Saturday’s NWOCR Live Fest Middle Order Batting saw the diverse lineup of Devilfire, The Karma Effect and Beth Blade and The Beautiful Disasters. This perfectly exemplified a friend’s comment that “Every band over the weekend brought something slightly different, but all were pretty special.”
Apart from the headliners and special guests, each artist was afforded a most generous 40-minute set with a swift, efficient 20-minute changeover, and they each crammed so much in.
Making a long overdue return to the live arena were Birmingham-based Melodic Metallers Devilfire, who were undeniably the most straight down the line Metal band of the weekend.
As befits the genre, their entrance was certainly the most dramatic, with Drummer Lars (not that one!) perched imperiously (almost perilously) astride his kit as the intro boomed.
Being relatively unfamiliar with their material, it did take a few numbers to get my ear in, but when it clicked, I warmed to them immensely.
Unapologetically in your face, they had it all. Infectious melodies, catchy choruses, twin harmony guitars with soaring lead breaks and even a loudhailer vocal segment on opener A Thousand Times. The subsequent (You Gotta) Revolution followed in a similar musical vein.
“It’s a long time since we’ve done a gig; this feels like coming home,” preceded Chasing The Pain, which had the drive of Aerosmith at their most vigorous.
“What a fantastic thing NWOCR is.” This simple, incontrovertible truth concisely summarised the feelings of all those involved and attending the event.
The smoky (In & Out of Love) All of The Time ticked the ‘Earworm of the Set’ box. Guitarist Baz unleashed a soaring solo on Sell My Soul. With his physical appearance, it is difficult to avoid drawing a comparison with the legend that lends his name to this very venue.
The Dioesque entitled Dream Evil was appealingly addictive despite guitarist Kieran’s technical difficulty. Back up to full strength, the thrusting She’s Like Fire further reinforced that driving catchy vibe.
Closing on potential groupie anthem Waiting For a Rock Star, they left you with that feeling of not only wanting more but an understanding that you have yet to see them at their peak.
A band whose back catalogue warrants further exploration, and as they regain their live mojo, one has no doubt they will get slicker and more imposing.
The Karma Effect
I will not go into too much detail about The Karma Effect for the sole reason that I am covering their headline show when they return to Wolverhampton in just a few short weeks.
Combining classic ’70s and Southern influences with more contemporary stylings, an abundance of soul and no short supply of funk, they are unquestionably a band who get better and better on each sighting. Suffice to say that this evening’s performance was nothing short of spectacular.
Their appearances at multiple festivals has gelled them into an incendiary live act with extremely captivating frontman Henry Gottelier, a dynamic and mesmeric presence and what a voice. Guitarist Robbie Blake was similarly animated and revelling in the occasion.
Standout tracks were the funky Doubt She’s Coming Back with a ginormous Lordian keyboard intro from Seb Emmins. Stand, always the showstopper was preceded by more wonderful keyboard wizardry from that man again, while a taster of Unskinny Bop set the tone for the bouncy and joyous Steal Your Heart before concluding on a high with fan favourite Testify.
Another band that has seamlessly made the step up to the big stage, they received a welcome ovation from a host of new, most appreciative followers.
Beth Blade And The Beautiful Disasters
Opening with Tonight I’m With You was an uncompromising statement of intent for Beth Blade And The Beautiful Disasters and certainly got the audience’s attention. Its melody heavily influenced by archetypal US powerpop but delivered so bludgeonly heavy.
Flanked by her trusty cohorts of guitarist Luke Gilmore and bassist Sam Rowe, who have the air of a pair of desperate gunslingers, the ‘Front 3’ have a captivating presence.
Give It All You Got was certainly what Beth was doing. Her bellowing voice enforced a party spirit. As she told me later, “There’s nothing like being up on stage and letting it all out.”
So many hooks in Undo Me, and that’s even before we reached the Wooah Wooahs of the chorus, which on this occasion reminded me of I Love It Loud. Persephone is never anything less than crushing.
Taking the mood down, she explained that Hold Your Heart was about the feeling of losing someone and not being able to cope or knowing what to do. Inviting the audience to illuminate their phones in memory of someone they’ve lost, “Wolverhampton, that was beautiful,” was the gentle acknowledgement as the closing chords faded.
“Play some Jimi,” she instructed as Luke teased the opening of Voodoo Chile before we were treated to the measured power blues of Down & Dirty. Boy, this lady has a voice and is not afraid to use it.
I Ain’t Got Nothing (If I Ain’t Got Rock And Roll) is their celebratory live anthem, with Beth spending much of it at the barrier leading the crowd in the obligatory singalong.
Finishing up on the galloping Jack & Coke, which was inspired by and dedicated to Lemmy. If ever a person can give their name to a drink, eh? Beth, this time, unleashed her inner Lita.
This band has the ability to switch effortlessly between hugely infectious, almost indie melodies and crushingly heavy riffs.
Raising those glasses of Jack or other refreshments in acknowledgement of such a sweet set, I will return to a line from the opener. “I don’t want this night to end, my friend,” summarised an excellent job well done!
NWOCR Livefest 2023 was held over the weekend of 23-24 September 2023. MetalTalk’s Sophie James reports from KK’s Steel Mill
All Photography: Jason Samuels
All MetalTalk’s NWOCR Livefest 2023 coverage can be found at MetalTalk.net/tag/nwocr-livefest-2023.