Mad Haven and Jamie Porter Band storm The Live Rooms

Mad Haven - The Live Rooms, Chester – 17 May 2023.
Mad Haven - The Live Rooms, Chester – 17 May 2023. Photo: Jason Samuels

Joining meteorically rising outfit Kira Mac on their Downfall Tour in Chester were Mad Haven and the Jamie Porter Band, both of whom certainly did not disappoint. You can read our Kira Mac report here.

Mad Haven – Jamie Porter Band

The Live Rooms, Chester – 17 May 2023

Words: Sophie James

Photography: Jason Samuels

Mad Haven

Mad Haven - The Live Rooms, Chester – 17 May 2023.
Mad Haven – The Live Rooms, Chester – 17 May 2023. Photo: Jason Samuels

“And is there anybody out there that wants to booooo-gaaayyyy?” I can imagine that may well have made a perfect intro tape for what was about to follow.

Appearing as Special Guests to Kira Mac were high-energy boogie meisters Mad Haven who had made the relatively short jaunt along the North Wales Coast from Llandudno. Vocalist/Guitarist Tom was undertaking a double shift this evening as, by this point, he had already completed the first as second guitarist in evening openers, The Jamie Porter Band. More on them later.

Mad Haven - The Live Rooms, Chester – 17 May 2023.
Mad Haven – The Live Rooms, Chester – 17 May 2023. Photo: Jason Samuels

A pre-gig conversation with Tom revealed that he, too, was suffering from a virus and wondered how he would hold up vocally. Seems bugs are still quite prevalent presently and affecting a number of bands.

This was my first sighting of new bassist Adam Haven – yes, honestly, that is his real name. No Axl Rose-type nom de plumes occurring here but viewing him. I was getting flashbacks to the late, great Burke Shelley.

Mad Haven - The Live Rooms, Chester – 17 May 2023.
Mad Haven – The Live Rooms, Chester – 17 May 2023. Photo: Jason Samuels

Get Lost launched what was all too short a set. Even with that bug, it was immediately apparent how much more depth there was to Tom’s voice, as there was to the whole band’s sound, even compared to last year’s The Wait To Continue live collection. Wonderful use of echo on the solo.

And it was that album’s title track that was up next. What a delightfully compelling riff, striking the right balance between melody, power and boogie. The hook draws you in.

Never Too Late is a song that The Treatment would be proud of.

Such a lot of influences in The Truth, which I will try to summarise as succinctly as possible. Deep Breath. A humongous, chorused head-on collision between REO Speedwagon and the Thunder from Down Under with a sprinkling of These Wicked Rivers style vocal phrasing. Got that? Good.

As I said, what a massive chorus! “Ooooh, you’ll see the truth, and you’ll be running.” One would forgive them for adding a couple of extra band members just to vocally augment that particular segment. Earworm, for sure.

Mad Haven - The Live Rooms, Chester – 17 May 2023.
Mad Haven – The Live Rooms, Chester – 17 May 2023. Photo: Jason Samuels

“Q. Who follows us on social media? A. (Points) This guy does!” Don’t know if there was a link there to Liar or just perfect but ironic comedic timing. Another glorious piece of booo-gaayy, complete with titular chant-a-long.

Every band has to have a song with the obligatory Wooohh-ohhhh-ohhh-ohhh-ohhhs in the arsenal. No surprise then that these accompanied the assonant Where Did You Go? the final chord of which brought the set to an abrupt ending. Due to time constraints, what should have been the penultimate number, Are You Ready? had already been cut from the performance.

Mad Haven - The Live Rooms, Chester – 17 May 2023.
Mad Haven – The Live Rooms, Chester – 17 May 2023. Photo: Jason Samuels

Here is a young band who move up a notch, both in terms of confidence and level of performance every time I see them. Alex was monstrous on the skins, and young Mr Haven was right at home while Tom was not only laying down killer riffs and resonant solos but projecting himself far more.

