Concert Reviews

Houston / Serpentine / Vega Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     May 20, 2011    
0.0 (0)
5946   0   1   0   0   0



Houston / Serpentine / Vega - The Borderline, London (UK) - 4th of March 2011.

With the recent upturn in interest in AOR it only stands to reason that there will be younger bands coming through playing music in that style alongside the long-standing well known names of the genre. Hopefully there will be many more gigs like this to come – in fact there will as a six-date tour has already been booked as well as all three of these bands playing at Firefest – but getting three of the best new bands around for the princely sum of £8 is a deal that I'm betting will never be repeated.

Vega, the band featuring the talents of ex-Kick singer Nick Workman and the talented Martin brothers, James and Tom, have had great reviews across the board for their debut album 'Kiss Of Life', and quite rightly too as they've struck a great balance between traditional melodic rock and something a little more modern. With a great sound from the beginning the lively 'Into The Wild' gets things underway and immediately gets the crowd going with the infectious backbeat of Dan Chantrey, with new bassist Rob Wilde, despite looking like he's in the wrong band with his shaggy two-tone hair and guyliner, helping out the backing vocals immensely and moving about far more than anybody bar the confident Workman himself. The band use their limited time extremely well with highlights being the insanely catchy 'Staring At The Sun', the excellent ballad 'What It Takes' and great upbeat rockers like 'Heart Of Glass', 'S.O.S' and 'Kiss Of Life'. They've been out playing shows since the end of last year and their professionalism shows through, my only criticism being that there's very little movement from guitarists Nick Horne and Tom Martin leaving Workman and Wilde to carry the show, but playing and song-wise Vega just can't be faulted.

It was South Wales based Serpentine's first ever live gig, and to be honest having to follow Vega isn't something I would wish on anyone, but to their credit if they were nervous then it didn't show much. Having recently replaced TNT/Shy singer Tony Mills with the relatively unknown Matt Black due to Mills' other commitments making it impossible for him to tour, it has to be said that Black is certainly a better visual fit being of the same mid-twenties age as his bandmates. As they kicked off with the extended intro the first album's title track, 'A Touch Of Heaven', it was immediately apparent how well rehearsed they were, and also great to see the faces in the crowd the moment Black opened his mouth and delivered the soaring vocals with ease. With bassist Gareth Vanstone and keyboard player Gareth David Noon helping out on backing vocals it's impressive just how easily they can create the sound of their heavily layered album, with the extra bite of Chris Gould's Zakk Wylde Les Paul and Roy Millward's powerful drumming giving the songs far more grit than the keyboard-heavy recorded versions of songs like 'Lonely Nights' and 'Let Love Rain Down'. However, it's Black that's the main focal point and his stratospheric vocals, with just a hint of a warble to avoid being a Mills copyist, cut through the mix like a hot knife through butter. New songs 'Philadelphia' and 'Cry' from the forthcoming sophomore album certainly bode well for a chunkier future and the insanely catchy 'Whatever Heartache' brings up the rear with a chorus that won't leave your head for days. Their first album came out just before anyone knew there was a new wave of AOR coming, and as such they were probably the least known of the bands on offer, but despite a couple of slightly off-key moments during the earlier songs, I doubt any band could hope for more than this from their first ever live show.

Fireworks - The Ultimate Magazine For Melodic Rock Music

This website uses cookies to help us give you the best experience when you visit. Cookies used for the essential operation of the site have already been set. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, see our Privacy Statement.

I accept cookies from this site

The great reviews that Houston's debut album has been met with are, in my opinion, totally deserved as the Swedish duo have tapped into the subtlety that AOR used to have before everyone started cluttering up their albums with layer upon layer of guitars, keys and backing vocals. The album was refreshing as it gave the songs room to breathe, even though, again in my opinion, it was still a few great songs short of the genre classic it's being made out to be in some circles. I'd been here for the soundcheck earlier and it had been quite impressive, but despite the great reception they got I feel they made a few wrong calls. The all-white clothes, especially when you have female guitarists of the blonde (Filippa Naessil) and brunette (Helena Alsterhed) varieties, just looks like an Abba pastiche. Similarly with opener 'One Chance' having a definite 'Eye Of The Tiger' beat to it, singer Hampus 'Hank' Erix' white boxer robe, complete with his name on the back and the boxing gloves, just managed to confirm which track they'd just lifted from. To be honest I don't think the band had quite done their homework and the number of bum notes, both played and sung, meant a dodgy start where songs of the undoubted calibre of 'Chasing The Dream' and 'Give Me Back My Heart' were carried along purely by enthusiastic audience. Similarly the eagerly awaited 'Truth Slips' featured guitarist Helena Alsterhed on the female vocal part, although to be fair there were more mistakes on that track than just her off-key voice. Thankfully things started to improve and the band visibly grew in confidence through some of their best tracks, with Hank proving to be a very decent singer and frontman during 'Under Your Skin', 'Hold On', '1000 Songs' and the set closer 'Pride'. The sole encore of the night was a surprising cover of The Outfield's 'Your Love', which the band made a good job of to make an enjoyable last half of the set, but in my book the band have a lot of work to do to prove that they're a good live band and not just a studio project.

