Supermassive turn out as Mused set our souls alight.

Saturday 3rd March 2018.

Country wide we were still under yellow weather warnings as “The Beast from the East” and Storm Emma turned our towns and cities into white deserts. Snow drifts to rival sand dunes stopped workers, shoppers and school kids from going about their day to day duties. Half days and food frenzy shopping took place as people feared being secluded from the outside world in apocalyptic conditions. 

There was one place in Worcester though, where a united love of live music became stronger than the worry of whether, once you’d gotten there, would you be able to get home as it felt like glaciers would be forming, not melting, in the dead of night. 

That place was The Marrs Bar. 

Much loved Muse tribute band “Mused” were back, this time with support by a new local band, Nexus. The venue was the fullest I’ve seen it for a while, showing that a bit of bad weather won’t stop a loyal following of fans. Friends and family of Nexus helped make up the weather braving audience, but Mused have a well deserved following of their own, as the lads themselves are fairly local, hailing from around the West Midlands.

Nexus opened the night. The band is made up of singer Maddie, Tom on drums, James on guitar and Dave on bass. All members have emerged from the Worcester School of Rock and Performance, which gives young musicians of any ability the chance to learn new skills and use existing ones. Although all still young, and a recently established band line up, its fair to say, as soon as the band took to the stage, despite the obvious and understandable signs of nerves, they looked professional and more polished than you’d expect from their ages. Maddie was the quintessential Rock Chick, dressed in black,with red feather earring dangling from her left ear. Opening track “Had Enough” by Lower than Atlantis instantly made me notice that Maddies voice had the ability to make any cover they were going to throw at us into a version they could call their own.  When the strains of Nirvanas “Smells like teen spirit” started, I wasn’t worried that a personal favourite of mine wouldn’t be delivered well. Maddie appeared lost in the music as she belted the song out, and her voice effortlessly switched from low notes to high as required by the song, and the intensity in her voice was matching the crescendos of the talented musicians alongside her. I was impressed.  

In a tribute to the late Dolores O’Riordan, “Zombie” by The Cranberries was probably my favourite in the set, as it showcased the full range of Maddie’s vocals, hitting all the melodic high notes required. After “My House” by PVRIS, where Maddie states she finds it harder to do female vocal songs (Maddie, you are note perfect whatever you sing), we were treated to an untitled original song by the band. After a mellow start, with chilled out vibes, it leads into a frantic upbeat tune which sat perfectly amongst their choice of covers, leaving me with a sense of excitement about the future of this band. Royal Bloods “Little Monster”, Nickelbacks “How you Remind me”, Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love” and “Paranoid” by Black Sabbath followed, Maddie vocally keeping up and growing in confidence as the set went on. The rockier songs showing off the skills of the whole band with edgy guitar rifts and drums to raise the roof. The bands enthusiasm and love of music was clear to see, and their performance on the night was exceptional.

Final song of the set, fittingly, was “Hysteria” by Muse, which again didn’t disappoint me, or the eager Mused fans. The applause spoke for itself. 

It wasn’t long before Mused hit the stage. Fresh from watching the real Muse live stream a gig from Paris on social media on 24th February, I was excited to see Mused singer Carl emulate Matt Bellamys choice of outfit from that set, and the first thing I noted down in my trusty gig review notebook was “Red Trousers!”. As Drill Sergeant rang out across the venue, the audience dutifully replied “Aye, Sir” as the intro to Psycho played and we were all caught up in the moment. My favourite ever song to play when needing to let off steam, the Mused boys were spot on with choosing this as their opener. Snow? What snow? Muse only appeared on my musical radar in 2015, I was unfashionably late to the party but I’ve made up for lost time. The album that introduced me to them was “Drones”, so I admit to having a soft spot for any song from that, and I was happy to hear “Reapers” played next. 

It didn’t take much to get the crowd clapping out the beat to “Starlight”, a rare softer side of Muse which was note perfect by singer and band as a whole. Carl has a huge task on his hands to even get close to the range of Matt Bellamy, big shoes to fill. He not only fills those shoes, but stomps and jumps around the stage in them in his portrayal of the man himself. A back catalogue of songs followed, Supermassive Black Hole more well known by non Muse fans,into Muscle Museum, Hysteria, Hyper Music and The Handler. “New Born” seemed a crowd favourite with rhythmic clapping and chanting from a group of lads front and centre in front of the band. Mused are born performers, intent on delivering impeccable renditions of a live Muse performance, rather than just an accurate portrayal of a studio recorded album, from the ad lib interactions with each other on stage, to the musical rifts from one song into another. 

