Four bands, eight quid, beer for Â£2 a pint and t-shirts at a tenner. Can’t turn that kind of an offer down. Especially when one of them is Heights.
As ever, I managed to miss the opening band (Steak Number Eight). I guess they hit the stage very shortly after the doors opened as I got there at around 7:45. A teething baby is a little more important, though!
The first band I saw were Heart of a Coward, who I’d never heard of before. Their t-shirts made them look like a US hardcore band, but they’re very definitely from the south of England and very definitely a (very) heavy metal act. With a lead singer who looks like he could punch you through a brick wall (ex-Sylosis front man Jamie Graham), the only South Asian I can recall ever seeing in a metal band (Vishal Ketia) and synchronised from-the-waist headbanging, they’re an incredibly powerful live act.
With maybe half an hour to fill, they pummelled through a good number of tracks whilst trying their best to get the small crowd to join in the fun. Despite only a couple of dozen people bothering to hover near the stage, they performed as if they were in front of a full house.
A great performance from a band I would happily go and see again.
Next up were the band I had paid my money to see – Heights. I first saw them when they supported Biohazard earlier this yearÂ and they seriously impressed me.
Well, you know how you come away from a gig telling people how good it was and then when you see the band again, they’re a shadow of that one night? Not the case with Heights. They’ve got better. My apologies for the lack of decent photographs, but they wouldn’t stay still long enough for me to focus. I swear they must have been raised on e-numbers.
Within a minute of the opening track, the singer (sorry, no idea of the guys’ names) was up on the barrier passing the microphone to fans who knew the words. Not to be bested, one of the guitarists joined him – somehow balancing on the metalwork while banging out riffs.
Barely stopping between tracks, they battered the living hell out of the crowd. Facing the same problem as HOAC in that a large portion of the growing crowd preferred to stay near the bar, our intrepid vocalist clambered off the stage and onto the dancefloor. Shoving people around while singing (microphone cable trailing back onto the stage), he managed to start a small but violent pit before the end of the final track.
Guitars were thrown around, mikes dropped and cheers erupted as the most energetic band I’ve seen in years stomped off to cries of “one more tune!” – which we didn’t get. Boo.
Heights are an angry bunch. Loud and aggressive, you get the feeling that if they weren’t battering out ear-crushing riffs on their instruments they’d be using them to commit genocide. Watching them must be like watching the Sex Pistols back in the day before they made it big. They’re a breath of fresh air, a wake-up call. Hugely entertaining and seemingly constantly on tour. I’m hoping I have the chance to see them in February again when they tour with Your Demise.
Last band of the night were Devil Sold His Soul, I think the only act who could lay claim to having more than one album available. They seemed to have brought half of Blackpool Illuminations with them, along with their own lighting guy who was on stage tapping buttons so that everything was in sync.
All very impressive visually, but musically… well, I guess I was in the minority as they certainly seemed to be the band the crowd were waiting for. They weren’t bad, but they just didn’t grab me the way that Heights of HOAC had done. They weren’t helped by the fact that someone decided that the headliners should be louder than everyone else to the point where half of one song sounded to me like Rolf Harris playing the world’s largest stylophone with the bass and reverb turned up full. In a wind tunnel.
Still, can’t complain for Â£10 (including booking fees). It’s definitely worth keeping an eye out for tours like these. Back to grass roots, bands manning their own merchandise stalls and carrying their own kit – and with the cash they raise going into their own pockets.
Roll on Metal Hammer Razor Tour III!