||DEVILSKIN & SUMO CYCO LEAD A NIGHT OF METAL VARIETY IN GLASGOW
Devilskin/Sumo Cyco/Eva Plays Dead/Splintered Halo
The Classic Grand, Glasgow
Thursday 16th March
Words: Johnny Main, Pictures: Carlan Braid
Opening tonight's proceedings, the first act of four saw my second live encounter with avant garde Metal band Splintered Halo, and once again they put on a great show.
Evilyn Van Der Hyden is the charismatic vocalist with the other band members remaining 'faceless' behind their masks, something which is always a bit disconcerting.
With limited time the band performed favourite tracks of mine like 'Dark Side of Oz' and 'Mad Love' as well as 'Shadow' which I'd not heard before. Van Der Hyden has a huge personality which makes up for the disengagement caused by the masked band members but it obviously plays to their strengths as they have built up a large following.
If you're looking for a band with something different to offer, then this could be the band for you.
Splintered Halo Set List:
Dark Side of Oz
Splintered Halo are:
Evilyn Van Der Hyden – Lead Vocals
Slender – Guitar
Jabberwocky – Guitar
The Dandy Man – Bass Guitar
Griever – Drums
Next up were Derby based Eva Plays Dead who've been on my radar since 2013 when I interviewed them for MetalTalk, but unfortunately didn't get to see them last time they played Glasgow.
Today that wrong was righted and I finally got to se them live – albeit in a curtailed show and not a full headlining performance. I was expecting great things and I was not disappointed – a good (and loud) audience greeted the band before their energetic show that saw vocalist Tiggy Dee's performance spills into the heart of the audience on more than one occasion and at one point took a dramatic turn as she sung some of the set John Lennon style – lying on the floor.
'Spin' had two young guys trying their best to head bang and ultimately looking a bit too self conscious to do it properly, but they seemed to be having a ball. Dee's vocal performance was fantastic time and again and her affinity with the audience clear as she asked those at the back to come down the front and to be fair, they did.
For me, 'Wonderland' was the best of their set with new track 'Get Back' coming a close second. The latter slowed things down but the song still has a bite to it thank, in part, to the touch of menace in her voice and the razor-sharp guitar riff from Matt Gasgoyne ensuring this isn't a forgettable number.
An offer to dance from Dee for the audience to dance with her was taken up by a handful of guys who tried to start their own moshpit as the band powered through their last song but it takes Dee's intervention to really get things going – a good attempt lads, but could do better.
Towards the end, drummer Seb Boyse takes performance to the next level by moving his drum kit into the audience as an extra piece of theatre.
A good solid set from a band I've been waiting a couple of years to see and it was well worth the wait. One point to note, though, is that (what looked like) a tour photographer should clam down while the band are on. People have paid good money to see the band, not someone barging their way through the punters down the front, incessantly taking pictures with a flash gun – he was like a one-man strobe machine at one point.
Eva Plays Dead Set List:
Eva Plays Dead are:
Tiggy Dee – Lead Vocals
Matt Gasgoyne – Guitar
Zach Shannon – Bass Guitar
Seb Boyse – Drums
The last time I saw Sumo Cyco was at Glasgow's famous Cathouse Nightclub supporting the Butcher Babies, and I was looking forward to this return visit from the Canadian quartet.
The Classic Grand used to be an old porn cinema, and this was somehow appropriate judging by the number of older men (some with decidedly dodgy carrier bags) hoisting their cameras towards the stage – mostly in the direction of vocalist Skye Sweetnam. Sweetnam's performance throughout was energetic, even verging on manic at times, and passionate from start to finish – just what you're looking for to get the audience involved.
A big crowd was there to witness the show and I don't think anyone went away disappointed. Guitarist Matt "MD13" Drake got the crowd energised as the intro kicked in before Sweetnam bounced onto the stage. Small in stature but big in voice sums up Sweetnam well, however two road cases served well as a make-shift riser so that more than the first two rows could see her.
'Anti Anthem' got the party going and some dry ice added to the atmosphere as the pace soon ramped up with Sweetnam giving a truly extraordinary performance and had the whole place jumping, before a bit of fun between Sweetnam and Drake as they jostled for position on the road cases saw Sweetnam losing out in the end.