Bliss followed , and then we had “Madness”, which, since starting from Drones and working backwards, I’ve discovered is a bit of a Marmite song for the die hard Muse fans. I’m definitely on the love it team, and Mused embrace the song and deliver it with a passion that makes it hard for anyone listening not to admit they, too, love it a bit. 

By this point, my photographer friend  L had climbed up onto the side of the stage to capture some of the action. Whereas I’m listening, watching, looking around at the vibe of the audience, L focuses purely on the band,and through the lens, captures the essence of the performers themselves. She can tell if a band is into a song, caught up in the moment and focused in the zone, and she expertly times the press of her camera buttons to freeze time and forever capture a moment. She has photographed Mused on several occasions. And she absolutely loves doing it! The energy buzzes from the stage and down the lens. From certain angles Carl LOOKS like Matt, which only adds to the whole “effect” of the performance.

“Feeling Good” is an iconic cover by the Muse guys, and Mused do the song justice, right down to the megaphone section, a song that even non Muse fans can get behind and join in with, a classic, with a wicked twist. On a visual note, the red sparkly Cort guitar did not go unnoticed. Little details that add towards the stage persona. 

Resistance, Time is running out and Mercy kept the energy on stage and off at maximum. “Plug in Baby” always seems to get the crowd going and it was clear to see for a few couples this was “their song” and the opening screechy rifts sent them into a frenzy. Knights of Cydonia ended the set, an anthem among Muse fans and a song that Carl, Stu and Chris clearly love to perform. Highly instrumental, it really does show the skills and accuracy all three lads possess. No Muse song is easy to perform. Notes are fast and furious on the guitars, beats on the drum are critical to the song, not just an additional back ground beat as with some bands, but an essential part of the track, and vocally Matt is not easy to match. Clear to see, the band have fun. On stage with each other, and through crowd interaction, and that’s another reason to fall in love with these guys.

Chants of “more” echoed round the venue as the band made to go off stage. We knew they’d be back. Unsustainable plays as the band gear up for an encore. “Supremacy” is a song Mused have apparently never played at Worcester before, but the song went down a storm. “Uprising” is a well known Muse song, one of a handful I’d known before falling in love with them, and has become a personal triumphant song for me, so, although already hoarse and tired from singing and dancing all night, I kept going to adamantly claim that I would not be forced, degraded or controlled and that I would, indeed, be victorious. Music speaks to a lot of people, and to find an act that performs songs that have grown to mean so much to me at such a high standard is really the closest thing I’ll probably get to seeing the real band play. The dedication and commitment to the show is noticeable, but above all, the fun and engery they exude on stage is intoxicating. 

 The show was closed with “Stockholm Syndrome”, ending most definitely with a bang and not a whimper. From the outset, the setlist was a crowd pleaser, and if the set had continued for another hour I have no doubt in my mind that the Mused lads would not of strayed or wavered from brilliance. My feet however, probably couldn’t of danced anymore.

As the saying goes, all good things must, unfortunately, come to an end (but not before I had a fan girl moment of my own)

Carl, me, Chris and Stu.

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Mused Return to Worcester. Time is Running Out! 

What will you be doing this time next week?..
Will you be sat at home watching The Voice, a TV entertainment show centred around finding a new musical artist? You’d be watching that because you like music, right? Or will you be sat in a pub with your mates, the music so loud you can barely even hear each other anyway, so you decide to get up and dance but the song that comes on next is really not to your taste? 

Can I make a suggestion? Get down to your local music venues and go see some “LIVE” music. 

What will I be doing? Well, you see, I’m lucky, because my local music venue just happens to be hosting a gig by my favourite tribute band.

Mused return to The Marrs Bar on Saturday 3rd March and I for one, can not wait! 

I have never seen MUSE live. They only really came into my musical life in 2015, and since then, I’ve not had the money, or the time to sit on the phone trying to get tickets to fulfil my desire to see them. I love Muse. They are my go-to band when life is a bit, well, what can I say, crap? The iconic vocals of Matt Bellamy and the thrashing musical beats their songs provide and offer the perfect “scream it out” therapy. 

