven.


There is minimal interaction with the crowd from the band apart from the odd "Hey, how ya doin?" and "Thanks for coming out tonight" from Ally, yet the simple acknowledgement is enough, the entertainment is in the music and the band are animated and energetic throughout.


They do benefit from a great sound tonight from a PA that has its ups and downs from band to band in this venue to be honest. It's not over-loud for the size of venue, the vocals are crystal clear and the instruments can all be heard, which does make a difference.


Mixing up album tracks and older songs such as the folky Levellers vibe of 'Keep Me On The Run' and the rawer 'Off To Another Land' prove without a doubt that this band have more than enough songs up their collective sleeves to floor the competition. The single 'Dead Man's Shoes' is played mid-set tonight and is greeted by the crowd with a roar of approval like an old friend.


The Virginmarys deal in riffs and melodies that are bluesy in feel, like AC/DC with Grunge tinged angst, and yet a definite punky attitude. Sure they ain't doing nothing new, but it's the way they do it that is so damn fine to these ears.


Encore time sees Dickaty return to play the emotive 'Stripped', a hidden gem on the debut album as a silent crowd listens to every word, including bassist Matt Rose who sits cross-legged on the floor with his bass on his lap. Final song 'Bang Bang Bang' is a true blast to finish the evening off in style, the speeded up ending bringing an energetic climax to the set.


Every now and then a band comes along that are a cut above the rest, something special in a sea of bands vying for your attention. The Virginmarys feel like one of those bands to me, their songs are instantly satisfying and contain pretty much everything I look for in a rock 'n' roll band and that excites me. Flying the flag high for British Rock you need this band in your life, now go and see them and you too can say you were there when they were playing half full rooms, because they won't be for much longer if there is any justice in the world.




To visit The Viginmarys store on Amazon - CLICK HERE