Tag Archives: Crewe Limelight

Panic Room – Crewe Limelight, 5-Dec-2008

Back to the world-famous Crewe Limelight for Panic Room’s final live appearance of 2008.

Support was Jump, who I’d seen (briefly!) at that ill-fated double headliner at The Peel when the power failed just at the point where things were starting to come to life. Tonight we got to see them complete a whole set, and they were very good indeed. More prog-tinged bluesy rock than prog, although you can hear a strong Fish influence in the lead singer. Nice one; I’m looking forward to seeing them again at the rescheduled Peel gig in the new year now.

This is the fourth time I’ve seen Panic Room, and was the best one I’ve seen them play to date. Their sound is an eclectic multi-layered mix of hard rock and prog with bits of folk and electronica, and the five-piece band do a splendid job of reproducing it live; amazingly tight, but they also rock out pretty hard.

Sound was pretty good, certainly better than for either Breathing Space or Karnataka’s gigs in October. Anne-Marie Helder was on stellar form vocally, despite suffering from a cold which I hope she didn’t get it from me, and struggling with a non-functioning pedal board. Can you name any other band where the singer has more effects pedals than the lead guitarist?

Setlist was much the same as the Halloween gig in Worcester, right down to the cover of ‘Enter Sandman’ as the final encore, albeit with a few changes in lyrics. High spots were many; ‘Apocalypstick’ was fantastic, and of the new songs ‘Yasumi’ and ‘Go’ are rapidly becoming favourites. Anne-Marie’s Santa outfit for the encores raised a few eyebrows; I think the rest of the band should have dressed as elves.

Next gig is at The Peel in Kingston on January 31st. Be there!

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Karnataka, Crewe Limelight, 26 Oct 2008

Two days after seeing Panic Room I found myself back at Crewe Limelight to see the new-look Karnataka.

Following the dissolution of the original band back in 2004, bassist and original bandleader Ian Jones put together a completely new incarnation of the band, including Lisa Fury on vocals, Enrico Pinna on guitar, and Gonzalo Carrera on keys. Some people seemed to object to the mere existence of this band, some hack scribblers dismiss them as ‘a glorified tribute band’, which I feel is a bit harsh.

When I first saw them at Crewe last year I thought they put on an impressive show, but I had a nagging doubt that what I was really seeing was Ian and Lisa plus some hired hands. Having seen powerful live performances by The Reasoning and Panic Room earlier this month, I felt they had something to prove this time around.

Typical of Sunday night gigs at Crewe Limelight, things started bloody late, and it wasn’t until ten o’clock before the band came on stage. Unfortunately the start of the set was marred by technical problems which rather spoiled the impact of the opening instrumental ‘State of Grace’, and caused intermittent problems later on as well. After that rather shaky start, though, they recovered momentum, and it was soon apparent that this was a far, far better band than I’d seen back in 2007. Although the set included plenty of old favourites, a good proportion of the set was new material, and the new songs had enough of the same feel and mood to justify keeping the name. They’ve gelled as a band now; confident enough to reinterpret the older songs and make them their own rather than the sort of note-for-note reproductions that you’d expect from a tribute band. Enrico Pinna played some amazing guitar, striking the right balance between fluid virtuosity and restraint where appropriate. Lisa Fury’s vocals were as impressive as last time. It’s probably not easy to take some very personal songs written by another singer and sing them as if they were hers.

Strangest moment came partway through the set when a Dutch fan dragged his girlfriend on stage in order to propose to her. That’s something I’ve never seen happen at a gig before.

A good gig, despite the technical gremlins. It’s a pity the sheer number of gigs by various bands in October meant I didn’t get the chance to see Karnataka more than once on this tour.

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The Reasoning on Tour

I managed to catch Cardiff’s The Reasoning three times on their short “Dark Angel” tour.  Their mix of melodic rock and metal with progressive seasoning always works well live, and with an excellent second album under their belt, this was a tour to look forward to.