I have, however, seen MUSED. And shall I tell you something? They are awesome! 

Promotional Photo used by Mused

So in the run up to their return to Worcester, I thought I’d talk to the guys and let them tell you why you should come along and see them.

Introduce yourselves, who are Mused and how did you form?

We are Carl (Matt),  Stu (Chris)  & Chris (Dom) – Mused first formed about 5 years ago and the band has had a few changes over the years with Carl joining us 3 years ago and Stu about 2 1/2 years ago. 

We originally formed with an old school friend of mine (Chris) when we set up a punk covers band, we auditioned for a bass player and after a few sessions we realised how much we loved performing Muse songs, this then evolved us into a MUSE Tribute band as at the time there wasn’t one! Our singer left and that was when Carl auditioned and got the part. When our bass player left, Carl’s friend Stu came along to a studio and we just clicked instantly! The rest is history, we went from strength to strength over the years and now really enjoy what we do, and are all good friends which makes it good fun too!

I love that the band themselves are all good friends and that Mused was born from a love of performing Muse songs. The band members themselves have seen Muse live a few times, from Wembley, Ricoh Arena & LG Arena, so they know how the real band put on an electrifying performance. I can only imagine the atmosphere at a real Muse gig, but through Mused I can experience an accurate audio representation. Matt Bellamy hits high notes like no other artist I know, but Carl, well, you’ll just have to come and see for yourselves. I have so many favourite songs by Muse and I love to hear Mused play each of them, Psycho being a personal favourite, going back to my earlier “scream it out” comment. I wonder which the boys like performing…

Do you have a collective favorite Muse song to perform?

Ooo- there’s loads!! We always love Psycho, and have just reintroduced Supremacy which is great to do, we also love to do the old back catalogue like Muscle Museum & Deadstar.

Both times I’ve previously seen Mused perform has been at my local live music venue The Marrs Bar. Easily accessible using public transport, with parking nearby, it’s ideal for me as its literally at the bottom of my road, walking distance. Mused have been fortunate enough to play festivals and small venues alike. Returning to venues they have played before is a positive sign that they enjoy it, and that the crowds will turn up to support them. 

What has been your most memorable gig as Mused to date and why?

We love it at The Marrs Bar, this is one of our faves as its always a great crowd, and the staff are so easy to work with. We also love the big Festivals that we do over the summer months, its always great to see a crowd of thousands enjoy what we do 🙂

You’ve played Worcester a few times now, what can my home town expect from you guys this time around?

I would say a slicker performance! We always push to obtain perfection in what we do, Supremacy is a new track we’ve not done there before, and we’ve also put back in Hyper Music.

It sounds like Worcester is in for a fantastic show. What I’ve noticed about Mused, is that rather than trying to replicate Muse tracks straight from the albums, a lot of time and effort is put into recreating the live Muse concert experience , with the way they go from one song to the next. Carl has captured the essence of Matt perfectly, and from certain angles, the visual similarities are uncanny. I decided to ask them a bit more about how they learn the songs and recreate an overall Muse experience, aswell  as digging down deeper into their rehearsal process. 

Muse seem to be getting a bit of stick for their latest releases, Dig Down and Thought Contagion.. Personally I embrace the new sound, are you looking forward to the new album and learning new songs?

Yes definitely! We love Thought Contagion and do plan on doing it asap, but its just getting time to learn it in-between gigs and personal life! We are waiting to see how the track is done live so we pull off a live Muse performance!

 How long on average does it take you guys to learn a new track?

Not long actually, we tend to learn it ourselves at home, watch live performances and then get together to work on it together, generally gets done in a day.

Aside from Muse, who else musically inspires you?

Crikey, Loads! – Black Sabbath, Older punk bands like Echo & The Bunnymen, and new bands like Marmozets, Vukovi, The Joy Formidable.

Do you all enter a “character mode” when on stage to deliver a more accurate portrayal of Muse or is the stage presence natural now, as you really do a fantastic job?

Haha, well we do our best to look and dress the part, plus we put in as much stage presence as Muse for the show, do but we do keep our own personalities, hence Carl & Stu with Birmingham accents!!

Mused obviously love what they do, and its clear to see they have fun on stage as much as the crowd have fun watching them. I love that they “keep it real” with their own personalities shining through. 

