Live Photos and Gig Review Credit: Adrian Hextall (Photographer/Live Gig reporter)
Sometimes acoustic gigs reveal hidden treasures and sometimes they absolutely bomb. The artists playing tonight offer years of experience and some big name bands that they have played with over the years. The Borderline is relatively full early on in the evening as fans of all artists arrive to see some of their favourite songs stripped bare.
Getting the ball rolling is the man with more jobs than you could wish upon someone. Front man of his own band, Eureka Machines, sidekick to Ginger Wildheart on most of his recent projects and co-artist with CJ Wildheart during his set tonight as well, it’s amazing that Chris Catalyst has time to even think about doing his own solo acoustic set.
Starting with material from the last Eureka Machines album ‘Remain in Hope’, Chris either has the best two opening tracks of the night or he’s peaked two early by not saving them for the last two tracks of his set. I think ‘Pop Star’ is one of the best pop rock anthems written in recent years and it’s over and done with before the audience has managed the first half pint of the night.
‘The Story Of My Life’ is one of a couple of tracks from début ‘Do Or Die’ aired tonight and is a further reminder why Chris finds himself in such high demand from other artists. Not only can he write a very catchy tune but he also nails some great lyrics as well. The majority of the crowd knows Chris from the work he’s done in his own band and with the other acts and as such the chat, interaction and laughter commences early and the crowd rapidly warms up. As he finishes to freshen up before joining CJ on stage during Act III, he swaps places with Paul Miro.
Good Guys Finish Last
Story Of My Life
God Only Knows (The Beach Boys cover)
The One Who Wouldn’t Change You
Red Wine Smile
A Ballad To Finish
Take On Me (a-ha cover)
Best known for his work with Apes, Pigs & Spacemen during the 90s and early 2000s, Paul delivered, with the band, three great albums during that time namely Transfusion (1995), Snapshot (1998) and Free Pawn (2003). A mix of rock and grindcore metal in his history therefore meant that I approached his solo acoustic set with, not trepidation, but a sense of intrigue wondering how a man who can bark and growl with the best of them might deliver a simple acoustic set with the passion and energy seen on his earlier works.
Thankfully we need not have worried. His set was amongst the best of the night, causing this reviewer to part with well earned pennies to acquire his six album collective DVD ‘All Stripped Down Vol.1 – 6 Set‘ for further listening. His voice almost felt at times as if he were holding back such is the afore mentioned power that he can harness. In such an environment he sensibly knows when to turn it down a notch and it was a perfect fit for the evening overall. It does however make you want to hear him in an electric setting again, knowing full well what he can deliver when he turns it up to ten and lets loose that voice with a full backing band.
The audience really warmed to his set and I can guarantee a few more discs were sold to people this evening, eager to catch up on Paul’s collective works.
A small UK acoustic tour is likely to follow this year, catch him if you can.
Do I Need This / Dumb
Fragments / Monster
Take Our Sorrows Swimming
Carry On / Freedom
Chris Catalyst & CJ Wildheart
Fresh from a successful Pledge campaign that has seen his ‘Mable’ album garner rave reviews across the board CJ Wildheart returns to his first love, namely acoustic shows to his fans. Only he doesn’t. An acoustic show to CJ is like asking a Chef to become a Brain Surgeon for the day just because they are handy with a knife. CJ may well be handy with a guitar but as he confirms as he takes to the stage with Chris Catalyst, acoustic playing is so far removed from his comfort zone that he genuinely seems anxious to be on stage.
Given this is the last of the short tour with all of the acts, you’d assume that CJ would have settled down by now but no, he even has a music stand with tabbed music on it to remind him of the chords to help deliver the acoustic number to an eager crowd. If anyone was worried about what was to come however, they need not have been. It was a wonderful fun set with good humour and banter between the two acts on stage as they ran through acoustic reworkings of songs from the non-Wildhearts areas of CJ’s career. Along with a majority of tracks from ‘Mable’ including a fantastic stripped down version of ‘Down The Drain’, we are also presented with tracks from The Jellys (‘Lemonade Girl‘) and Honeycrack (‘Sitting At Home‘) to name a couple.
Chris Catalyst was probably there as a support for CJ given his nervousness about playing acoustic shows but in all honestly CJ was in fine form and could have nailed it on his own. What Chris did yet again bring to the mix however was, aside from great guitar work, some great vocal harmonies which do add immensely to the overall sound at such an intimate event.
Just a Love Song
Next To You
Always Believe Her
Down The Drain
Better Late Than Never
Sitting At Home
Tony Wright & Milly Evans
And so to our headliners. Tony and Milly have been touring the acoustic show, essentially out of the back of a van, for some time now and they’re clearly well honed at delivering some stripped down Terrorvision numbers as well as songs from Tony’s new Pledge led album ‘Thoughts N All’. Talking to Tony earlier in the evening, he confirmed that the Terrorvision numbers whilst imaginatively reworked would remain ‘show only’ rather than something that will eventually translate to the studio. It’s part of a drive to ensure people come to the venues to see the band rather than just download the tracks as soon as they make their way online. So whilst the new album is available for people to buy, the re-imagined Terrorvision numbers are a real highlight for fans who’ve not had the opportunity to hear them anywhere else other than in a live setting.
Everything works very well and sees Tony in fine voice and back on stage again after a lengthy hiatus that saw him almost give up on the music scene. He and Milly combine guitars very well and we get a nice mix of the new solo and reworked Terrorvision numbers over the course of an hour. All of the requisite fan favourites are there including ‘My House’ , ‘Tequila’, ‘Perseverance’ and of course main closer ‘Alice, What’s The Matter’. That they have been reworked so well is telling because the usual cheer of recognition at the beginning of each track is initially missing as the fans wonder what they are going to hear before realising it is one they do know, just presented a little bit left-field.
Many artists have tried to deliver reworked favourites to their fans some with success and others less so. Bon Jovi’s ‘This Left Feels Right’ is one such example where is was difficult to accept some of their classics as they were so radically different to the originals. Tony and Milly have certainly played around with the format and style of their best known songs but the core is still present and correct and as such the audience remain happy.
The new songs from ‘Thoughts n All’ sit well with the other material and highlight the struggle Tony has had over the last year or two as he considered where he was going in life and whether that life included music. Thankfully it does and then end result on stage tonight and the new album show just why he is indeed doing what he does best.
The set and evening finishes with everyone back on stage for an chaotic cover of Slade’s ‘Merry Christmas Everybody’ with audience and artists giving it their all on the chorus. A great gig to finish up 2014. Let’s hope we see more of all of tonight’s acts in 2015.
Babylon (Terrorvision cover)
Can’t Get Over
Love Hold On
Day After Day (Terrorvision cover)
Do You Love Me?
What Makes You Tick (Terrorvision cover)
Perseverance (Terrorvision cover)
Dog Chewed the Handle (Terrorvision cover)
Moonage Daydream (David Bowie cover)
My House (Terrorvision cover)
Tequila (Terrorvision cover)
Friends And Family (Terrorvision cover)
Alice What’s The Matter (Terrorvision cover)
Merry Christmas Everybody (Slade cover – all performers on stage)