If you’ve seen this band before, you’ll know them as deVience, a London based outfit that have injected the sort of lifeblood into their veins that can only be obtained from Hollywood’s legendary Sunset Strip. It’s as if the sound of the band was literally absorbed from the stages of places like the Rainbow Bar & Grill, the Whisky a Go Go, the Trocadero and more.
The band’s energetic front man, Giovanni Spano is perhaps known in the UK more for his appearance on talent show The X Factor. Making his way through the auditions, the Judge’s House and into the live finals, Gio showed a versatile vocal range that allowed him to really mix things up in front of the judges and the audience, gaining thousands of admirers up and down the country.
Of course, for those in the know, Gio has also spent the best part of the last 2 years performing in Jim Steinman’s ‘Bat Out Of Hell: The Musical’ in the part of Ledoux. If you’ve seen the show (we have been around 6 times in the last 8 months) you’ll know just what the boy can deliver.
This show marked a new phase for the band. A change of name from deVience to GIO, wisely capitalising on the public face of their frontman, new management, new PR and more. If you wanted to be there at the birth of something new and exciting, this show at the O2 Academy in London was the place to be.
A Q&A for the lucky few kick-started the evening with the band also posing for pictures and a little bit of 1-2-1 time for everyone. It’s how meet and greets should be done; competition winners, true fans, excited by the adrenaline rush of getting to meet the band up close and personal and not simply those people with the fattest wallets! They follow that with a live DJ set from Matt Stocks who had the unenviable job of keeping the crowd entertained for an hour or so before GIO came back to the stage. Thankfully a mix of seasoned rock classics kept the smiles and the drinks flowing.
Seasoned live performers with sets at the Isle of Wight Festival (where they will return this year) as well as at Planet Rock radio’s Planet Rockstock, the band have also played the likes of London’s famous 100 Club.
The show at the O2 was rescheduled from December and provided the band the opportunity to add some fresh material to the show and the setlist now incorporates a large portion of the songs Gio performed during his time on the X-Factor. It’s a neat touch that reflected the crowd present with hardened rockers that have followed deVience for several years standing side by side with families and children who were getting their first taste of a real rock concert.
Opening with Ignition and the the song that typifies the band’s approach to performing ‘Go Hard or Go Home’, where the concept of giving anything less than 100% on a performance is unheard of, the show got off to a fantastic start.
We were then treated to the first of several covers, those tracks from the X-Factor shows that sees reworked versions of Saturday Nights Alright for Fighting, the unbelievable cover of Britney’s ‘Baby One More Time, a stunning Welcome To The Jungle, Let Me Entertain You, Gimme Some Lovin’ and THE track to close the show, Wings’ classic Live and Let Die.
Interspersed throughout all of this are tracks from the band’s 2016 debut album and it’s amazing just how well their music fits with the reworked hard rock covers. That of course is down to the five members on stage with
Donnie Roulstone and Jim O’Connor sparring wonderfully on guitar. Ben Porter held court front and centre on bass whilst Gio barreled from side to side as well as spending half of the show on the security barrier to get closer to the crowed. Credit and a special mention has to go to Olli Carter though. Never have I watched a drummer so intently as I did with Olli. His style of playing and the fills that he seems to conjure out of thin air feel reminiscent of the late great Keith Moon. I’d love to see Olli and Zak Starkey playing side by side on some The Who classics as that would be something else!
The closed with Move, a song that saw both band and crowd do exactly that and with a rousing cheer from everybody present the five took their bows and departed. If this is what rebirths are made of then I’ll take 10!
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