When the quality of the music speaks for itself, they can afford to relax and enjoy what they do. Even more exciting news about next weeks gig, Mused have enlisted local hard rock band Nexus to be their support act.

Nexus – photograph by GiBrownie Photography

For me at least, Mused have Supremacy in the tribute band field. 

Roll on next week. 

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Life on Marrs – The Man in the Stars

10th January 2016.

The day the world lost the most flamboyant, influential, iconic and trail blazing  British singer/songwriter the universe has ever seen. After a career spanning five decades, every music lover I know was devastated by the loss of David Bowie. His music was, and of course still is, instantly recognisable. After his death, our airwaves were inundated with plays of his most famous hits, with no less than 8 of his songs ending up in the January 2016 top 100 UK charts. I never had an opportunity to see Bowie live, I don’t imagine many of you reading this did. By the time I was born, his musical career had already surpassed 10 years. 

Fast forward to 17th February 2018.

The Marrs Bar, Worcester. 

Bowie Tribute act “Aladdinsane” came to play. 

Billed as the greatest Bowie tribute in the UK and beyond, Paul Henderson and his band had big space boots to fill.

Opening aptly with Space Oddity, which was indeed Bowie’s first top 5 entry into the UK singles chart in July 1969, Paul, dressed in simple white shirt and black waistcoat, took to the stage with the famous line of “Ground control to Major Tom” and it became instantly apparent that the billing had been correct. Bowie used his natural baritone singing voice to storytell his songs, often not even trying to hide his heavy English accent. Yet his pitch and range was phenomenal. Paul was recreating that in his opening number, clearly showing years of dedication and real admiration for the man he was portraying. Paul once appeared on Stars in their Eyes, and having seen that performance, which in itself was spot on, its clear to see that since then, Paul has worked away at this persona and its paid off. So, an iconic song to open with, brave almost as its so well known, but absolutely the right choice to reel us in. 

After greeting the crowd and announcing it was their first time in Worcester, we were treated to Starman and then into Ashes to Ashes. The guitar is put down and Paul is able to showcase the moves and mannerisms of Bowie, and as the song peaks, the actions are more dramatic, and the whole sound and vision of Bowie that his advertising posters claim to offer, are showcased to their full extent. Although confident and out-going, I often thought Bowie always had a slight awkwardness onstage, which Paul carried out perfectly. The twitch of the head, the stilted but everso dramatic arm movements, it was uncanny. 

The tempo raised with a perfect rendition of Fame, fading out to strains of “War, what is it good for?”, exaggerated dance moves only added to the experience we were being treated to. I didn’t know the next two songs, Be My Wife and Boys Keep Swinging but, I have no doubt they were as vocally close to the originals as we’ll ever be lucky enough to hear, but I was soon brought back to familiarity with Let’s Dance and Changes. 

The Man who Sold the World and Moonage Daydream led up to the end of the first set, a personal favourite of mine, Life on Mars, delivered impeccably, suitably emotional. 

During the interval, I took a moment to look around. My trusty photographer friend L had found out that a fair few people there had travelled from Paul’s home town and surrounding areas, and there was a handful of our own local crowd there. Everyone was buzzing about what they’d seen so far, eagerly waiting for more.  

The second set came with an outfit change, more of the ilk of Bowie’s Glam Rock alter ego Ziggy Stardust. “The Jean Genie” from the 1973 album “Aladdin Sane” saw the crowd get on their feet and there they stayed for the rest of the evening. “Ziggy Stardust” and “Stay” led into “Heroes”, which saw Paul come to the front of the stage and the subtle backing music left his impeccable vocals exposed. We were treated to a bit of Sax with a rendition of ” Sorrow”, followed by “Time”. A song I didn’t know, but felt very show tune, and Paul gave a stage show performance, dropping to his knees and giving all the emotion the song called for. 

Another crowd pleaser was “China Girl”.  By now the dancing crowd were in full swing, and I noticed a girl dancing barefoot with her partner, younger than me but clearly loving the iconic music as much as the older crowd. A woman with long blond hair danced alone, the music clearly running through her veins. Hello Spaceboy, John I’m only Dancing, All the Young Dudes and Queen Bitch followed, taking us to the last song of the night, Rebel Rebel. A rocky tune to dance to, some of the band went out onto the dance floor and the crowd were left wanting more. A short walk off stage led to an encore of White Light/White Heat, another song I didn’t know, but one that I’ll now forever remember.

