Words and Pictures (C) Adrian Hextall \ MindHex Media
This was the first time I’d been back at the Assembly Hall in almost 2 years and it’s not changed a bit. Except, one notable thing that has changed is the PA. Whatever they’ve done to the sound system whilst the venue has been idling away during the pandemic has resulted in a great mix of volume and clarity and it’s a mix that suited the three acts on the bill perfectly.
The three acts make for an interesting blend of styles. Opener, Tim Prottey-Jones, is a friend of Nathan James and has co-written one of the tracks that would feature later in the headliner’s set. Mercutio are an alternative rock band with more than a hint of Muse and Biffy Clyro about them and Inglorious, well, we know what they can do. Their brand of thundering hard rock, that puts them head and shoulders above any of the newer emerging rock bands, is the main reason we were in the venue in the first place.
A solo country musician with an acoustic guitar will always have a couple of problems going on first with a rock crowd. Firstly those that have come in early and don’t know the artist’s work will use the time before the headliner to drink and chat to their mates rather than focus intently on the person on stage. Secondly if an early acoustic set is going to work, you need to build some banter with the crowd to engage them.
Sadly the former happened but thankfully so did the latter. For those engaged enough to pay attention, Tim always had something to say and made his stories and anecdotes worth listening to. The highlight, without a doubt (and highlighted by the man himself) was that after years of being told he and his partner would be unlikely to ever have a family, he is now a proud Dad and the grin as he told the story and the opportunity to give the experts the finger to prove them wrong was really heart warming. As such, we clapped, we cheered and we had a good time.
He may have been ‘just’ a man on stage with a guitar but his blend of music, lyrics and charm easily won us over.
Named after the fictional character in William Shakespeare’s 1597 tragedy, Romeo and Juliet, Mercutio comprises Ross William Wild, an enigmatic vocalist, with a history in musical theatre, Fab Staffieri on guitar, drummer Edoardo Mariotti and bassist Andrea Lonardi. Whilst the music may well be a team effort, Wild certainly brings his theatrical skills to bear as he strutted and strode around the stage, kitted out in a tight white vest over the top of a rather ripped torso. I am of course providing the descriptive text to anyone that might appreciate that sort of thing and would remind them that there are 40 odd photos in the gallery below! Smashing!
To be fair the band really know how to put on a show and they do it around their animated front man who has the style and flourish of a young Iggy Pop. Their music, as noted contains traces of Biffy, a dash of Muse, a huge amount of theatre and the heaviness that definitely caught the crowd by surprise following the slightly softer and more subtle styling of Prottey-Jones. They’ve also done themselves no harm at all on the marketing front by latching onto a logo resulting in a slightly disturbing two tone cat mask that was on sale in the foyer. It also suggests a headline show with the fans kitted out wearing them could be quite something else.
Singles Slap Bang and Playtime both got an airing as did Where The Pain Lives, showing both a dark and light side to the music that the band play. Chaos Is King as well as C Word (not that one apparently!) and The Ghost also gave a great indication of what to expect if and when the band are given a prime time slot at the top of the bill.
For now, we have to make do with a short but extremely interesting set, one that was full of energy, has a front man that suggests great things for the band are just around the corner and a new album, Antagonist, (released only in June of 2021) that now warrants some serious attention.
Not content with giving us a brand new studio album this year with We Will Ride, Inglorious have recently pulled another rabbit out of the hat and delivered Heroine. A covers album with a twist. Taking, as the title would suggest, some of the best tunes ever committed to tape by some of the greatest female musicians, Heroine contains music originally performed by Heart, Evanescence, Avril Lavigne, Tina Turner, Halestorm and more. It even opens with a cover of the amazing Queen of the Night, originally performed by the late, great Whitney Houston.
The set was peppered with tracks from Heroine and rightly so. Nathan James has the power and the range to take on almost any song and do it justice although I’ve yet to hear him attempt anything by Lamb of God or Pantera so maybe there is a limit to what he’ll try? Who knows! The band certainly have the chops to do it. Whilst Danny Dela Cruz might get a lot of press for his playing skills for someone so young, it overlooks the quality of his bandmate on the other side, namely Dan Stevens.
Dressed in a black vest, again showcasing the sort of ‘buffness’ that suggests he and Ross William Wild go to the same gym together, he added a dash of flair with a wicked red bowler hat that deserves to have copies sold at the merch desk at every Inglorious show in the future.
Vinnie Colla on bass and mainstay Phil Beaver who got his own chant along from the crowd early on in the show couldn’t be faulted with a great rhythm section and provided the driving force across all of the songs. Phil even came from behind the drum kit to play some acoustic guitar at the mid-point of the set.
What was noticeable however was just how well the new covers sit alongside Inglorious’ own. With Rob Lindop providing some beautiful keyboard work in the shadows, the interpretation of the tracks meant that the version we got to hear sounded as if the band had written them as well. No mean feat when you put Time After Time (Cyndi Lauper) alongside Medusa on the setlist.
As the classic Holy Water finished ringing in our ears, the band played a couple more numbers including I Don’t Need Your Loving, and then Tim Prottey-Jones returned to the stage to perform Eye Of The Storm with them. It’s a track he co-wrote with Nathan and explains the opening set.
This may well be Inglorious MKIII or MKIV, with just Nathan and Phil remaining from the original line up, but what they bring to the table is pure rock class. Dan and Danny play off each other brilliantly, both allowing the other the fair share of spotlight moments during solos. Nathan is Nathan… that voice is instantly recognisable and has the power and range to level a town if he put his mind to it.
Welcome back to the live arena Inglorious, you have been missed!
She Won’t Let You Go
Midnight Sky (Miley Cyrus cover)
Where Are You Now?
Read All About It
Uninvited (Alanis Morissette cover)
Glory Days (Acoustic)
Time After Time (Cyndi Lauper cover) (Acoustic)
He Will Provide
I Don’t Need Your Loving
Eye of the Storm
We Will Ride
Until I Die