|Enuff Z'Nuff/Blue Origin/The Peckham Cowboys/Hangfire - Crumlin, The Patriot - 1st December 2013|
|Written by Rob Watkins with Gaz E|
|Wednesday, 11 December 2013 03:00|
Talk about the North/South divide: Enuff Z'Nuff, now fronted (once again) by the great Johnny Monaco, arrived in Crumlin, South Wales, after a lauded and incredibly well-attended appearance at the Hard Rock Hell festival in North Wales to find that the sum total of band members on the bill, sadly, outnumbered the paying punters.
Shame on the local 'supporters' of live music for staying away in their droves. Gigs clashing and the time of year excuses get thrown out by those very same people who, after complaining for decades that nothing ever happens in these places, can't be bothered to drag themselves away from their reality television to catch up with a celebrated US rock band who NEVER disappoint, no matter what demons certain (former) band members seem forever at odds with.
Still, those of us loyal and clued-in enuff to attend were determined to have a good time in the company of some good people, to a backdrop of fine tunesmithery; we did not leave displeased.
Hangfire did their best to warm up the audience and tumbleweed, even if the local outfit's merry band of loyal followers decided to not bother following. Opener 'Hell This Time' shows that the wait for the band's Leppard-esque recording of their sophomore album to be completed will be worth doing the time for, the guys emitting a laidback, relaxed vibe befitting of the circumstances. Matt Blakout threw sticks in front of the stage lights in the hope that the shadows cast would make the venue look fuller but, alas, it was to no avail.
The Peckham Cowboys, with their own second album, '10 Tales From The Gin Palace', set to be released on Valentine's Day, threatened to give us glunk rockers in attendance plenty to fall in love with, simply by having the likes of Timo Kaltio and Nigel Mogg in the band's line-up. The distortion that coated the band's debut album, 2011's 'Flog It!', has been washed away somewhat, but with cheap booze rather than soapy water. The sound now is more Faces-esque and cool '70s rock 'n' roll inspired, pretty much how you'd imagine it given the talent on show. Singer Marc Eden could well have been fronting Velvet Revolver rather than spending his Sunday night in a Valleys biker pub, but, in Crumlin rather than California he finds himself, his star quality shining through the faint whiff of despair in the stale air. The band's album release and tie-in headline tour can't come soon enough...though I'd advise Mogg to pack a spare bass; the former Quireboy forced to play most of the set with another band's shiny red five string uber-metal bass after breaking a string in the second song. Massively entertaining and worth the admission price alone. Band, not bass faux pas, though that was entertainment in itself.
Blue Origin are a young Midlands-based bunch of hard rockers with the main support slot on the EZN UK tour. They're a bit of a Breakfast Club image-wise, people from different walks of life thrown together to spend time in one room; there's the pretty boy, the metal boy, the drummer who looks like he fell from a Scandinavian garage band's mini-van...but, as a collective, they're as slick as expected of a band second from top of an impressive undercard. I wouldn't like to try and follow band members famous for their work with the likes of The Quireboys, Cheap and Nasty, Primal Scream, etc, but these kids give it their best shot. They lack a real hurting bomb of a tune in their arsenal, but they're a spirited lot and I'm sure a slew of late night lessons in rock 'n' roll from Chip Z'Nuff will stand them in good stead for their future.
As they finished it was time for me to stand aside and hand reviewing duties over to a man who actually owns a used item of Mr. Z'Nuff clothing. It seemed only right..... (GE)
As Enuff Z'Nuff hit the stage with, for me, the perfect opener in 'Heaven Or Hell' there's an obvious happiness within the ranks judging by the stage presence here tonight, and the classics keep on flowing; 'Hollywood Ya', "Ya Ya Ya", to the more uptempo moments from the group's beautiful back catalogue which include 'One Step Closer To You' and the pop-tastic brilliance and groove of 'There Goes My Heart'.
Chip Z'Nuff shows his influential side as he slips in an infamous Cheap trick bassline to introduce 'We're All Alright', but with, of course, that aforementioned back catalogue the guys can dip deep and pull out some unbelieveable moments of heartfelt beauty, and this is truly evident on 'Fingertips', another wonderous inclusion from the Z'Nuff musical songbook.
'Love Train' stemas into some jamming to set up yet another tune from the highest echelons of songwriting perfection, 'Baby Loves You', which incorporates a medley of such hits as '500 Miles', 'Don't Stop Believin', 'Wrecking Ball', 'Summer Of 69', 'Surrender', and Lita Ford's 'Kiss Me Deadly' to name but a few, also, it should be uttered, giving Johnny Monaco his moment to shine...and shine that man does, not only as a frontman but as a guitar player too.
The obligatory (well almost) Beatles (family) cover is offered up in the form of the Wings tune of tunes, 'Jet', and what a rendition too, perfectly executed and delivered with some ultra fine backing vocals to accompany Johnny Monaco's lead.
And let's not forget Tory Stoffregen and Randi Scott who are as much about Enuff as anybody else involved or associated with the group throughout the history of Z'Nuff for keeping the EZN flag flying high.
Monaco takes centre stage for a solo piece in which he knocks out Van Halen's 'Eruption' before running into 'Fly High Michelle', a song as dreamy today as it was all those yesterdays ago, ending things on a high with "What Else" but 'New Thing'.
Effort. Dedication. Belief. Musical brilliance and intelligence... The list could go on and on and on and on...
But, for me... Genius. (RW)