A repeated line asked “What’s that sound?”. 

The sound that night was most definitely Bowie. 

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Unwrapping The Uncover Xmas Party

Every gig I’ve been to since starting my blogging, I’ve enjoyed. Well, I’ve actually loved. I’ve often wondered what I’d do if I was invited to review a gig and it wasn’t to my taste. I’m hoping I never have to find out.

On 21st December I went along to the Uncover Xmas Party at local live venue The Marrs Bar. Four acts were on the billing, and out of those four, I’d only ever seen one before. 

In summary, here’s how the night went.

Opening act was Valence. Three lads from Malvern who took to the stage with the aim to entertain us. Their music was fun pop-punk, and reminiscent of a much cooler version of Busted, without the cheesy jumps and kicks around the stage. Musically, one of their songs reminded me of 90s band EMF, whose alternative sound saw me through my college days. They were having fun, and that translated well to the cosy crowd that had braved the winter elements. The lads closed their set after thanking the audience for their support of unsigned bands, with a great rendition of All The Small Things by Blink 182, giving us a chance to have a sing along. 

Next onstage was the beautiful one woman band, Poppy WS. A barefooted vision in red took to the stage and in her opening song alone, a rhythmic cover of Falling, she played several instruments effortlessly, guitar, keyboard, tambourine.. the list goes on. I was fascinated by her use of the looping pedal, and I believe it was her first time using it live onstage. I’ve seen one used once before, by an Ed Sheeran tribute act, but Poppy used it in a more obvious way, melodically layering percussion sounds and vocal harmonies over the background of her tracks. My playlist at home doesn’t contain many female artists, for no real reason, but Poppy’s voice was mesmerising and I will definitely go and see her again. Her own songs were quirky but catchy, and had a realness about them that you can only feel when an artist has lived and breathed what they write about. Her style was classical mixed with blues mixed with an individuality I can’t liken to anyone else. I will forever remember her set as Snow White floating barefoot through a mystical forest. It was magical. 

  Third on the billing was Plastic Scene, a young five-piece band, of which two had suitably donned the classic Christmas jumpers to evoke the party mood. Their first song had me feeling vibes of The Verve, and the vocalist front and centre did little to deter the image of Richard Ashcroft as his hair was as dark and floppy as my mind had remembered the man himself. They describe themselves as a psych-rock band, and although they wholly stood still on stage, the image and the sound worked well. Laid back, in control, easy to listen to. I was intrigued to hear more but unfortunately their set was cut slightly short due to over running technical issues, but they did themselves proud. Thourougly enjoyed what they had to offer. 

The final act of the night was the one I’d seen before and was the one that had dragged me out on a cold winters night, Skewwhiff. I’ve seen this band several times, most recently when they were support act to one of my idols, Mark Morriss of The Bluetones, at a venue in Malvern a couple of years back. Skewwhiff never disappoint. The first time I saw them, I purchased their CD “Nice Little Upper”. I can’t really pin point what genre I’d put them in, but suffice to say, its feel good music. You cannot stop your feet from tapping and your shoulders shimmying. Mix the music with lead vocalist Beanies energy onstage and you will enjoy the show. She bounces around with infectious enthusiasm. Her vocal range is phenomenal, and each song is peppered with musical vocal gymnastics I couldn’t even dare to replicate. A song I remember from previous times I’ve seen them, “Its Obvious”, had a small group of ladies up dancing and singing along, proving these guys have a well deserved and established fan base. Shewwhiff are awesome. Each time I see them, I like them even more. Its not hard to see why they’ve performed various festivals and have been support act to some top acts. Local band done good, and I think they’ve only just scratched the surface of the recognition they deserve.

So overall, an awesome night, new music to explore and happy festive memories! Well done to all involved. Here’s to more in 2018.
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Your Gig Was Handmade For Somebody Like Me

The Ed Sheeran Experience.

Sometimes in life, opportunities come along that are too good not to take. Big or small, you should grab them with both hands.  On Friday 15th December, such an opportunity arose, in the form of going to see a tribute act with my best friend S. 

