Apologies if this ends up as a bit of a rant but … actually, no, I make no apologies for this at all. I realise that I am in a very lucky position, getting to see 3 or more gigs every week (some for the price of a few thousand words and some paid for) and still I love music in it’s truest, purest form – live. Sure, many of these are bands I know but many I am going along for the first time with little or no preconceptions. Come on, the last year has seen me be declared a prog fan (The Reasoning, Touchstone, Von Hertzen Brothers to name just three) and now it appears I am becoming a metal-head … who knew? Oh yeah, back to my point, when was the last time you tried something new, something different musically … just because you could and because, to paraphrase George Mallory, it was there? Ah but David, you scream, you’re talking spherical objects – it’s too expensive. Really? Compared with what? Starsucks coffee at about £5 a cup (and once you’ve drank it, sure you might experience it again on it’s exit but really that’s it … gone). One unexpected trip to your local music venue, pay £5 to see a real band, with real instruments, singing their own songs (no, not covers that no one else plays – like Sex on bloody Fire, Comfortably bloody Numb, Wishing bloody Well, etc) and you might just get completely smitten and fall in love with you new, favouritest band in the world, EVER!
Which brings me nicely to Secret Lie. Fighting a battle that was always going to be difficult, this plucky band of Portugese musos arrived in sunny (ha!) Bolton. Now I reckon you could write the names of famous bands from Portugal on the back of a postage stamp, with a six inch paint brush – but since when did country of origin signify good or bad? As ever, those fabulous people at The Railway had done more than probably any venue, anywhere and promoted the gig far and wide, including a spread in The Bolton News that was, for once, ahead of the show (their advertising tag line really should be “Yesterdays news … tomorrow!”) and Secret Lie videos played in the weeks building up to the day and then it was show night. The videos (and, it has to be added, their album) presented a very poppy, somewhat folky band with a sound that wouldn’t be out of place on Radio 2 – grown up, mature, high quality but nothing out of the ordinary.
Their set started and that was when I realised that, live, this really could be one of my new favouritest bands. Hard, powerful and technically great guitar work blended with electric violin and great female vocals. Added in a bit of male co-vocals (a touch of Evanescence, possibly?) on a couple of tracks and generally sonic awesomeness that filled the room and the very small crowd with delight. There really was something for everyone with this set (including a cover of “Creep” – one of only two occasions when I’ve enjoyed a Radiohead song!), blending elements of Nightwish/Within Temptation with Bluehorses and many others. What I witnessed was, without question, a rock band and a truly fabulous one at that. Quality musicians, fantastic songs – all MUCH more hard rocking than on their album (an album that hit the Top 20 in Portugal!) which is a shame because the album does not, in my mind, do them any justice. It did however, get radio play in their homeland – apparently Portugese radio will play nothing with loud guitars. If we’re not careful, the UK might get like that too.
£5 (FIVE!) … that’s all. Venues like The Railway work very hard to bring the world’s best music to us and what do we do? We say “Never heard of them! Let’s go for a coffee instead … and then we’ll download some music for free.” If we do not support the bands (new and old) and, more importantly, the venues we will be fed an homogenised, mush of bland nothingness from TV reality shows – the aural equivalent of baby food. Me? I prefer Michelin star, grown up food.
Come on people, support the scene. make a vow to try a live show by a band that you aren’t too aware of every month (or even week if you can) …. then, like me, you can have a new favouritest band such as Secret Lie. They were, to quote a Mr Hanson of this parish, “GENIUS!”
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