Monday, 1 May 2017

31/3/2017 JoanOvArc & Syteria @ Big Red

Sorry it's taken me a month to get this published - I've been having a lot of computer problems, and I also managed to lose all the pictures I took on the night! I knew I'd downloaded them off my phone and digicam, but after spending ages searching hard drives and multiple flash drives I couldn't find them anywhere - I've been living in PC chaos this year and after various attempts to install new operating systems (and failing) plus endless backing up and formatting hard drives and swapping in/out various hardware trying to make things work it's been tough trying to get anything done. I eventually found the pictures, but but they were pretty poor quality due to the venue lighting and smoke machine, plus due to the aforementioned tech problems I don't currently have any decent photo editing software installed on my PC to tidy them up a bit so I had to use them 'as is'. Yes, I know there are crap - but you should see all the ones I didn't use!

This had all the makings of a good night - and it certainly didn't disappoint! This show is the London date of the 'Women That Rock Tour' that is currently heading round the UK featuring these two excellent bands. Two great bands playing in a rock bar in Holloway Road, free admission, and beer at reasonable(ish) prices - what's not to like? Big Red has been a popular watering hole with rockers for many years now, but in more recent times it has also taken steps towards becoming a live music venue as well. Not every night, or even every week, but live ROCK bands now appear here fairly regularly - something which goes down very well with the bar's regular clientelle.
Tonight features Syteria playing their second ever London show. The first was at the top end of Holloway Road at the former Archway Tavern, and now they move to a point near the middle - before maybe eventually working their way down to The Garage at the other end of Holloway Road? And maybe even further on the other side of Highbury Corner to the larger Islington Academy one day? But tonight finds them playing in a far more suitable venue compared to their first London show, and to a much bigger crowd.
They seem to thrive in this venue and are definitely playing to the right sort of crowd. Even though the band are based in Leeds and have hardly played in London at all there are quite a lot of people already wearing Syteria T-shirts - and the merch stand ensures there are even more being worn by the end of the evening. This band are obviously doing something right!
Girlschool lead guitarist Jackie Chambers started this band back in her home town oop North a couple of years ago. Girlschool are still going, but they tend to have a lot of downtime between festival appearances and recording new stuff so Jax wanted to keep busy and get out there playing - so Syteria were born. The band are all good players and performers - bassist Keira is in demmand and has recently been on a UK tour with Australian girl rockers Tequila Mockingbird standing in for their usual bass player who couldn't make it to the UK.
This new band is noticeably heavier and more 'metal' than Jackie's 'day job' band, although Girlschool are no lightweights as far as hard rock bands go. Syteria are more heavy in both image and sound, but Jackie's punk rock roots show through when the band throw in a cover of the Ramones classic 'Rockaway Beach'. Apart from this it's pretty much original material all the way and there are some good catchy tunes in there. The band are already getting people singing along to their own songs like 'Sheeple', 'Hypocrite', and 'Revolution' from their forthcoming album 'Rant-O-Bot'. Syteria are all good musicians and have great stage presence so it's an entertaining show that makes you want to see them again.
The 'Women that rock' theme for these band's current tour (we'll turn a blind eye to Syteria's male drummer - although he does a good job) continues with tonight's other band the always excellent JoanOvArc. Like the previous band they have drawn quite a crowd tonight if the amount of JoanOvArc T-shirts in the audience is anything to go by.
This is a band who always deliver. With their debut album just released and airplay on Planet Rock radio plus being featured on Hard Rock Hell Radio recently things are really starting to look up for them. Anyone who has seen these girls play live will tell you this is long overdue! The Album's title track and biker anthem 'Ride Of Your Life' is a strong early part of the band's set, but there is even better to come....
In London tonight the band have found themselves in the right venue with the right crowd - a large bar full of rockers who want to rock out big time on a Friday night. This is exactly what happens. JoanOvArc are highly experienced performers who absolutely thrive on a crowd like this. They have brought a load of their own fans to Big Red tonight for their first visit here, but they also have no trouble winning over a lot of people who have never seen them before and many regulars who have probably never heard of them - this band are really in their element tonight.

As the band know they are playing to a rock crowd they pull out all the stops tonight - they are on fire! As well as the full-on out and out rockers this band are so good at like 'Live Rock & Roll', 'White Trash' and 'Seeds Of Summer' the band still show their more pop/commercial side with songs like recent single 'Dragon In The Sky' plus the very melodic 'Running Away' and 'Five Years'. I look round when they are playing newish song 'Work' from the album and this song which to me has a rather Katrina & The Waves 'Walking On Sunshine' feel has most of the people in the room bouncing up and down even though they have probably never heard it before - the band are creating a terrific atmosphere!

As there are only two bands on the bill tonight JoanOvArc have the chance to play a much longer set than usual - they play for over an hour and by no means use up all the original songs in their repertoire they have built up over the years - they have some great songs which they don't play anymore as they have to make room for the newer stuff. Tonight they have time to play virtually their entire new album plus a few other bits and pieces. The long awaited album 'Ride Of Your Life' is a great showcase of the bands varied strengths - from out and out hard rockers, to ballads and more commercial 'pop' sounding songs - all well crafted and played. But it's the rockers that really reach and and grab you - this is where the band's real passion lies and also where they really shine as an amazing live act! There isn't really any need to play any covers tonight as they have already won the crowd over with the strength their own songs, but they know throwing in 'Ace Of Spades' towards the end will go down a storm in this venue - and it does. To finish the show and also really whip this rock loving crowd into a frenzy they finish with 'Freebird'. I have seen many bands cover this song over the years - most of them very good - but no one can touch the JoanOvArc version of this song. They play it not because it's a known crowd-pleaser and will win an audience over or get them a repeat booking - they play it because they absolutely love playing it. And it shows. The sheer passion and love the band show for this song when they perform it really is something special and genuinely exciting - it really is an amazing climax to the show and the feeling they put into the song and the feeling it generates in those watching is something I have very rarely felt.
It's been a great night out and didn't cost much either - free admission and only £1.50 each way for transport. Both the bands were terrific and I hope to see them again soon, although I expect I'll have to pay to see them next time. Sorry there weren't more pictures - especially of JoanOvArc (and in particular the lovely Debbie on drums and Laura on guitar) but most were far too poor quality to use.

1 comment:

  1. This was a great evening and my first time seeing both bands. Really enjoyed Syteria and Joanovarc were brilliant, women that REALLY rock indeed (and yes a special mention to Syteria's drummer who was the only boy in the proceedings).I've since downloaded their album which doesn't have any filler, just a bunch of great tunes