Continuing their trek around the UK on their Back in Black tour (do you see what they did there?), Black Rain and The Black Stars arrived in sunny (well, when I say sunny….) Bolton for the sixth night of the eight night adventure. This tour sees the first UK appearances of French sleaze rockers Black Rain.
First off, if you haven’t visited The Railway yet – why not? Since opening as a music venue just under two years ago, the Railway has found itself host to many great bands (some lesser known and some names you will definately have heard of – Dan Reed, The Donnie Vie Band, Girlschool to name just a few). Situated just opposite Bromley Cross railway station (20 minutes from Manchester Victoria and on the main line to Blackburn), this 200+ capacity venue has set itself apart from the normal, wipe your feet on the way out place. Music videos play throughout the night (themed to the nature of that night’s gig), comfortable surroundings in the lounge area, and a fantastic stage (much bigger than your usual) with dedicated, in-house sound/lights and engineer. More importantly the owners clearly love music and have created somewhere that music fans can call home. There are bands at least twice a week (but 4 or more in a week have been known!) with Saturdays usually seeing some of the better tribute bands appearing. If you are anywhere near the North West, you MUST make a stop at The Railway.
Support for the tour were The Black Stars. The London based glam/punk band certainly kicked things off in style with their keep it simple rock ‘n’ roll setting the stall for a great night of sleazey glam. With titles such as “Sex, Drugs and Rock ‘n’Roll” you know exactly where The Black Stars are coming from – with a looseness and energy that was quite contagious, with a catchiness that belied the short time they have been together in the current line-up. The crowd certainly appreciated their energy. (Cool t-shirt design too!).
Black Rain were new to me. Formed in France during 2002 and following relentless touring through out Europe, they have quickly gained prominence in Europe (including touring as support of the Scorpions) and mentioned alongside names such as CrashDiet and Hardcore Superstar as leading lights in the European sleaze/glam movement.
They hit the ground running with their first track, making full use of the stage (including singer Swan’s mic stand – which certainly must win “The Most Ornate” award!) and their energy. Their hard hitting anthems certainly allowed their style to shine – sure their influences were apparent (hints of Motley Crue, traces of Guns n Roses) but Black Rain are very much their own band. Despite the fact that Black Rain were new to many of the crowd, they worked the crowd well (as evidenced by sales at the merch stand – with a range of goods rarely matched outside of the enormo-domes, including Black Rain condoms!) and it didn’t take long before the boys from France had a bunch of new fans who were singing along with Swan and the boys.
One thing that was for certain was that Black Rain gave amazing value for money. Not just a good length of set but at no point did they let the energy drop (particularly impressive given the heat!) – they hit the final song with the same insane levels of intensity as the first and the quality of the musicianship was fantastic – vocal harmonies, twin guitar and massive drum and bass rhythm attack. Talking of the final song, Black Rain produced a brilliant, glammed up version of “Twist and Shout” which closed the show on a brilliant note.
If you get chance, catch the remaining dates of the tour (Bogiez, Cardiff on 17th February and Salutation, Nottingham on 18th) – a double bill of great rock n roll that keeps it nice and sleazy.
For more information:
Black Rain – www.blackrain.fr
The Railway – www.railwayvenue.co.uk
By David Wilson
Live photographs by John McGibbon