Review, Photography and Video by Mick Parry
For those who don’t know Santa Cruz are a Finnish band formed in 2007 by Arttu (Archie) Kuosmanen and Joonas (Johnny) Parkkonen who are the band’s lead and rhythm guitarists. The current line up was completed in 2009 with the addition of Mitjia (Middy) Toivonen on bass and drummer Tapani (Taz) Fagerstrom. After a couple of EP releases they were picked up by Spinefarm Records and released the debut album, 2013’s ” Screaming for Adrenaline”, which was well received and showed the huge potential in the band. I was fortunate enough to see the band three times following the release of this album and can safely say there was a huge improvement with every show, the confidence and stature on stage was ever growing.
Last year the band played the main stage at Hard Rock Hell in December and were very well suited to the larger arena which allowed their frantic stage movements and shapes a bigger area than the venues previously playedf(or example Manchester’s Club Alter Ego and Sound Control). It was also the opportunity for the guys to play some songs from the forthcoming self titled second album. These songs “Wasted and Wounded” and “Velvet Rope” showed a harder edge and a more mature approach with the lyric writing whilst still containing the same Santa Cruz party vibe.[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ocf1YJdag-Q]
The album “Santa Cruz” was released earlier this month and is a much more mature, stronger collection with superior production to the first and very well worth picking up if you like loud hard rock with Glam overtones.
So to the Manchester show! It was clear on arrival that, despite being first band on of a triple bill, a large portion of the crowd had come to see the boys. Once again the curse of the 7.30 doors at the Academy meant a shortened set by the band, only one song but one of my personal faves … D’oh!
The show started with last year’s single release “We Are The Ones To Fall” a big ballsy opener with frantic guitars and a huge bass line and the crowd were at it from the first note. This was followed with “Velvet Rope” and “My Remedy” which passed by like a steam train at 100mph with the guys all over the stage, heads banging everywhere. Then we had the huge “Let Them Burn” and the intensity went up another notch we were way passed 11 now. The final two songs the fantastic “Wasted and Wounded” and the finale of “Aiming High” including Archie climbing the barrier to sing with the audience and Johnny jumping offstage into the pit with his guitar and then that was it, way too short and seemed to pass in the blink of an eye. They had great sound, not always the case for the opening band on a triple bill, and received a fantastic ovation from the crowd.
Speaking to Middy after the gig, he confirmed the band would be back later this year as they are playing the Rockingham festival … I for one can’t wait to get that “Party Started”