by Chris Familton
A night of celebratory rock was kicked off by locals The Upskirts and though at first coming across as fairly generic alt rock they soon revealed a real mixture of influences. They swung from Arctic Monkeys guitar pop to a a great dirgy track sung by drummer Thomas Kell that sounded like The Cure. They approach basic rock songs with an inventive bent, marking them out as a promising band to watch as they either refine or further embrace their stylistic range.
The Snowdroppers took things into another realm with their retro saloon styling in their brash and entertaining set. Frontman Johnny Wishbone came out scissor-kicking, lurching and gyrating around the stage like an Aussie pub rock version of Little Richard. The audience responded to the band’s ribald songs about cheap girls and cheap drugs and fittingly they played with just the right amount of slickness and ramshackle rock n roll to loosen up the Friday night crowd. Wishbone’s antics are ridiculously over the top but he pulled it off and showed he is one of the best frontmen around at the moment.
From the moment Shihad hit the stage they had The Metro in the palm of their hand and the interesting concept of playing songs from their near quarter century of music, in chronological order, paid off as a fascinating way to travel their career arc through its many stages. Their early speed metal origins were honoured with the brutal riffing of It before the industrial and post punk tinged Derail and Factory showed how quickly the band matured in their early years. Shihad have always been a devastating live act and when matched (as it was) with a loud and visceral sound mix they can sound like one of the greatest on the planet. All the usual suspects were played from the darker Killjoy tracks, fan favourites like Home Again and the commercial peak of The General Electric through to highlights from their recent albums. Looking around at the audience it was interesting how people connected with different parts of their career from the early fans to the ones screaming along to the newer songs. Jon Toogood was exceptional as ever pulling guitar-hero moves atop the speaker stacks and showed he is still as enthusiastic and passionate as ever about their music.
Distractions like name changes are irrelevant when it comes to the music and in celebrating their career to date Shihad were simply superb.
this review was first published in Drum Media