So it’s been a very long time since I last reviewed a gig and what better way to come out of this mini retirement I fell into, than to review a gig that was full of versatility and well brilliance! And what a perfect time to mess with titles/writing styles then creepin’ back out of mini retirement!
Friday, April 21st I took a trip down to The Asylum Venue in Birmingham, a venue that has been a mini home for me over the years, to watch the boys; Marx, Led by Lanterns, The Real Cool and Seconds Apart. And boy was it something! I entered the venue only knowing who Led by Lanterns were and with the tiniest bit of research in regards to the other bands. Now this is my favourite thing to do with gigs at intimate venues. I love going into the unknown and experiencing the whole thing from discovering who a band is to watching them live to getting to know them. And it’s from this experience that, before we get to the nitty gritty, I just want to say all of these lads are absolutely the sweetest people you will ever meet! I haven’t been to a gig in a long time where all bands and all members of the bands, were as humble, appreciative and well sweet as all of these boys!
Now the nitty gritty…
… First onto the stage at this intimate venue was Marx. Marx is a rap artist who has also, in the past, dabbled into metal. Standing solo Marx worked the stage with utter confidence, interacting with the crowd and exclaiming his appreciation for being there and to all the other bands (especially the headline act). That alone was lovely to see, but Marx overall was ticking lots of boxes. Now as I said Marx is a rap artist, and that brought a massive twist to the night as the main genre was alternative. And besides his banter on stage, Marx performance was filled with some serious hard work! With well timed and placed beats, song transitions, and some serious lyrical work, Marx filled the venue with a refreshing set. Marx showcased fast lyrical production as well as some more slower paced lyrical build up adding depth to his songs. But he also showed some great music build up too with great use of strings into some of his songs, bringing a classical aspect within his hip-hop sound. As I mentioned at the begin Marx has previously worked within Metal and Pop Punk bands, so with that background you can appreciate that this guy has some serious potential, as he is versatile and talented. With that being said I can honestly say I can’t wait to see more of him and that he is doing a great job.
Second onto the stage were Led by Lanterns, a four piece midland based band who are smashing it! Led by Lanterns consists of Welsh and Brummy lads who are not only great musicians but musicians who are also fronting a great cause, which I will explain towards the end. With their pop punk vibe, the lads fit well into the overall Alternative scene of the night.
Now Led by Lanterns have three very strong vocalists who all have unique voices, this is something that could put them as a band at risk. However, these guys aren’t short of music knowledge or background. Each member has previously been in a different band, and with that combined with the fact they are each incredibly music savvy, the lads have managed to put themselves together and eliminate the risk of outshining/drowning out each other’s vocals. But they have also managed to showcase each vocalist’s talent and uniqueness too. This has been achieved by well placed harmonies and solo slots, which are visible throughout all songs and was incredible to watch live. Despite all vocals being amazing I will mention that the lead vocalist has something about their voice, that’s hard to pinpoint exactly the right way to describe. He’s got what I can only describe as a twang to his vocals that just stands out, and makes it different to what you’re used to and honestly, I just can’t get enough of it!
The body of music itself was just as talented as the vocals. The drums were intricate, provided a great beat throughout and even though they were loud and booming, they just felt right! There was no beat missed (at least none visible to the ear or eye), with the drummer showing that they have talent and skill. But the drummer also displayed through the set crowd interaction too in the form of what I can only describe as drum communication, for example that drum roll that’s used at the end of a joke, that was visible a few times throughout the set. And it was nice to see the drummer interacting with the crowd, alongside the other band members too. Now with guitars and bass, the tune was incredible! Bass was well heard, never faint in the background and provided more depth to the beat or the songs.
The boys performed their two released singles and it was amazing to watch. They sounded exactly how they were recorded, displaying that these guys 100% do not need help from technology enhancing. Their first released single was Recovery, and hearing the guitar riffs and executed bass, that builds the main body of the song live was a great experience. Their second release was Save a Life and it was even more astonishing to hear that live.
Now as I mentioned previously, the lads are working alongside a great cause and have produced a song to help with the campaign. The campaign in question? Well the Led by Lanterns boys are working alongside the ‘Save A Life Surrender Your Knife’ Campaign. A cause that is unfortunately needed in this day and age, as knife crime is a serious problem. Now with heart touching lyrics and soft yet powerful riffs, and a dominating bass and drum beat, Save a Life is the official song fronting this campaign alongside the incredible work of Artist Alfie Bradley’s 27ft Angel (made of knives). This is such a beautiful cause and seeing the lads join in the campaign just highlights how lovely these boys are. For more information on the campaign and the lads’ song please check out the links below attached to their name. All in all, I absolutely loved the Led by Lanterns set, and it was great to finally get to watch them properly and not just hear them singing walking around their house.
Third to the stage were The Real Cool, a three piece band from Birmingham who brought the second twist of the night to life, by bringing a well balanced mix of synth and 80’s pop influence to their dream pop/indie vibes. Now that may not be the best description of this band, to which I can only apologise, however once you hear them and you start to sway to their dancey yet mellow beats you will get the vibe I am referring to.
Starting out first with their stage presence I was absolutely digging them. The Real Cool are great to watch visually, as you can see they are enjoying themselves. With cheeky smiles flashed all round, dancing by the lead vocalist and bassist, and the head bops by the drummer. You can’t not enjoy watching them. Now the drummer was actually one of my favourite aspects of the set. While smashing out well executed beats, the drummer looked completely at ease. Like he generally looked like he was at home, that being on stage didn’t faze him. Hey for all we know, he may even have been thinking about what he was going to have for dinner! But I absolutely loved it! I loved how at ease and relaxed this guy was, I couldn’t stop watching him (apart from when my eyes were drawn away by the lead vocalists dance moves and bassists cheeky smile that is). This to me shows this guy knows what he is doing! He is confident in his performance and with his band members. This lad is talented! And he was doing nothing but displaying this throughout the set.
