Thursday 21st April, 2016
Review and Photography by Graham Hilling
First up this evening, and playing to a pretty small crowd to be honest, are Confessions of a Traitor from Essex.
These guys have a hardcore come metal sound with some pretty nice breakdowns. On stage, they don’t stop moving for a split second. The recorded material has more of tuneful edge to it which is blotted out by the raw live sound.
This doesn’t really do them too many favours though, all of the subtleties disappear into the wall of sound coming from the stage.
They play a short set which is well received though and certainly good enough to prompt a further listen in the comfort of my home. Shame I didn’t do this before the gig – I think if I had heard the songs before this evening I would have enjoyed their set a whole lot more.
Up next are Sumo Cyco, based in Toronto. They are an absolutely ideal support for Butcher Babies with a similar sound and a similar upbeat performance to give even the Babies a run for their money! They play punked up metal, rowdy, raucous and fun!
Lead singer Sever (aka Skye Sweetnam) spends as much time in the crowd as on the stage, at one point guitarist Matt ‘MD’ Drake gives her a piggy back around the venue while still playing. Their performance, like their music, is larger than life!
They play “Move Mountains” which appears on the next album with Benji from Skindred guesting. This has everyone in the venue bouncing up and down. Sadly, time pressing the set is a little too short and as soon as they have started, it is time to close up the set with “My Name is Rock ‘n’ Roll”.
Sever is back out in the crowd again. This is a band that pulls no punches. The sound in Sub89 is also spot on now and there’s much to be excited about Sumo Cyco and the forthcoming album – one to watch for sure!
So to the Butcher Babies. The last time I saw this band they absolutely blew me away with the strength of their songs and the energy of their performance. I had high hopes that this evening was going to be just as impressive and I wasn’t let down!
The dual vocals of Carla Harvey and Heidi Shepherd work perfectly, combine this with a ferocious sound, some razor sharp song writing and enough energy coming from the stage to power Reading for a year and you have something that is very special.
Carla and Heidi, prowl around the stage with Heidi in particular looking like a crazed maniac at times. Their contrasted vocals and stage presence defies the crowd not to become involved in the show.
“Jesus Needs More Babies for His War Machine” is introduced with a call to participate in the “climb of life” which is basically an open invite to get the crowd surfing into top gear. It does the trick too, the small but enthusiastic crowd dutifully gets its combined asses surfing to the stage!
“Monsters Ball” is up next and this just continues the mayhem! Everyone is bouncing to the infectious chorus and singing along with the call of “you can’t stop moving….”. “Dead Man Walking” continues in the same vein, another cracking sing-along chorus.
“Thrown Away” showcases the versatility of the band (although it does sound a little out of place with the other songs this evening). Most of the songs so far coming from the latest album “Take it like a Man”.
It’s a cracking album but eclipsed by the previous studio album “Goliath”, which is just that, an absolute giant.
“They’re coming to take me away” provides a few brief moments of respite and an opportunity for the band to take breath before the song gets going.
There is no changing down a gear though with the last few songs coming from Goliath – “Magnolia Blvd” being next on the setlist – another great chorus and the perfect combination of raw aggression and an irresistible hook line. “I Smell a Massacre” has everyone nodding and singing along again
Closing song “Axe Wound” leaves everyone wanting more and it’s time for the Butcher Babies to leave the stage. Bit of a shame that this wasn’t the best attended gig I have ever been to but but this wasn’t reflected in any of the performances – these bands all played their hearts out tonight.
If you get the chance to see Butcher Babies live, I would suggest you take it, they really are one of the best bands I’ve ever seen live (high praise and not bullshit), I’m not joking when I say they could power Reading for a year!