Phil Ashcroft


Share this on the web.

User reviews

There are no user reviews for this listing.


Comments (0)add comment

Write comment

security image
Write the displayed characters


Member Login


<<  December 2019  >>
 Mo  Tu  We  Th  Fr  Sa  Su 
  2  3  4  5  6  7  8

Search Here

Shout Here

Latest Message: 1 week, 1 day ago
  • Berny : @zom414: Fireworks Magazine #89 will be available at selected UK based newsagents on December 16th. The digital version can already be purchased in our Download Store.
  • zom414 : When's the next mag due for release?
  • Berny : @el nowy: Apologies for the delay in processing your order. Pls. check your mail!
  • el nowy : Hi, how long does it take for my download license to be available? I purchased it 3 days ago. Thanks!
  • Rocktopia Te : @l.thijs: Apologies for the delay, your digital copy can now be downloaded from your "My Downloads" section.
  • l.thijs : Hi Fireworks Magazine. I made a purchase on 10 nov and I paid by Paypall. I bought the #85 fireworks mag download for GBP3,50. But I didn,t receive anything. Please can you find out what's going on?
  • kazooba : I have digital versions of every issue from 27 thru 88, any way I can get issues 1 - 26 with cd's digitally?
  • Berny : @SeaDog57: The links are in the Fireworks menu. Have you tried scrolling down? Maybe your screen size is too small...
  • SeaDog57 : Berny; there are only links up to Fireworks 86. Which is kinda strange because i already downloaded CD 87 but i'm looking for the link to CD 88...Chris
  • Rocktopia Te : @Johns Band: Can you please contact us here: «email»
  • Johns Band : Fireworks Magazine 88 did not arrive by post. paid by PayPal. Any Suggestion.
  • Berny : @bpomper: Can you pls. contact the Rocktopia team here: «email»
  • bpomper : i found the problem..old email i can not access.i have tried to change it by editing my info but it wont allow. any suggestions
  • Berny : @bpomper: A reply was sent yesterday, We recommend checking your spam/junk mail to see if our message was filtered there. The magazine was already sent to your shipping address. Please let me know if you do not receive it within the next couple of days. Thanks for your patience!
  • bpomper : Thanks didnt of that. I still have not heard about fireworks 88 was it sent out. Thankyou
  • Rocktopia Te : @bpomper: For security reasons, we removed your previous message. Please do not post your private e - mail address. Many thanks for your understanding.
  • bpomper : Thanks for the reply. I see download but can you confirm that hardcopy was or is sent ou .thanks.the email i used is inder the contact me info of the website
  • Berny : @bpomper: Apologies for your troubles. Where did you send the email to? We haven't received anything. I will send you a longer reply via mail. Also, you can download the free CD from the "Fireworks" menu on top, but the CD links are only shown if you are logged in.
  • bpomper : 3rd email inquiring about my purchase of fireworks #88. i purchased on the 2oth of sept and today is the 24 with no response...paypal has taken the payment. should i have a down load of the cd for mu usa magazine. Looking forward to an answer
  • bpomper : hello i purchased fireworks #88 through paypal on9/23 and have not recieved an email from rocktopia. purchase is for a hard copy of the mag. should i have cd download instructions.when should i expect it
  • Berny : @Johns Band: I've just sent you an e - mail. Best regards, B.
  • Johns Band : I have ordered FM Live video and £1.99 taken from my PayPal account. How do I download video. Something gone wrong at processing with Fireworks. The links to report it do not work.
  • Berny : @kevinw01: Have you received the mail containing the donwload instructions? It seems as if you are downloading the bonus CDs from the "Fireworks" menu, those are meant for our readers in the USA and Canada whose copies do not come with the CD. I will send you a mail now. Thanks, B.
  • kevinw01 : I have ordered several issues of Fireworks but when I press the download button I only get a copy of the MP3 but not the PDF files. I have an iPad. Am I doing something wrong? Kevin
  • Berny : @ARONITY: Thanks for your order. As stated in the item's description, it can take up to three hours for your purchase to be processed. You should have received a mail containing the download instructions by now. Thanks for your patience!
  • ARONTY : Hi, Just ordered #88 pdf, Paypal show the payment, but no d/l link, please help..
  • Berny : @John: Pls. check your mail, this should have been sorted by now. Apologies for the delay!
  • johnmason : Hi. I paid for #88 and it doesn't show up in the licenses/Downloads and I never received any email telling me how to download it.
  • Rocktopia Te : Fireworks Magazine #88 is out now!
  • SeaDog57 : Thanks Berny got it

Only registered users are allowed to post

Follow Us


This website uses cookies to help us give you the best experience when you visit. Cookies used for the essential operation of the site have already been set. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, see our Privacy Statement.

I accept cookies from this site