Tonight was not just a return to being at a gig with a bunch of mates. It marked the beginning, for a lot of us anyway, as the return to some kind of normality. Yes, we were sat down and masked, but we saw friends, chatted, caught up and watched live music. When the Dementia Aware Festival in Birmingham was cancelled, due to the ongoing restrictions, it looked like it was going to be another Saturday night in front of the telly. But the Gin Annie guys were having none of that and quickly arranged this alternative show at the Station in Cannock, bringing in the Essex band, White Raven Down as support. Full credit to them and much appreciated by everyone involved, needless to say the event sold out in a matter of hours.
Since their first single ’Take Me’ in 2018 the four guys of White Raven Down have gained a load of media attention and are now beginning to appear regularly on festival lineups, they are also the special guests for Gin Annie on the up coming tour starting at the end of September. You are immediately taken with the strength of this band, the power in the vocals of Will Taylor is backed up by the force of Tomáš Mrázek from the drum stool, the fervent guitar of Stu Bailey and faultless bass playing of Luke Chappell. Altogether they make their own style of heavy and unrelenting rock and it’s something to relish. They embark tonight with ‘Mind Reader’ and the audience is all too ready for some serious ear bashing. Many from the Conspiracy album of 2018 make up the set, ‘Broken Door’ and the encapsulating ‘Not Alone’ with its grungy, hardcore riffs. ‘Silence’ sees Will deliver more extreme vocals and there’s a few bars of Sabbaths Iron Man to give it added pleasure. ‘Take Me’ with it’s mind destroying guitar intro from Stu, is a fan favourite and even seated you can see the Station is buzzing with enjoyment. ‘All Day Long’ and then the almighty ‘Salvation’ brings matters to a finale. Despite being at tables and socially distanced, WRD managed to create an electric atmosphere and if this is anything to go by, they will be adding many more to their fan base ‘The Conspiracy’ ( Group of Ravens ) during the rest of this year. See the bands social pages below for more dates and info.
Before we continue organisers Brett Hall and Doddy White take to the stage to bring us up to date on events and to thank everyone, then there’s a framed picture of Gin Annie up for grabs by auction. Doddy from Rockers Through The Ages has the ‘Dementia Aware’ bucket for donations and folk don’t hesitate in giving freely. This is the kind of camaraderie and solidarity you get with this bunch.
I wish I could show you the Gin Annie set list I managed to photo from the sound desk, with its alternative titles and funny remarks. Actually vocalist David Foster did read out a few of the titles they had come up with. That sort of summarised the warmth and relaxed environment we found ourselves in tonight. Gin Annie got up in front of their most adoring supporters, ( Gin Annie fans & friends) and even with new boy on drums Lewis ‘The Kid’ Turner, they were at ease, comfortable and fully primed. Three new songs were interlaced between those from the 100% Proof album and ‘Love Ain’t Here’ was first up. If you haven’t seen these guys yet, (A) where have you been ! and (B) sort that asap, as they are one of the finest bands to emerge in recent years. As ‘Dead & Gone’, ‘Chains’ and ‘New Bad Habit’ are rolled out, you can see how they have now fully matured and grown in stature. The whole band performance is so well co-ordinated these days, the banter and interaction with each other and the punters just flies and even tho some of it is well rehearsed, the effect is a memorable one. ‘Save Me’ is a more recent composition and fits in tight before ‘Next To Me’. While bassist Phill Burrows remains cool behind his shades, Byron Garbett takes a stroll around the room and fellow guitarist Brian Green handles his solos with such ease, ‘Damage’ and the singalong ‘Fallin’ see us all clapping as instructed and there’s a bit of a challenge between the two sides of the room as to who’s the loudest, old style, but never fails.
More from the album ‘All I Want’ and the enrapturing ‘Haunt Me’ precede ‘Dyin To Live Again’ and ‘Devil In Me’ which are the other two newbies, although most of us know them really well already. A finish as usual with ‘Born To Rock n’ Roll’ gets us all partying and this incredible evenings performance draws to a close. Top marks for an outstanding show and if you can get a middle aged woman down to her bra and dancing at the barrier, then you must be doing something right !
The Next Chapter UK Tour kicks off in September –
Photo Credit – Lisa Billingham of Billibee Creative
Thanks to Brett Hall for the invitation
Please support the Dementia Aware Festival wherever possible and join
Rockers Through The Ages who offer friendship, support charities and give much more than they take.