OK, I admit it – I live for music and do develop obsessive, compulsive tendencies in respect of bands that cross my path. The last couple of months has seen that situation raise it’s head not once but TWICE (at least!) with the latest one being ColdSpell from Sweden (“Really? You should have mentioned them”, said nobody reading Rock-Zone UK or my personal social media sites). Having already become entranced by their latest release, “Frozen Paradise” and having thoroughly enjoyed their set at HRH AOR 2, the post festival come down hit me with a thunderous crash on my return from Pwll…. North Wales (nope, still can’t spell/say it). Despite having my newly purchased copy of their second album, “Out From the Cold”, it was going to be a couple of weeks for that purveyor of books/CDs (anything, really), named after a South American river to get the order of “Infinite Stargaze” to me and that wasn’t enough. What, dear reader, could I do?
As it turned out, just a short 45 minutes (ish) drive from home, the Swedes were playing at The Box in Crewe. Quick message to the ever understanding Mrs W to ask did she fancy another a gig? The efforts of the previous three days/nights had taken their toll and the spirit was willing but the flesh, weak. Instead, number one daughter said that she would like to come with her dear old dad! With that, Thunderbirds were …. GO! For the first time in many years I was about to see a band more than once in three days, and I couldn’t wait. Even more exciting was that it meant I could catch local heroes Lawless, who I had missed at HRH because of the travel arrangements.
The Box is a great little venue, with a stage that reminded me a little of a school assembly hall (a very rock and roll school, I must add), plenty of room a friendly chap on the door (and even better, a few friendly faces from visits to The Railway and the previous weekend – clearly not just me that’s obsessive?). Try the place – I rather liked it! As we were not planning on venturing forth as representatives of Rock-Zone UK, we hadn’t been able to get to the venue for doors opening time, so missed the bulk of, opening act, Junker’s set. They seemed to be well known to the local scene and, what they describe as, their blend of heavy rock, hardcore punk, indie and funk seemed to go down well. More to the hardcore punk end of that description to my , they gave a strong showing and performed well. I’m not sure they were the obvious fit on a bill with two bands more firmly at the melodic end of the scale. With songs such as “Sick”,I’m sure that if you sliced these boys in two you’d see their influences of Metallica, Tool, A Perfect Circle, The Cult, Foo Fighters, Queens of the Stone Age, Smashing Pumpkins, Black Sabbath and Helmet running through them as if they were a stick of Blackpool rock.
A short break and on came Lawless. Made up of members of legends Demon and Persian Risk, the Staffordshire based four piece are clearly developing a following on the back of their 2013 debut “Rock Savage” and, clearly, tonight’s set was going to push the album (I promise the review is coming!). The thing with the Lawless album was that, again, Davey W was swayed by the press release …NWOBHM, tracks like “Metal Time” (tonight’s opener, by the way), pointy font logo (I realise that I should know better by now – schoolboy error!). So much so that, by the time I realised I liked the record I’d forgotten to review it. Even worse, I would happily put “Rock Savage” up there in the “Oh bugger, how did I miss that?” category where I found Eden’s Curse (I think I mentioned them a couple of times?) and ColdSpell. As I said, the opening track was “Metal Time”, complete with sampled intro. Yes, I used the “s” word and in my mind there’s nothing wrong with using them (unless the band decide to go all “Milli Vanilli” on us) and they add to the show – like they did tonight. What Lawless have produced is a band of slick melodies, crunching guitar and bass, nice hooks and the songs to provide you with that old fashioned thing about rock music – something to sing along/chant along with. This is especially with “Step In” and the audience participation time set of “Wo-ah, wo-ah!”, previously found as a trademeark of Desmond Child – always something to bring a smile to this face anyway. The album does contain a few nice studio touches that the band bring to the live forum well – a touch of sample to just put a bit of showbiz, shimmer to go with the quality musicians in front of us …. They have just announced that they will playing at Rock Wich Festival in Northwich on 24th August. If you are nearby, get there …. tickets are only £5!
Finally, the moment was here. ColdSpell, hit the stage, opening up with “Heroes” and once again the power and grace of their music hit me. As mentioned, although melodic, they are at the harder end of the spectrum. Great vocals from Niclas Svedentorp soar and take the songs to a level that should see ColdSpell much higher up the world pecking order of rock. Just like the best rock bands, keyboards are there to support and grow the songs, providing some beautiful lift to the crunching bass and drums from the whirling dervish on bass, Chris Goldsmith, and powerhouse drummer Perra Johansson. That brings us to founder member, song writer in chief and all round guitar god, Mikael Larsson – here is a guy driven to produce, along with his band mates, quality rock music for the 21st century. Bringing together the best bits of metal, AOR and (shh, don’t say it too loud) some of the best hook elements of the best in pop songs. In a week when another band with Cold in their name are all over the world press, it’s great to find a band that totally lack the beige (or should that be dull “Yellow”) of Mr Martin’s multi-million selling band – rocking, rolling and smiling from start to finish what a great set. Blending tracks from all three albums, there was plenty for fans new (like me) and old – I particularly enjoyed the tracks from previous albums as they revealed that when Micke started the band, there was a fully formed, image and sound from day one. They clearly had no problem with albums two and three in terms of maintaining a level of quality control that signifies the very greatest of bands. If there was any grumbles it was the omission of “Seven Wonders” (from “Out From the Cold”), such a great track that I would have loved to have seen live.
All too soon the show was over (next time you’re in the UK, ColdSpell must play longer sets) and the band joined the audience for photographs and a chat. With both Lawless and ColdSpell it was clear that we witnessed two bands for whom the opportunity to play for their fans is paramount – this was in no way about just going through the motions. For me, the big shame was that I couldn’t continue in my obsessive fanboy’s quest and follow the boys to London, Nuneaton and Grimsby … Mrs W would have had something to say about that (not to mention the day job!), but I could quite happily have watched both bands again and again. On a positive note for my bank balance, Lawless have only released one album – at least I don’t need to go out and buy their entire back catalogue …. can’t wait for their next gig and album though!
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