HIGHWAY TO HELL 4
The Classic Grand, Glasgow
Sunday 6th October
After the hard work that all the bands put into their performances the previous night, the Sunday bands were going to have a hard job trying to top them, but it's safe to say that some of the band on the Sunday were more than up for the job.
First up were Northern Irish quintet Maverick who were made a strong start despite vocalist David Balfour having a few microphone gremlins early on in the first number, 'Cat Got Your Tongue'. The band's second number, 'Shackled' had a nice intro courtesy of drummer Mike Ross before guitarist Ryan Sebastian Balfour produced a memorable solo.
The band's cover of the Van Halen classic 'Panama' lights up the room though, as David Balfour goes all out to try and liven up the somewhat hungover crowd. Sure, he's no David Lee Roth but he certainly puts in a great performance both aurally and visually.
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As far as original material goes, though, it was 'Hellfire & Brimstone' that was their best (and heaviest) song of their short set and with the prospect of more material to come, this is surely a band to be watched.
Five piece Midlands based band Blue Origin had a high energy start from drummer Tom Eivers thumping out a frantic beat whilst he rest of the band leap about in happy abandon. Guitarist Josh Sutton reminds me of the late Steve Clark (of Def Leppard-fame) with his head tossing and low slung guitar style whilst he executes a great solo.
'Blur The Lines' gives vocalist Nick Pilgrim a chance to show off his mouth-organ skills on what becomes a much more sedate number whilst the song still manages to retain a remarkable power to it. The band chose 'Vermilion' by Slipknot as their cover, and it's a track which they perform very well.
Guitarist Mike Hawkings is handed the soloing duties here, and proves he's more than capable as the track builds to a crescendo. Closing number 'Take Your Pills' is one of their signature tracks and sees Pilgrim pacing the stage trying to elicit some reaction from the crowd one last time.
An interesting set from a band that I will certainly take the time to investigate further to see if the rest of their music is as good as the tracks I heard here.
Like Temple Dawn the previous night, the next band up, Gutter Godz, prove that Scotland isn't lacking at all when it comes to original rock bands. Hailing from Aberdeen, this three-piece have a bit of bit of support in the room and kick off their set with the high energy 'Blood On Your Hands'.
Guitarist/vocalist Jon Davie gives it his all urging the crowd to get involved whilst bass player, Kev Mclean, pulls pose after pose to the delight of the female fans down the front. 'Mess Again' continues the frantic pace and Davie pulls a great solo out of the bag whilst drummer Doug Rumbles works hard at the back.
Over the course of the two days, lots of bands stuck religiously to rock and metal covers, so it was refreshing when the Gutter Godz do something a little different by covering the Elvis classic, 'That's Alright Mama'. By doing such a recognisable song, the band manage to engage the whole room instantly (even the bar staff seemed to stop and sing along!) with this fast and furious cover version.
Rumbles manages to break a drumstick midway through and manages to retrieve a new one without dropping a single beat - something which is quite a feat in itself and shows that this band have more their fair share of musical skill.
Liverpudlian quartet Scare Tactics made a good solid good start to their set with a long intro before their first number 'False Power' properly kicks in. Vocalist And'A Barker's sound is momentarily lost in the mix, but the sound man is quickly on the job.
Meanwhile, bass player Danny Williams does his best to get the crowd involved and his efforts aren't without success as a small band of fans at the front reciprocate. There's some nice twin guitar work from Barker and Paul Charnock too. 'California Love' finds Barker getting the crowd well versed in choreography ahead of the band's interesting interpretation of the song by rapper 2-Pac.
Now, I say it was "interesting" not as a criticism but because it was the only cover song of the weekend that I was unfamiliar with and having subsequently heard the original version, I much prefer the Scare Tactics version.
'Drunk Fuck' is the best of their four numbers here, though, with its great riff that stayed in my head for couple of days after the event, and it went down well with the rest of audience too if the amount of noise at the end was any kind of measure.
One band that I was quite keen see over the weekend were The Blacklist Saints and they didn't disappoint one iota! The Midlands four piece have well crafted, catchy songs and when you add in the fact that all the band have great stage presence, you just can't help but enjoy them.
I particularly enjoyed their first number, 'Redlight', which is a fast paced song that has a meaty riff supplied by guitarist/vocalist Tommy Crisis before he hands over soloing duties to Luke Furry.
'Dead End Life' is another good tune which manages to get the crowd down the front moving as drummer Matt Harper works away at the back providing a solid beat. Doing something different with their cover song, the band decide to would reflect on their heroes by performing the theme tune to the 1980s TV show, Thundercats! It's a great version and shows the band's musical talent and their sense of humour in one stroke - fantastic stuff from start to finish and a band that I'll be keeping tabs on in the future.
One of the last bands to play the competition were the four price Senton Bombs from Blackpool who kicked off their set with 'Nothing Quite Like This' during which guitarist Damien Kage coped admirably when his guitar strap broke when he chose to carry on with the song (balancing the guitar on his leg) instead of stopping midway through to fix it.
Vocalist Joey Class did a fine job of encouraging the crowd to sing along and managed to elicit a good response from them. 'Tornado' (from their new album 'Chapter Zero', available on STP Records) gets the audience moving a bit faster as Kage (with guitar strap now fixed) and lead guitarist Johnny Gibbons engage in a guitar duel.
The band chose 'Born With A Tail' by Supersuckers as their cover song which has drummer Scott Mason being the hardest working member of the band as he powers his way through the song.
'Jackals' wraps up their set as Gibbons throws out the power chords left, right and centre as Class head bangs to the solid rhythm before the song ends in loud crescendo with Kage almost throwing his Les Paul guitar in the air before deciding against it at the very last moment - almost the ultimate rock n' roll finish to a great weekend or rock and metal music!
Maverick - http://www.facebook.com/MaverickBelfastuk
Blue Origin - http://www.facebook.com/blueorigin
Gutter Godz - http://www.facebook.com/guttergodz
Scare Tactics - http://www.facebook.com/scaretacticsuk
The Blackest Saints - http://theblacklistsaints.com
The Senton Bombs - http://thesentonbombs.webs.com