Live at The Highwood on Friday, 12th January 2001
As much as people complain about gigs being continuously empty the Highwood continues to buck that trend totally. It's not a question of if people are gonna come, but of how packed the place is going to be. The answer to that question tonight is VERY.
And so we start off with a new band, STONECHILD, playing their second gig ever. A blaring disco beat and fuzzy psychodelia open tonight's show, in a development of the cheesy keyboard demo that opened their last gig. The band quickly kick into their blues/rock/funk matrix with front man Duncan singing like a man possessed. The band lacked the tightness of the other two bands tonight but, it was a hugely enjoyable show. Highlights including self penned songs such as 'Chances Fade' and 'You Are Not My Hero'. They finish by blowing the cobwebs off with a funked up version of Voodoo Chile and leave the stage triumphant.
Next up are DIONYSUS, who despite the fact that they are missing their rhythm guitarist play another rocking, if slightly predictable set. Not quite enough to keep the crowd interested, the band tonight play some very old songs not played in ages and mix them with some very new stuff. The band have written some great songs such as 'Mirage' but a lot of their best songs are missing from tonight's set. Not a hugely strong set and it seems like they are suffering from gigging fatigue but the band leave with promise. Maybe I'm being a bit overcritical, actually I know I am. This is the 16th time I've seen them live in the last two years. Go to see them. They rock.
Tonight's final, and best set comes from RIOT STAR. The last time I'd seen them I hadn't been hugely impressed, but tonight they sounded like a different band. The music was urgent, quite panicky like the perfect middle ground between punk rock and grunge. The singer's voice has improved dramatically since I last heard them and he didn't sing a note wrong, but that's largely irrelevant because his voice has become far more impassioned and it felt like a part of the music. The highlights of the set were undoubtedly the newest numbers, particularly the penultimate song that should have really been the closer. Crowd reaction? Oh my! I suppose it was partly because everyone was unashamedly pissed, but they certainly had at least half of the crowd in the palms of their hands tonight and as they stormed home for the closer they left the stage as heroes of the night. A great band.