Since the release of the astonishing Out of Darkness debut album, I have been chomping at the bit to catch She Burns Red and experience some of that absolutely killer material live. Acting as the special guests to the equally enthralling South Of Salem, this was an opportunity not to be missed.
She Burns Red
KK’s Steel Mill – 3 November 2023
Words: Sophie James
Photography: Jason Samuels
Arriving with that most affable Caledonian greeting of “How you dooin’?” they fired up with Touch, and immediately James McCulloch’s bass impacted heavily on your rib cage. It had been 18 months since my last and, thus far, sole viewing. It was immediately apparent just how far they have progressed.
The six-string axis of Andy Moore and Naz Scanferato shredded in sumptuous syncopation. Trading grinding riffs throughout, the interplay was a joy to hear. Added stardust came courtesy of the latter’s sparkling and fluid solo flourishes here and beyond.
The alternating vocals of James and Andy are another intrinsic and endearing element of the mix. Drummer Scott Hanlon provides further depth with his rich backing vocals.
Rise And Fall continued the assault. One had the sense that they had only just begun and would pack as much quality as they could into their allotted time.
With its intro alone worthy of a full-blown power chord ending, Killing Time’s instrumental barrage, allied with the characteristic seductive hooks, underscored the sheer enormity of the sonic tapestry. An arena or even stadium-filling sound – I kid thee not – its conclusion justifiably receiving the biggest roar of the evening so far.
“So here I am. In the Crosshairs of your anger.” By now, the band was positively motoring and maintained this level right to the very end. As such, Crosshairs was the most impeccable continuation. Yet another song that, once under your skin, is impossible to remove. The crowd were fully on board, taking great delight in hollering along with the band.
“A Lion’s share was promised, but all we got was scraps.” New single, Heavy Is The Head, continues the stream of grandiose material. Somewhat symbolically, if not ironically, it hints at bygone times. Yet its themes remain current, referencing the continued betrayal of war heroes and the working classes alike.
The pace slackens ever so slightly on Run, which harnesses similar emotive melodies to Creed and Snow Patrol but without losing any impact. As an archetypal slab of post-grunge arena rock, I can just imagine the scene as Varilights sweep over the audience in a more expansive setting as the stage is enveloped in clouds of dry ice.
“I’ve sold my soul too many times,” launches Crack The Sky and sees them at their most animated. The galloping rhythm of the frenetic coda is worthy of Metallica, and that’s after the definitive uplifting bridge of the set.
The songs are just gems, melodic diamonds even, that keep on giving.
Out Of Darkness, by virtue of all its melodies, perfectly encapsulates the harmonious moods of the previous half hour, bringing this all too short an appearance to a climactic conclusion.
The performance left me breathless at the elevating, emotive power and vitality of the musical ride I had just experienced.
Upon calm reflection, I reiterate that this was a compelling validation that Out Of Darkness is one of the albums of the year. All tracks bar one made an appearance. It showcased a band at a far more advanced stage than one may expect at this point in their career.
With a constant stream of energetic, exquisitely constructed crowd-pleasers, this is undeniably the sound of an arena band in waiting and most definitely ones to keep a very close eye on.
They soon return to Wolverhampton, playing the Giffard on 27th January. Catch them in such intimate surroundings while you can. Be prepared to be blown away.