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Wednesday 27 March 2019

A View From The Back Of The Room: The Rock N Roll Circus Mencap Charity Fundraiser (Paul H)

The Rock And Roll Circus Mencap Charity Fundraiser, The Doll’s House, Abertillery

A journey to the Ebbw Fach valley on a warm spring day is not something I do that often, but this was an event we’d had in the diary for some time. A couple of local bands supporting a few bigger names who had travelled some distance to play this charity fundraiser for the worthy Mencap cause. Full marks to the Rock and Roll Circus team for putting this event together and massive applause to every band who made the event a success. It seems a bit mean to cast a critical eye and ear over each band but that’s what we do so here goes.

Opening the evening was The Philo Beddoe Band (7), from Merthyr Tydfil. The five-piece play a highly entertaining style of Southern Welsh rock which was perfect to start the evening. Despite having the first on the bill slot, the band played as if they were headlining, their confidence and quality soon drawing a larger crowd as people slowly arrived for the event. I’d not seen the band before, but any group who are named after a character in Any Which Way But Loose is alright with me (although ‘Right Turn Clyde’ is an even better name for a band in my opinion). I’d happily see the Merthyr lads again.

Next up, Who Knows Didley (7), another South Walian outfit whose image suggested they were intent on destroying the venue with some meaty hardcore but who sounded more like Ratt!! The four-piece were up for it from the start, new bassist Glyn Mason fitting in comfortably. The band have a solid, conventional sound but their music was well performed and by now the party was in full swing. Tracks from their debut album Mindless Suburbia worked well and in vocalist Pete Matthews, the band have a bit of a gem. His vocal style is straight up rock, but his energy and enthusiasm enhance the show as he forayed into the crowd and slowly ripped apart his vest. Things were warming up well.

Soon got even hotter as Cardiff’s finest Fallen Temples (9) hit the stage. The powerhouse trio had wowed a recent heat of Metal To The Masses In Cardiff with their no-nonsense hard rock, and once again the band proved that there is no substitute for class with a fantastic 40 minutes which got the crowd moving and prompted hearty applause. Tracks from The Future We Left Behind EP mixed with newer material, Euphoria and Phoenix sounding brilliant, the latter having only debuted in recent weeks although you’d never have guessed it from the cohesive delivery. Closing with the anthemic Cut The Wire, Fallen Temples once again proved a quality act. It was later revealed that guitarist/vocalist Adam Vaughan played the gig with a broken ankle sustained skiing. What a hero!

West Midlands Left For Red (7) were faced with a real challenge following Fallen Temples fiery set. The five-piece had made a real effort to get to the event, never easy negotiating the motorway network from the UK’s second City to South Wales but the band gave a good account of themselves with tracks from their forthcoming Human Complex album segueing with 2015’s All Things Known And Buried. The band’s complex sound may have confused a few of the watching crowd, the switches in style between stoner, straightforward thrash metal and more progressive elements probably a little bit of a challenge for those unfamiliar with their sound. Opening with Switchblade Romance from Human Complex, Left For Red pushed hard and by the time they had wrapped up their set no doubt a few new fans had been secured.

Little sign of the pace slowing as the evening progressed and with Black Tree Vultures (6) up next the classic rock style continued. The Bournemouth band had oodles of energy and what their rather routine rock lacked in originality they were able to make up with a passionate performance. Vocalist Celyn Beynon was a bundle of energy, hopping on and off the stage as the set progressed. With influences including the excellent King Creature it was no surprise that they followed the hard rock blueprint to the letter. My enthusiasm waned a little as their set progressed, but the crowd seemed pleased and they received a good ovation at the end.

Penultimate band was White Raven Down (5) who I must be honest were probably the most underwhelming band of the entire event. With an arrogance that at times verged on insulting, the Southend based outfit were unimpressive, their songs routine and average. A big entourage which had made a huge effort to deliver a professional approach (their merch section dominated the back of the room) was impressive, unlike vocalist Bill Taylor whose long cardigan and beanie cap was probably the fashion faux-par of the day. His constant heckling of the crowd for being too quiet was okay to a point, but his frustration at not gaining the reaction he wanted wasn’t welcomed and many in the room were talking to each other. Not my favourite of the day, but kudos to the band for making the long trip and I wish them well.

I suppose headlining a charity event isn’t necessarily a big deal but Nottinghamshire face-melters Witch Tripper (8) take their metal seriously. One of the hardest gigging bands on the circuit, the band were on fire from the start, ripping through tracks from their 2018 I, Of The Storm album along with several favourites from their fine debut release. Witch Tripper are a band I’d want playing at my funeral, their dogged groove infected hard rock solid and pleasing. Frontman Richie Barlow never stops moving, his snarling vocals and riffing guitar captivating, whilst bassist Christ ‘Stoff’ Daughton is a ball of fury. Drummer Gary Eric Evans hold the chaos superbly. A huge ovation was well deserved, and the band will be back in South Wales playing Chepstow in the summer. A well-attended event, a deserving cause and a good amount of funds raised, this was an enjoyable event with full credit to all the bands, the volunteers and of course, The Rock And Roll Circus Events who organised a very fluid evening.

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