Mad Haven - The Live Rooms, Chester – 17 May 2023.
Mad Haven – The Live Rooms, Chester – 17 May 2023. Photo: Jason Samuels

Punching far above their weight, the best way I can describe them is akin to a 3-piece Treatment. Infectious, melodic, groovy, tuneful riff-laden boogie that has you grinning from ear to ear. #AGB

Jamie Porter Band

Jamie Porter Band - The Live Rooms, Chester – 17 May 2023.
Jamie Porter Band – The Live Rooms, Chester – 17 May 2023. Photo: Jason Samuels

Opening the evening was another North Walian outfit in the shape of the Jamie Porter Band. While Mad Haven were one of the various special guests appearing at various locations on tour, JPB are the sole opener.

I came into this set totally cold, not knowing what to expect, but what I discovered was an immensely enjoyable, vibrant slab of blues rock. Think a more pulsating King King, mixed with boogiefied AOR and some ‘suvvern’ influences, and you would not be too far away.

Jamie Porter Band - The Live Rooms, Chester – 17 May 2023.
Jamie Porter Band – The Live Rooms, Chester – 17 May 2023. Photo: Jason Samuels

Opener Can’t Stop Loving You immediately grabs and then holds your attention with a feel something along the lines of if Black Stone Cherry were a little more midwestern while being underpinned by a palpitating bass. The first of some succulent six-string discourse between Jamie and Tom.

Lay It On Me was a most accessible number, think Def King King and it was apparent just how popular they were in these parts.

Jamie Porter Band - The Live Rooms, Chester – 17 May 2023.
Jamie Porter Band – The Live Rooms, Chester – 17 May 2023. Photo: Jason Samuels

After a touch of technical difficulties, the next number was an absolute treat. The most infectious and upbeat You Can’t Bring Me Down. Jamie sounded somewhat like Danny Bryant on this. This got the heads nodding enthusiastically at the barrier, and for those further back, the urge to dance was irresistible. What an earworm, what an absolute earworm. Songs like this are the reasons we go to gigs.

Jamie Porter Band - The Live Rooms, Chester – 17 May 2023.
Jamie Porter Band – The Live Rooms, Chester – 17 May 2023. Photo: Jason Samuels

The vocals were clearer in the mix by Where We Belong. A song that was introduced as looking back at the dark days of lockdown with a fear of losing everything and the longing to return to playing live music. More so than on the recorded rendition, this had quite a latter-day Rainbow/Schenker feel to it. The solo was particularly reminiscent of Mr S. Another huge anthemic chorus.

Jamie Porter Band - The Live Rooms, Chester – 17 May 2023.
Jamie Porter Band – The Live Rooms, Chester – 17 May 2023. Photo: Jason Samuels

The intended set closer and current single, Feel So Good, was rather inconveniently omitted due to time constraints. However, Ready For Action turned out to be a rousing finale.

“I just want your lovin’, your sweet, sweet lovin’. Rock me all day and rock me all night”.

Here, there was no better demonstration of a band that so effortlessly straddles the boundaries between classic rock, AOR and heavy blues, switching between them on a whim. Another one guaranteed to get those derrieres gyrating. Given the abilities of the two protagonists, the guitar interplay was again blissful.

Jamie Porter Band - The Live Rooms, Chester – 17 May 2023.
Jamie Porter Band – The Live Rooms, Chester – 17 May 2023. Photo: Jason Samuels

The mid-song, Hokey-Pokey AC/DC-ish breakdown was a joy, then throw in some Woah-oh-oh-ohhs for good measure, cook at Marshall Mark 11 for 30 minutes, and what you have is a deliciously tasty dish that, rather like Oliver, has you begging for more. Absolutely glorious!

For those attending forthcoming dates on the Kira Mac tour, I highly recommend that you get there early and experience this most effervescent and enjoyable quartet.

I will leave the final word to Jamie himself, as he says on Ready For Action: “Rock ‘n’ Roll never felt better, waiting for the night to fall.”

Jamie Porter Band - The Live Rooms, Chester – 17 May 2023.
Jamie Porter Band – The Live Rooms, Chester – 17 May 2023. Photo: Jason Samuels

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