The event had been advertised heavily on social media. By all accounts, it was the first gig by local promotion company “Tribute”. Its fair to say, the gig seemed to be receiving its fair share of attention, both positive and negative. As a firm believer of supporting local, live music events, I was delighted to have the opportunity to see for myself. Everyone’s gotta start somewhere, right? A chance to make mistakes and learn from them, yes? 

The Ed Sheeran experience is basically a guy called Jack, who just so happens to be an auburn haired singer who can play a guitar or two. 

I like Ed Sheeran, my son is a huge fan. His music is personal, from the heart, autobiographical to the point where its publicly known who he’s writing and singing about, so I admit to being dubious about an act claiming to give the Ed experience. Part of seeing Ed Sheeran perform is knowing that the words are real, and he feels them. Could someone singing those lyrics really be able to convey the meaning if they weren’t personal to them? I was keen to find out.

The gig was held at a relatively small village hall, but upon entering the venue, it proved to have ample space to hold the expected audience. Seats were available for those that wanted them, which it seemed most people did, but that suited us just fine as S had recently hurt her ankle in an “ice” incident. 

The crowd was a mixed age group, with families, friends and loved ones out for a night of entertainment plugged as a Christmas Party. The venue was suitably decorated and the good vibe atmosphere certainly helped me feel festive.

The show opened with a delightful duo, Polly Edwards and Kringo Blue. We were treated to a host of covers that suited Polly’s sultry voice to a tee. I’d seen these guys advertised at local venues before but never had the opportunity to see them. I’m now glad I have and will actively make an effort to see them again .

There was a chance to grab a drink and a bite to eat before the main event, and the choice of drinks was vast and reasonably priced, and the Jamaican food on offer, from West Brom based Jamrock Catering was delicious. All I heard while stood in the swiftly moving queue was postive. 

When Jack, as Ed, came on stage, the similarity was actually surprising. In photos I’d seen he “resembled” Ed, but on stage he took on the Ed persona perfectly. The way he held his guitar, and the laid back attitude he had was spot on. He dressed like Ed, held himself like Ed and when he started to sing, he sounded as close to hearing Ed Sheeran sing live as you could expect to get. Seriously, he was born to be Ed! He was a one man band, switching between different guitars for different songs, seamlessly from one song to another, he was a pro. His show was also the first time I’d  experienced  live looping in action. I’ve since discovered it’s a replica of the loop station Ed uses. I’m not into tech, and definitely not up on the technical terms, but it seems a sound, snippet, run of notes, a vocal sound, can be recorded then played back on a rhythmic loop behind the main track and vocals. Simple things, but I was transfixed. Jacks beat boxing and rap sections were brilliant and the audience were captivated. 

Jack performed songs spanning Eds whole career, but it was the more recent ones that got people abandoning their chairs and making a dance floor right in front of the stage. Once the audience was on its feet, Jack commanded the stage and the already pitch perfect show ramped up a notch. As it had been billed as a Christmas Party, the crowd became vocal about wanting a Christmas song. Jack admitted to knowing the first part of Fairytale of New York and happily obligied us to a verse which was received with festive cheers. 

His rendition of “Sing” was quite possibly the highlight of my evening. A song I know and love due to the fact it’s probably the longest bit of “rapping” I know every single word to! Understandably, it was a crowd pleaser. 

His final song and encore was recent hit “Shape of You”, by which point,the two pints of cider had kicked in and I could no longer sit still so up I got, and danced alone as S rested her ankle. I was pleased to see that in doing so, I’d encouraged  the ladies that were seated behind us to get up for a boogie. The accuracy and attention to detail of Jacks whole performance meant my initial concerns of whether I’d “feel” the emotion of Eds lyrics, became a distant memory. He is an absolutely outstanding performer whose down to earth demeanour helped portray the visual experience of the real Ed. 

S and I ended the night waiting for our taxi in the local pub car park, treating the sleepy village of Hallow to an Ed inspired rendition of Fairytale of New York. Brilliant end to a brilliant night out. 

My conclusion,the evening was a success. Everyone seemed to enjoy it. The support act went down well, the sound quality in the hall was awesome and actually pleasantly surprised me, and if there were any technical hitches, I didn’t notice them. 

Tickets for the real Ed Sheeran sell out in minutes. If you can’t get hold of them, Jack really is a truly accurate substitute.

And as for the event organisers, a huge WELL DONE! I’m excited to see where this venture takes them. After getting the chance to briefly chat to main man Matthew, it seems he has big ideas and I wish him all the best.

