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Tuesday, 22 March 2016

A View From The Back Of The Room: Toseland (Live Review By Paul)

Toseland – The Globe

A Monday night is rarely going to get the pulses racing for a gig. However, there were decent numbers at one of my favourite Cardiff venues, The Globe, for the arrival of British Motorbike legend James Toseland and his band in what was their first ever Welsh headlining show.

First up were Brighton based classic rock outfit Colour of Noise (8). Entering to the mighty Clutch’s Firebird (earning them a bonus point for taste), after a slightly shaky start the band quickly got into their stride and with the help of some devout fans in the front row soon had the audience clapping and singing along. Led by Matt Mitchell (Furyon) whose experience and energy was infectious, Colour Of Noise were a curiously assembled bunch who made a superb sound. Guitarist Bruce John Dickinson has lots of road experience with Little Angels and demonstrated the best fretwork of the evening with some high quality playing. At the back of the stage the experienced Randy Nixon on drums laid down the beat with impressive “Silent” Ben Daniel on bass and snazzy stage outfit. Meanwhile rhythm guitarist Dan Electro won best shirt and also most impressive Tyrion Lannister look-a-like award as he chopped the riffs. The band played a decent length set which improved as the evening moved on. Tracks from their pledge backed self-titled debut came thick and fast with Hit Rock Bottom possibly the stand-out track of the evening in terms of audience participation. If you like your music played in the classic rock vein, with Thunder, The Answer etc. your bag, then check Colour Of Noise out. For me they stole the show. Oh, and they were spotted dining the Tandoori Mahal as I left the venue at the end of the night. That makes them legends. (Too bloody right - Ed)

I was fully aware of Toseland (7) before I attended this gig but had little knowledge of their music. Championed by Planet Rock, I knew that lead singer James Toseland was a motorcycling champion but that was about it. I also knew that they’d put the hours in with regular gigging. Coming days after the release of their third album, Cradle The Rage, this was the second night of their tour but the band were not at all rusty. If anything, they were a little too polished. With little ceremony, Toseland hit the stage and immediately you could see that James Toseland has the shapes and moves to be a natural frontman. Fitter than a butcher’s dog, he has what can only be described as ‘pretty boy’ looks but he was also a fantastic frontman; warm and honest and in particular very appreciative of the hardy souls who had by now filled the venue to a very decent number.

Kicking off with Too Close To Call from the new release, the band demonstrated boundless energy, with the audience soon jumping and getting fully involved. Toseland are a decent bunch of musicians with drummer Joe Yoshida going full pelt which was really noticeable at such close quarters. Once again The Globe’s sound was first class although damn loud. Flanking James was Georgian Zurab Mehua on guitar, calm and understated but occasionally rocking out. Meanwhile stage left there was little reserved about the attitude of bassist Roger Davis and guitarist Ed Bramford (complete with token LOG T-shirt) who didn’t stop moving, fist pumping or urging more from the crowd. In fact, a little too hard on the shape throwing which at times felt a little contrived.

Anyway, what about Toseland’s sound? Well, it’s pretty generic hard rock with the immediate and unavoidable vocal comparison of James Toseland with Alter Bridge’s Myles Kennedy. In fact, if you closed your eyes it was almost uncannily like him. Toseland’s songs are radio friendly rock with a driving stomp. Living In A Moment, Puppet On A Chain and Heart And Bones are all out and out rockers, ideal for the Planet Rock listeners which is what the audience appeared to be comprised (and I suppose that includes me!). Clean vocals, big riffs, brash trashy drums and pumping bass lines. You get the picture. And to some extent that was the problem. The generic nature meant that the tunes began to blend slightly until the keyboard was brought front and centre as the pace slowed a little with Fingers Burned and Never Love Another from the new release. I’m not a big fan of the rock ballad but Fingers Burned at least allowed for a bit of prime guitar work. Interspersed with the new stuff were a number of tracks from the first album, Renegade which went down well with the die hards.

Things really went up a gear though during the final couple of tracks of the encore. Firstly, the title track of the new album, a real rocker which segued into the track of the evening for me, an extended and very powerful Renegade which had the audience roaring their approval. I have to say that for the admission price of £8.80, you really got full value for money from two bands who appear to wear their hearts on their sleeves. I’m looking forward to giving Toseland another view at Steelhouse in July and I’ll be watching for another opportunity to catch Colour Of Noise in the near future. Excellent stuff.

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