Sweetnam has a love of Scotland (she's part-Scottish herself she tells us), and she didn't mind getting up close and personal with the audience down the front, even taking an impromptu walk into the audience and at one point ending up lying on the bar and even managing to bag a free shot of whiskey from the bar staff - nice touch!
Older song 'Brave' from their debut album, 2014's 'Lost In Cyco City' slowed the pace down and gave everyone a breather - except maybe the drummer Matt Trozzi , who continued with a frantic beat before another track from the album, 'Go Go Go' pulls the tempo back up and allows Drake to shine with his guitar solo.
The first song from their debut release 'The Ugly' slowed the pace down again and saw Sweetnam holding court with the front couple of rows, giving Drake the opportunity to press the flesh as it was his turn for an impromptu walk through the audience. It's a real highlight of the set is a fantastic number that truly deserves to become a Sumo Cyco classic that's delivered with passion and commitment.
'Move Mountains' (co-written by Skindred front man Benji Webb) still goes down well as Sweetnam got most of those present to crouch down and then jump about at the same time – sometimes some good old fashioned audience interaction goes a long way before 'Fighter' brought to an end their spectacular performance.
If you've not heard the name Sumo Cyco yet, then go and hunt these guys out – they deserve to be huge and, given time, I'm sure they will be.
Sumo Cyco Set List:
Go Go Go
My Name Is Rock 'N' Roll
Sumo Cyco are:
Skye Sweetnam – Lead Vocals
Matt Drake – Guitar
Ken "Thor" Corke – Bass Guitar
Matt Trozzi – Drums
So it was left up to headliners, New Zealanders Devilskin to close the show and show what they can really do. Hot on the heels of their latest album, last years 'Be Like the River', they set out their stall early on with new track 'In Black'.
The audience was slightly smaller than that of Sumo Cyco, but Devilskin's audience were a more dedicated one. The lighting guy seemed to have dozed off during the first number, leaving the band in darkness until halfway through, not that the audience noticed or cared, I suspect.
Vocalist Jennie Skulander (resplendent in her glittery "Fancy As Fuck" t-shirt) flexed her vocal muscles early on and by 'Start A Revolution', things had settled down as the head bangers came out down the front as the rib rattling drums of Nic Martin and the thundering bass guitar of his dad, Paul, shook the room to its foundations.
'Vessel' Skulander informed us was "about drinking" – a topic close to any Scottish audience's heart and always a favourite to get a cheer when you introduce a song that way. It was a pretty good number all told, though. The followed this with a double-barrelled shot of (the ever popular) 'Elvis Presley Cricle Pit' swiftly followed by newer number, 'Believe In Me' which had the audience head banging (including MetalTalk's very own scribe Ian Sutherland who was spotted front and centre) during the slower tempo'd former number.
No shrinking violet, Skulander used the stage riser to full advantage to get the audience involved all the while switching effortlessly from singing to growling without losing her tone – very impressive. Indeed 'Believe In Me' proved to be one of her finest moments as she stretched her voice almost to breaking point at the songs conclusion.
Throughout the set, Nic Martin looked like he's having a ball despite being dwarfed by the occasional waft of dry ice, not to mention having no drum riser which left him out of visual range at times to all except the first few rows but his presence was definitely felt with his metronomic beats throughout the set.
There wasn't much in between song banter either with Skulander much preferring to let the music do the talking plus it gave the band the chance to fit in as many songs as possible with the set pulled almost equally between their most recent album at the start of the set and tracks mainly from their 2014 debut 'We Rise' towards the end of the evening.
The exception was a cover of Heart's 'Barracuda' mid-set which proved to be a nice addition to the set, even if it was an unexpected turn of events, still, it certainly kept the audience moving down the front.
Overall, it was a good solid set from the New Zealand crew, but the Canadians just pipped them to the post this particular evening in something of a close run contest. Still, for your money you were getting four great bands and it seemed like there was a healthy appetite for all four here in Glasgow.
Devilskin Set List:
Start A Revolution
Elvis Presley Cricle Pit
Believe In Me
Until You Bleed
Never See The Light
Jennie Skulander – Lead Vocals
Nail Vincent – Guitar
Paul Martin – Bass Guitar
Nic Martin – Drums