Watch this space! 

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Sweet Obsession O’ Mine

I’ve found the cure for insomnia.

After two nights of almost zero sleep, I dragged myself through a day at work fuelled by over priced coffee. A lot of it. It literally cost me a small fortune to get me and my overactive brain through 8½ hours of work. 

I did have a little motivation to keep me going.  That evening, a tribute band was playing at a local live music venue. Now, to cut a long story short,a few months ago, my friend L and I set up a Facebook group to advertise local and live music. Mainly inspired by the fact I can’t drive but I love live music, so I can only really get to local venues that my overworked feet can carry me to. Let’s be fair, apart from Olly Murs and Bryan Adams visiting our humble city this summer, Worcester doesn’t get to see the big names. So, we have to settle for the next best thing. Tribute acts. Now I’m well aware these are like Marmite. Love them or hate them. No in between. Personally, I admire them. I’m definitely team “love”.

So, from running our little group, I kept seeing the event for Saturday 7th October being promoted. I’d clicked “interested”, but deep down I wanted to go. Nope , needed to go. Because you see, scratch through the indie/pop exterior, right through the visible layers of my musical tastes, and you’ll find a secret rocker. The lure of seeing “Guns or Roses” at a venue less than 20 minutes walk from my home was overpowering. My body was screaming “girl, you are shattered! There’s no way you can go”, yet my mind was taking me to the pre order ticket page and clicking confirm. I bloody love Guns n Roses. I could not miss a whole gig of their music because I was “tired”. Christ, I’m 40, not 70.

My friend L had already confirmed her ticket order when I messaged her to say I was going. We got to the venue about an hour before the band hit the stage. The seats had all already been taken so the pair of us, already dead on our feet, had to stand. The dancefloor area seemed pretty empty though and I remember thinking it was such a shame. My concerns were short lived however, as, as soon as the opening strains of the first song began,and the screen started to rise to reveal the band, the space in front of us filled up out of nowhere. I instantly knew, this band must be good. L and I had already spoken to a few people who had never been to the venue before. They were either local huge Guns n Roses fans who love the music and had only come here for the first time to see them, or they were fans of these guys, Guns or Roses, and would travel to see them. A tribute band who has their own following has gained that for a reason. 

The music instantly woke me, and when “Axl” started to sing, oh my! It really is hard to imagine that anyone other than Axl himself could reach the notes this guy was hitting. To me, a secret fan, he sounded like the real deal. He looked like the young Axl too. Mannerisms, “costume” , everything. Several songs in, singing along loudly and out of tune and not caring as L whizzed around with her camera capturing the action, I vowed to find out more about the band themselves. Some people end up in tribute bands purely because they sound a bit like someone, or maybe even look a little like someone. The accuracy of these guys told me there was more to it than that. As “Welcome to the Jungle” created a buzz and a frenzy on the dancefloor, I could tell the crowd was loving it. 

So, who are Guns or Roses? I’ve since asked them.

Guns Or Roses are Martin Colley on lead vocals, John Sumbler on lead guitar, Dermo Rose Sheen on bass guitar, Padraig Tansey on drums, Marcus Huyton on rhythm guitar and for certain gigs, Shawn Charvette on keyboards.  Formed back in 2009 by John, the band has been through a few line-up changes, but are now stronger and more successful than ever.  John and Padraig have both been in the band from day one, joined soon afterwards by Martin and then Dermo, with Marcus and Shawn being the newest members.  All the guys are experienced players, love the music of Guns N’ Roses and are huge music fans in general.  John formed Guns Or Roses after becoming inspired by watching other Guns N’ Roses tribute bands, and of course being influenced by Slash’s guitar playing and the awesome live shows of Guns N’ Roses.  Almost nine years on, and the band have gone from playing bars and pubs to performing in front of thousands of people throughout Europe.”

I shamelessly knew every song, and each member of the band had chance to shine as the epic Guns N Roses songs showcase the individual musicians talents. There’s no room for error. I noticed “Slash” taking a very “Slash style” stance front and centre in guitar solo sections. “Axl” did a recognisable side to side head and shoulder sway during the slower songs. Visually, I was convinced too, the white leather jacket, the kilt, it was all there. So, what lengths do they go to to perfect the authenticity of the act?