First up was the Classic Rock Society’s gig at Wath-upon-Dearne. I’ve not been to a CRS gig or this venue before; the venue reminded me of the Drill Hall at Lincoln; raised seating at the back with a level standing area at the front. This was an all-age gig, with loads of kids in the audience; it makes for a very different atmosphere. There seemed to be a good crowd; I estimated two hundred or so.

Support was Combination Head, a band I’d never heard before. Hearing then described as ‘a bit like ELP’ made me fear the worst. I’m not a big fan of ELP, the band that wrote the rule books for Bombastic and Self-Indulgent. But Combination Head, while they had plenty of Hammond organ pyrotechnics reigned in the self-indulgent widdling and threw in some decent tunes instead. Not bad at all.

Introduced as “An Evening of Gorp-Metal”, The Reasoning’s set was powerful and impassioned, much improved from their slightly hesitant set at the Cambridge Rock Festival. With their new album out they’ve revamped the setlist completely, playing almost all of more metal-orientated “Dark Angel” plus the best half of their debut “Awakening”, a superb 90 minutes of great music with no let up at all. They’re a band that really mean business now. The new material came over well live; ‘Dark Angel’ and ‘Sharp Sea’, already familiar from January’s gigs have already established themselves as live favourites. ‘Call Me God?’, premièred at Cambridge, is an absolute monster live, and Rachel dropped some unsubtle hints as to who it’s about. The epic ‘A Musing Dream’ also comes over well on stage. They encored with a cover of Alanis Morrissette’s ‘Uninvited’ and the old Karnataka favourite ‘Talk to Me’.

Sunday’s acoustic gig at Kimberworth was a quite different affair; a relaxed and laid-back performance before a select audience of fifty or so dedicated fans. So laid back that the some of the band took to the stage and were ready to start while one member of the band was still in the loo; he got a huge cheer when he turned up. They played an hour’s worth of acoustic reworkings of material from both albums.

The third and final gig I went to was Crewe Limelight. Recent gigs there had been very hit-and-miss sound-wise, but I still love this venue. It’s one of those slightly seedy but atmospheric small clubs, walls completely covered in posters and album sleeves. Pure rock’n'roll.  And they attracted a good crowd; significantly more people than the last time they played this venue in January.

Support this time was Mermaid Kiss, with their new keyboard player Colin Henney. I’ve seen a lot of them this year, with their earlier support slots for Panic Room and Breathing Space. While they’re definitely not to everyone’s taste, I love what they do.  Their semi-acoustic lineup emphasises Evelyn Downing’s distinctive voice and Wendy Marks’ assorted woodwinds. I don’t think I’ve ever seen another band use a cor anglais on stage.  While I’d like to see them do some gigs at some time with a full electric lineup reproducing the atmospheric progressive rock of their albums, the stripped-down acoustic arrangements of many of the songs from “Etarlis” work well live.  Tonight’s set was slightly shorter, with some material from their forthcoming “American Images” omitted, but still pretty good.

The Reasoning played an absolute blinder this time around. They’d been good at Wath, this took their performance to another level entirely, helped by the best sound I’ve heard at The Limelight for ages. Three dates into their tour, the lineup had fully gelled, with that incredible mix of high energy, tightness and emotional intensity they’ve established a reputation for. The setlist was much the same as we’d heard at Wath, but with a rearranged running order for slightly better pacing, opening with ‘Sharp Sea’ rather than ‘Dark Angel’, and swapping ‘Talk to Me’ and ‘Awakening’.  New guitarist Owain Roberts has really fitted in now, reeling off some amazing solos that always stop well short of anything remotely self-indulgent; restrained virtuosity indeed.  He absolutely nailed the guitar parts of earlier “Awakening” material, and shone on his own work on “Dark Angel”.

Reports I’ve read of later dates in Cardiff, London and Bilston suggest the final dates were better still.  They’re on the road again supporting Fish next month; I hope to catch at least one of the dates – on this form they’re going to give the headliner a serious run for his money.

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