Bigfoot/Everyday Heroes/Joe Kelly/Black Water Chemistry – Abertillery, The Dolls House – 25 March 2017 Print E-mail
Written by David O'Neill   
Saturday, 01 April 2017 04:00

The Dolls House in Abertillery never fails to put on a good show. Every time I’ve been there all the bands playing are talented musicians of varying ages and genres and tonight was no exception to this. This was a pre-show for VikingFest V in the EVI in Ebbw Vale with some of the bands playing at that gig performing tonight. I have to say though, no matter the genre of music, the crowd are always full on and enthusiastically support all the bands. The beer is also good (which always helps).


Bigfoot Dolls House 2


The long wide open room helps with the acoustics and the PA is more than adequate for the venue and is usually manned by Nicky Hughes, who is the unsung hero as far as I’m concerned, because the sound is always mixed perfectly for both the audience and the bands, who have never complained about the sound.


Now onto tonights’ event. Unfortunately, I missed the first set (‘The Bastard’ Joe Kelly - his words not mine, but more on that later) and half of the second set as it was a very early start (6pm).


Black Water Chemistry - Dolls House 2


I’ve seen Black Water Chemistry once before and was very impressed by their sound. They are a five-piece band from Newport with the obligatory five-string bass been hammered by Gizz, who also backs up the screaming vocals admirably. Both guitarists (Chris and Murph) take turns to play lead and pounding rhythm. All this is ably supported by Dan on drums who unerringly beats the crap out of the kit. They describe themselves as metalcore and are influenced by Architects, Killswitch Engage, August Burns Red and Meshuggah - so if that’s your thing get in on the act as they are about to start a UK tour. Despite missing most of the set I caught the bulk of ‘The Beacon’, where Matt let rip with the vocals sounding like he’d been gargling rusty nails backed up by Gizz, Chris and Murph on screamo vocals.


Despite the screaming vocals Matt has a very good voice when he sings without the hellish roar that is part of metalcore’s raison d’être. ‘Frailty’ is a metalcore protest song written to complain about the monopolisation of Newports’ music scene by one individual (who shall remain nameless but owns most of the live music venues). There was a bit of a left field moment when the next song, ‘Blackest Chemistry’, turned out to be a southern blues rock fest. Then back to style with the final full on track, ‘Masterstroke’. Matt got so energised during this that he knocked over Gizz’s mic stand. The last time they did this he stood on Dans kick drum and jumped off! No such antics tonight as the ceiling in the Dolls is too low.


Black Water Chemistry - Dolls House 1


The crowd really enjoyed the show, so get in on the Black Water Chemistry tour coming soon to a venue near you.


At this point Pilgrim were supposed to play but something went wrong with the travel arrangements and the vocalist nor singer had arrived so they pulled the set which was taken over by ‘The Bastard’ Joe Kelly - his first words.


Joe Kelly - Dolls House 1


Joe performed an acoustic set playing guitar and harmonica which was very easy to listen to after the metalcore of BWC. He is also a member of The Johnstown Flood a hard rocking three piece. He obviously performs regularly as his banter was very good. His guitar and harmonica playing was excellent but his vocal range is superb. All his songs were a bit Dylanesque (maybe as a result of playing acoustic guitar and harmonica) but they were very well written with good lyrics and clean, technically excellent guitar playing. Every one of his second set went down well with the crowd, especially ‘Living Is A Long Slow Death’ (about a bad experience) and ‘Home’.


At this point everyone was winding up for one of the regular performers at “the Dolls”, Newbridge boys Everyday Heroes. This four piece opened the Friday of Steelhouse last year and blew everyone away with their Black Stone Cherry style southern rock. So much so that their T shirts were worn by many of the crowd after the event. Luke Phillips is a larger than life singer/lead guitarist whose vocals just get stronger every time I see them (which has been a few since last July!). Musically they are as tight as a rusty wheelnut on ’64 Ford Cortina.


Everyday Heroes - Dolls House 3


Bass is bounced around by baby faced Lewis Watkins who must get asked for ID regularly at gigs. Luke is well backed on rhythm/lead guitar by Daniel Richards who also provides backing vocals for Luke. Jay Haynes is one of the most animated drummers I’ve seen for a while and also does backing vocals. Tonight he added harmonica on a new track.


The set kicked off with a track called ‘She’s Giving Me The Blues’ which is filled with tight and fast guitar riffs and solid bass and drums. They run through a blues-based tribute to the ‘30s American black guitarist Robert Johnson (‘Ballad of Robert Johnson’) and quickly flip into a rockier track, ‘Take Me Home’ (about a guy trying to pick someone up in a night club) and into one of their many tracks written about girls (‘Honey’) and ‘A Little Bit Of You’. A new track off their upcoming second EP is the next offering (‘Find My Way’) followed by a much slower bluesier track called ‘The River’.


Everyday Heroes - Dolls House 1


Another new one in ‘Storm’ is next before closing their set with the crowd pleaser ‘Hey Delilah’ (not the Tom Jones one), when the crowd joins in with the hook. These lads just need to be in the right place with the right person. Luke recently won a competition to get his hero, Chris Robertson of Black Stone Cherry to play his signature PRS on the recent tour where he got a meet and greet with Chris and the band. Who knows what can happen but the South Wales rock scene is all the better for EDH.


EDH April 2017 tour header


Finally on the stage are the Wigan based hard rockers Bigfoot. These are another band that graced the Steelhouse stage last summer. The lead singer Anthony Ellis is a real force of nature. He is the frontman every rock band dreams of having in their line-up. His energy on stage is amazing and his vocals remind me of a cross between David Lee Roth, Bon Scott, Axl Rose and Jon Bon Jovi but with a Yorkshire twang.


Bigfoot Dolls House 1


The opening track, ‘Stone Soldiers’ has a southern rock feel to it and Sam Miller (lead guitar) Mic Mcullagh (guitar) and Matthew Avery provide excellent harmonic backing vocals. ‘In The Gutter’ has a driving bass and guitar rhythm going on with Tom Aspinall managing to play the drums despite recently breaking his wrist. The band have recently had a run of bad luck, along with Dan’s broken wrist, their van had its exhaust system stolen. They must have a loyal fanbase, because they crowd funded the repairs to keep them on tour. Then their Facebook page got hacked. Shit happens in threes!


The third track, ‘Run’, shows Anthony at his best as this is when he gets most animated when the guitar solo takes off. The vocals are very well harmonised during this track. After this they slowed things down with an acoustically led guitar track (played by Anthony) called ‘Come Down My Way’. ‘Bitch Killer’ starts with distorted guitar riffs before Anthony comes in with his clear Axl Rose style of vocals, again superbly harmonised by the backing vocals. ‘Forever Alone’ is a slower song with Mic providing the opening clean lead before Sam joins in. ‘Freak Show’ quickly warms the audience up again and is rapidly followed by ‘Blame It On The Dog’ which has a funky beat to it. The last track of the night is ‘The Other Side Of Paradise’, a hard riffing hard rocking track that gets the audience going again.


Bigfoot - Dolls House 3


With the retirement and deaths of a number of musicians from long standing bands in the classic rock genre, there is a gap in the market that this band could easily fill.


PHOTO CREDIT: All photos © David O’Neill/Bandtogs.


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