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Monday, 29 February 2016

A View From The Back Of The Room: Devilskin

Devilskin & Skarlett Riot, The Iron Road Evesham

A road trip is always something I welcome on a Saturday especially for gigs, so it was great anticipation and my oldest friend that we packed the car and headed to Evesham in Worcestershire. After some traffic shenanigans we finally arrived at The Iron Road and made our way inside. Now I've never been to The Iron Road before but what a venue it is, a compact pub with a large, well stocked bar and huge burgers named after various rock and roll icons. Ordering a pint of the house ale and a delicious Lemmy burger (covered in JD you see?) we watched England beat Ireland in the rugby, with us cheering for Ireland naturally while the bands got set up on the stage in the corner of the room. So yes the bands that was the reason we were here most notably for the debut UK headline tour of New Zealand outfit Devilskin, having been suitably impressed by their album last year I was excited to see whether the talent shown on the record would translate to the live arena.

First up however were Scunthorpe mob Skarlett Riot who play spiky, melodic heavy rock with a modern edge and lashings of attitude and confidence, led by the bottle rocket of Skarlett on vocals the band blasted away with a set list of 8 songs that started with Divide Us and moved through the ballsy Wake Up, the heavy Adrenaline and the darker Villains that has huge sing along hook. Skarlett has a superb vocal that was a higher octave than that of the headline band, her vocal was very powerful and was a perfect fit for the bands modern hook-laden sound reminding your writer of Paramore's Haley Williams but set to a heavier backing, which is a very good thing indeed. The backing band were also full of sparks with manic drummer Luke smashing along with aplomb, bassist Martin couldn't keep still as he plucked out rhythms galore leaving Danny to stab at his guitar and deliver a killer solo on House Of Cards. With melodic, hook-laden songs, big riffs and a keen ear of melody Skarlett Riot whet the appetite perfectly, a band well worth checking out live! 8/10

Next then it was time for Devilskin, we were lucky to see the band really as their Barrowlands performance had been cancelled due to frontwoman Jennie's flu, but they managed to reach Evesham by way of The Underworld Camden and as the cosy venue became packed full of people and the band made their way to the stage, the young Nic on the drums, the demonic twins of (see the videos of Little Pills and Start A Revolution) Paul on bass and Nail on guitar before the lovely Jennie hit the stage and the band kicked into the excellently named Elvis Presley Circle Pit and then the chunky Vessel which showed Jennie's superb vocals they are strong and resonant, showing no sign of the flu at all, especially on the aggressive, BLS-like Until You Bleed where she was giving guttural roars from the bowels of hell. In fact Devilskin have a distinctly modern sound merging the pinch harmonics of Zakk and co with some more groove based acts like Pantera and even a bit of Disturbed thrown in mainly due to Paul's bass heavy sound and Nail's technical but not always overt guitar wizardry which has much in common with the latter's Dan Donegan. The band were visual with Nail and Paul frequently switching places and moving around the small stage, heads were banging on the strong and emotive Surrender which has great solo too. Then the band did something that was a bit of risk by dropping a cover of Dio's Holy Diver that if I'm honest was far better than Killswitch Engage's retaining the magic of the original but adding the bands heaviness, smiles all round and back into their own stuff with Fade which errs on the side of Alter Bridge or Creed but has a huge chorus that you can't help sing along to. The band were working through their set at a rate of knots, the bass driven Never See The Light coming next giving more chances to headbang with its fast-slow dynamic and dirty slide riff. When the band did stop they were very appreciative of the crowd coming out to see them and seemed to be having a lot of fun on this tour, the crowd were receptive of this and became more so with the double header of latest single Start A Revolution and previous single Mountains which built the crowd up again. Devilskin are really masters of their craft having toiled for so long on the New Zealand scene it was great to see so many out supporting them in Evesham, more call-and-response on Dirt before the main set ended with new song We Rise which bodes well for their second album. A bit of a break a few thank you's, no chance to get off stage due to the sheer volume of people in the venue so it was back into the encore of the groove-laden Little Pills and the snarling Violation. An excellent set and tremendous performance showing that Devilskin are on that upward trajectory towards bigger things. 9/10

That was that with more well wishing and a chance to cool down and have a drink the band seemed happy and the punters too cheered for a good long while after the set before everyone got talking at the back of the venue. This night was one of those gigs where the planets align, two great performances, two amiable and humble bands, a superb rock venue and a welcoming responsive crowd supporting live music. If only all gigs were like this I'd be a happy bunny!            

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