Friday, 18 November 2011

The Clockwork Owls, The Black Apples & The Control Gig Review 17/11/11

From Lemmy of Motorhead to Slash of Guns 'N' Roses, Stoke-On-Trent is renowned for producing high quality rock performers.

If the gig at Staffordshire University's The Verve on Leek Road on Thursday 17th November is anything to go by some new bands are set to be added to that list.

The first band of the night were Clockwork Owls and rarely do you see an unsigned band that can unleash song after song of indie rock with such conviction.
After a shaky start the band get progressively better, with notable songs 'Balanced By No Means' and 'Been A Long Time' taking mid-set slots and captivating the audience with ease. By the time the band are halfway through their set, the audience are starting to lose themselves in the music. However it is not until their final song (a song which is still unnamed) that the audience fully surrenders to the band, singing along despite not knowing the words.
Although the band lack a little in terms of stagecraft and the vocalist doesn't have the most refined voice, they are still a young band and there is no denying that the band have the potential to go far on the indie rock circuit.

Soon The Black Apples take the stage and with every thunderous drumbeat another member of the audience finds themselves contaminated with the infectious sound of a true rock and roll band.
The band's sound consists of intricate bass lines, captivating drumbeats and solid guitar riffs, all of which come together perfectly to entrance the audience.
It really is hard to fault them. As they play through an energetic set of absolute rock and roll brilliance (notably a gem called 'Don't Fool Me Now' and a phenomenal cover of Fleetwood Mac's 'Oh Well') the audience finds it impossible not to lose themselves in the spectacle.
The band have the energy, the stage presence and the songs to be massive. It is really surprising that they are not better known. Fans of traditional rock and roll, Wolfmother, Led Zeppelin and The Who will not be disappointed in the slightest by this band.

Finally the headliners of the night, The Control, take the stage and they will have to deliver a really powerful performance in order to top The Black Apples.
From the very first song, it is clear that The Control definitely have the potential. The band have a definite indie sound, characterised by a guitar that is poppy but also with a raw edge that appealed to many people in the audience. This guitar, along with the driving rhythm section, provides the perfect backdrop to the loose social-commentary lyrics of vocalist Joe Brennan-Hulme and his Ian Curtis influenced vocal style (coincidentally he featured as an extra in Control - the 2007 biopic about the Joy Division singer).
As they blast their way through their set, the crowd response is amazing. The audience almost immediately surrender to the catchy rhythms of the band, notably on 'Best Gags', 'Another Cal Banda' and 'Rag & Bone'. The band provide a good live spectacle too, with Brennan-Hulme doing odd dances on the stage during instrumental sections and even coming off the stage at one point.
When they finish with their set, they don't even have time to get off the stage before the audience move in on the stage and demand the band to do an encore. So they do. The band returns to the stage with 'Playground Punks', a song which they refer to as their "anthem" - a bold statement but one that cannot be denied. With a catchy refrain which gets the whole venue singing along and a rhythm that gets everybody moving and even starts a small mosh-pit in front of the stage, it is the perfect end to their set and to the night.
The band have the sound, the songs and the stage presence to go far in the indie music scene. It could only be a matter of time until the band make a substantial impact on the Staffordshire music scene. A definite recommendation for fans of The Courteeners and Joy Division.

The d├ębut EP by The Clockwork Owls is due 23rd December 2011. To listen to them, visit their Facebook page here.

To listen to The Black Apples, visit their Myspace page here.

To listen to The Control, visit their Facebook page here.

To listen to my interview with Joe Brennan-Hulme (Vocals) & Mike Davies (Drums) from The Control, click here.

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