by Chris Familton
Featuring Charlie Horse bassist Craig Beck on guitar and vocals, Rushing Dolls have a big strong sound that relies on 90s rock dynamics and impassioned vocals from the school of Placebo but they lacked a stage presence that might otherwise make their songs more believable and enjoyable. They build melody into their rock and there were some flashes of where they might progress to but the trio came across as too tentative like they’re still searching for a sound and attitude to stand out above the rest.
The City Lights on the other hand know exactly who they are – a razor sharp power-pop trio with punk edges and energy to burn. It wasn’t as if they were leaping around the stage throwing poses but the way they play, like they are leaning into the wind, makes their music sound and feel like a shot of adrenalin. They dispatched short and concise songs with ruthless efficiency, interspersed with hilarious banter and one liners, showing that they were having as much fun as the music sounded. In short they were superb and they have a new album out which deserves attention. See them live, buy the album… I did.
The night of course belonged to Charlie Horse and the celebration of their album I Hope I’m Not A Monster. As a live band they cut a fine figure with guitarist Paul McDonald dividing his attention between strings, pedals and whammy bar while drummer Matt Brown drove the songs with a style that harnessed power and dexterity. Out front the focal point of the band was without doubt Crystal Rose who surely must be one of the country’s strongest female rock vocalists. It is her voice that defines their sound whether it be the frantic urgency of I Killed My Mind the jerky Divinyls pop shapes of Am I Not Your Baby No More or the bittersweet ache of Dead Roses, one of the highlights of their set. Rose mixed attitude and melody and that, backed by a band who were playing right in the pocket, will always be a hard recipe to beat. Sometimes you see bands live that leave you bemoaning the fact that they aren’t more widely known and appreciated. Charlie Horse are one of those bands.
this review was first published in The Drum Media