MARTIN: I emulate Axl the best I can by wearing costumes as near to the originals as possible, especially the t-shirts and wearing bandanas and aviator shades, not forgetting the kilt and the lycra shorts. My hair is real and I straighten it before every gig so as to look as genuine as possible, nothing worse than dodgy looking wigs!

JOHN: We try and source fairly authentic costumes but some of it has to be custom made like my top hat or the Pepe le Pew t-shirt. I’ve also managed over the years to put together the same basic guitar rig as Slash uses/has used live. I’ve got a 2008 signature Les Paul, his signature wah pedal and most recently I invested in the Slash Marshall AFD100 amp. I do rely on one of those dodgy looking wigs though haha.”

As the set went on, the tunes got bigger, the crowd got livelier but the energy onstage never dropped. It was full on from start to finish. There was no lull. Not one song where I felt the need to get a drink to keep me going. L was in her eliment taking photos in what she described as the best lighting conditions she’d seen at the venue for a while. I was getting pushed, and knocked over, and my foot was pierced by a stiletto more than once but, did I care? Hell no! For a small venue, it was certainly a big atmosphere. The people here loved the music of Guns N Roses, and that is why I admire tribute bands so much. The pressure must be immense. You know you’re going on stage to perform songs that the waiting crowd already know and love. People are passionate about their favourite songs and are quick to slate bad “covers”, so to advertise yourself as a tribute band,the crowd expect more than just a cover. They expect an accuarte rendition. How does the band feel about this, especially when bringing the show to a new venue?

“There’s always pressure whether it’s a new venue or a regular one. We try and recreate the sound, look and feel of GnR the best we can but we always have fun doing it and hopefully that transfers to the audience and gives them a better experience.”

Well, I was certainly enjoying the experience. Sweet Child O’ Mine is definitely one of my favourites and I had no shame singing along loudly with the rest of the Guns Or Roses family that had crowded around me. I could feel that the band themselves loved performing these songs, I wondered if they each had personal favourites?

“PADRAIG: Rocket Queen, it’s got a great groove that I love to get into.

JOHN: I’ve got a lot of favourites for different reasons. But if I had to pick one, I guess it’d probably be Nightrain, it’s just really easy to rock out hard to that one.

MARTIN: My favourite song is probably Coma but it’s a killer to sing, I’d probably say Welcome to the Jungle is my favourite to perform.”

Since setting up our Facebook group, L and I often wonder how much advertising goes into a gig, and who does it, the venue or the artist?

We try and do what we can via Facebook etc and we provide posters to the venues and promoters. The venues usually do lots of their own promotion.”

I’d seen the gig advertised on the venues Facebook page,and we shared it several times on our group. We’re determined to get people out supporting their local venues before they close down. I for one, am glad I dragged my tired backside out that evening. A night of live music, especially music you love with a passion, is invigorating. I had so much fun. Seriously, these guys rocked! Pun intended. It crossed my mind that rehearsals must be a blast with this lot, they genuinely looked like they had fun onstage…..

“What’s a rehearsal? Haha. We rehearsed for about 6 months before we started but now we play pretty much every weekend so we don’t really need to. We can usually refresh songs we haven’t done for a while in soundchecks”

I was genuinely pleased to hear they seem to have the success and popularity they deserve. 

The finale encore was inevitable. Paradise City. As I raised my arm to capture a snippet of video on my camera, the crowd surged forward, I had to grip onto it to capture some shaky footage. I got the feeling as the song went on, the excitement would rise and I wasn’t wrong. And I loved it! I kept catching L’s eye as she clutched her camera for dear life and snapped shot after shot of the visually exciting show in front of us. We marveled at the two past middle aged head bangers, one bold, and one with a rockers long mane of hair, having a head banging battle, which the bold one surprisingly won. It was a brilliant evening that fuelled my existing obsession with Guns N Roses. Are they coming back to Worcester…..are they, are they?

We always love playing Worcester and we always get a great audience! We’re back at the Marrs Bar on Saturday 14th April”

*Cue very happy dance 😉

So, my cure for insomnia? Don’t even bother going to sleep. Instead, go to a gig where you sing yourself hoarse, and the music is so loud your ears are buzzing and go home so happy that sleep is no longer even on your radar! Trust me, it works!

Photographs courtesy of the amazing Lissywitch:-

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