Getting back to the music, audio wise the band are just as great! Vocals, string, drums and synth were all balanced well within each song which was refreshing. Vocals were dreamy, powerful but not in an overbearing manner as they were still quite soft and gentle feeling. Drums, as mentioned before, where were great! The beat was steady, consistent, nothing missed and very well timed! Bass was strong, clearly heard and provided a lower version of the main tune within songs. Guitar was subtle, provided the main tune but was not always consistent which added a quirky depth to their songs. Synth was subtle, provided further depth and added more tune build up, and tangled in nicely. Having the mix of strings, vocals, drums and synth allowed for the lads to truly layer up their songs with intricate slots so that their there was never once one instrument heard longer than the other, never anything overshadowed and an overall great performance was achieved.
The overall set of The Real Cool was amazing, I thoroughly enjoyed it and I can’t wait to catch them again!
Finally the Yorkshire boys were on the stage getting ready to show Birmingham what they’ve got. And boy was I not prepared for what was to come!
Deep moody tones filled the now pitch black room whilst three spot lights scanned the room like mini lighthouses, before the lead vocalist proudly broke the suspense with an arena styled announcement. A little further suspense built before the band broke all silence and blasted some serious talent. If you closed your eyes during that very moment I assure you, you would have felt like the venue was your local arena. Which was incredible to witness as unfortunately there are bands out there that see smaller more intimate venues as only what they are. So the music is playing, with incredible drums, amazing guitar riffs, great bass and then this loud strong booming vocals fill the room. Honestly these boys are incredible.
After the first song is over we get an introduction to who these boys are and get a hint of cheekiness from the lead vocalist when a little sneaky comment is made about Yorkshire being the home of the best tea. From here, their performance gets stronger and stronger.
Now Seconds Apart are an alternative band, with some serious and I mean serious potential! Each member is super talented and it’s displayed throughout the set, however the overall package as a band is just bliss! The drummer throughout produces very in time beats, with intricate and fast paced moves that see him using every inch of his drum kit. There is not a single beat missed, there is no hesitation and frankly I wish I had more words to use other than incredible, amazing and great, because he was all of those things. What I loved about the drums in this band was how abrupt they could sound, like hello I’m here, and it truly helps to build on the alternative angle they’re going for. Guitar and backing vocals, well, they were fascinating! Slightly distorted riffs build up that alternative aspect of their music, however that’s not where the guitarist’s skills end. With fast changes from rhythm to lead and back again constantly, the guitarist showcases how incredible he is with his guitar. And that’s not where it ends for him either. His vocals are a slightly deeper tone than the lead vocalists, and he is also able to provide that alternative “scream” vibe during some of their songs. Now with this it creates another layer to their music, as it produces a natural harmony as well as backing and variety. As a vocalist he is also super talented. Now the lead vocalist is also the bassist. So again there is another multi-tasker in the band, and he is also extremely talented. With an unusual and very unique voice, the lead vocalist is able to fully utilise this within their songs and his performance. Being able to hit the high notes as well as he does is also very beneficial! The vocals throughout were breathtaking, there was no slip up on lyrics, no heavy breathing through the microphone and everything was clearly sung, which meant you weren’t left trying to figure out what the lyrics were. In terms of the bass, it was also very well timed, providing depth to the main beat of the songs but also strengthening the rhythm created by the guitarist. Overall, again, the lead vocalist is a very talented lad and just adds to the fact that the whole band is just marvellous!
Visually, the band were a delight to watch! The drummer was very animated, the guitarist used his space well and showed off some dance moves including some head bops and headbangs, and the lead vocalist was like a typical bassist and vocalist! Moving round the whole stage fully taking advantage of the space he had and the fact he’s got very long legs, he was everywhere! Including at one point in the audience, on a chair and just loving performing. What made them all the more delightful to watch was each member was also having a great time. Inbetween songs when they were interacting with the crowd and introducing songs they were all smiling genuine smiles, making jokes and you can tell they really put their heart into their performance. For me that made it better.
So, covers. They can either be great or they can be just pure cringe. When the lead vocalist announced they were going to do a cover of a song they felt was going to be good for a little sing song, I’m not gonna lie I was hit with nervous. Well this was one of those great ones and I can safely say I’ve never heard anything like it before! Starting off with Clean Bandit – Rather be, the lads put a quirky spin on the dance/indie number by throwing some alternative vibes all over it. But then it swiftly turned into Rage Against the Machine, and then to Craig David and then, my personal favourite, into R Kelly – Bump n Grind and then swiftly back into Clean Bandit – Rather Be. IT WAS INCREDIBLE! The transitions were swift yet slid perfectly into each other, the alternative aspect on these popular R’n’B/Pop songs and the including of iconic tracks was just intensely creative, clever and pure genius! I was gobsmacked yet in awe of that very moment! If I hadn’t already found a likening to this band I definitely was appreciating them now.
Seconds Apart were as you can tell, to me, great. I loved every aspect of their set and I highly recommend you check them out if you haven’t already. They have got some serious talent and some serious potential, I can see these guys going places and when you see them live you’ll see it too.
I will take this time now to say thank you to Marx, Led by Lanterns, The Real Cool and Seconds Apart for such a wonderful show, and for being so welcoming. Thank you for taking the time to speak to me inbetween interacting with each other and the audience. Thank you for being humble, gracious to one another and for showing what music is about.
If you haven’t already go check out these guys and their Facebook pages, they’re all incredible and you won’t be disappointed.
As always, thank you for taking the time to read my post filled with my opinions and thoughts. I honestly means more than you could imagine!
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