Fireworks

Massive / Skam / At The Sun Hot

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Massive / Skam / At The Sun - Camden Underworld, London (UK) - 13 July 2019

Occasionally, a band comes along who deserve to be bigger than they are. They play louder, perform tighter, and win the crowd more than many veterans can. At The Sun is such a band. They opened Massive's gig at The Underworld, Camden with a fat dose of Stonerish Hard Rock with plenty of Blues influences thrown in for good measure. Take Bad Touch and blow them up bigger, bolder and with ball-busting bass. A five-piece, they worked the cosy stage of the Underworld professionally and with flair, and the balance of the lead and rhythm guitar – Chet Jogia and Kieron Heavens respectively – meant there was no competition either for the spotlight or for the crowd's ears. Vocalist Harry Dale's rich voice breezed through H.e.a.t-esque melodies and the tracks were tidy without losing their rawness or edge. Most notable was the pleasant lack of crispness, however, like the equivalent of a soft-focus lens on a camera; the sound was warm, bluesy and above all, powerful. Polka dots, velvet jackets, stylishly-delivered slick solos, baroque prints and soul; what more could you want? Next London show is 10th October at The Water Rats.

The second support, SKAM, was a showy, modern three-piece who brought plenty of energy but slightly fewer riffs. Heavy and brash – the music and style – the band was well-received although the sound felt sludgy at times, with a thick and impenetrable sound. The feel was definitely on the more modern side, akin to The Foo Fighters, but sometimes the high-octane delivery was all there really was to it. The new album has potential, however, a possible contender for it was a blistering onslaught of drum and bass, even if the vocals were a little atonal. Stand-out elements elsewhere were the melodic harmonised backing vocals – bringing a welcome change of tone – and the crowd engagement of Steve Hill (guitar/vocals) and Matt Gilmore (bass/backing vocals). The bass-heavy groove was also no bad thing. They were fun to watch but generally rather repetitive.

Fireworks - The Ultimate Magazine For Melodic Rock Music

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Massive had come all the way from Australia and clearly decided to make the most of it. From the opening song they were notably tight and delightfully unpredictable, embodying their lyrics "here to start a riot" and "you can't keep us quiet". Vocalist Brad Marr was a furious amalgamation of the lungs of Kenny Leckremo and the playfulness of Scotti Hill, all jacked up on steroids. Their third album, 'Rebuild Destroy', came out in February this year and they followed it up with a gig full of tracks in new-age Skid Row style from fast, relentless vocals paired with chunky riffs and bullet-like bass to oozing into low-slung bluesy noodling. 'Hollywood' was one of the highlights, pairing dirty guitar with a Massive sound (sorry), bass thumping through and steaming drums. In fact, drummer Andrew Geentree was potentially the unsung hero of the whole frenzy, arms a whirlwind but never fully in the limelight. Ben Laguda's lead guitar was controlled but not shy, managing to craft meaty riffs without over-playing and pushed out some bruising bridges. It's rare a guitarist actually asks to say something but the personable, party vibe was undeniable and refreshing.

The band tore through their seventy-five-minute set, only really breaking to ask who wanted to buy them a beer. They certainly had the wit to match their music, pairing meaty riffs with quips like "We'll drink anything you buy us...and sleep with your wives." Said beer provided they were on their way again, hitting their stride with added bass and energy and carrying the crowd with them in a throbbing fire of a tune. Tracks do tend to feel like they follow a recipe, but it's one that never fails to go down well. Marr showed off his versatility with a laconic Josh Todd-style delivery before downing a bottle to satisfy the by-now baying crowd. The beer-throwing and synchronised behind-the-head playing felt a bit removed from the crowd, but it's bands like these that keep local scenes not just alive but thriving.

If Bullets & Octane were Australian is a good comparison – remove the sleaze, crank up the straight-up Hard Rock, keep the attitude and crowd engagement – in a word, irrepressible. If you missed Massive they're back in London at the Forum on 14th September. They'll do then what they came to do this time: put on a Massive show.

Sophie Brownlee

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