It is always a pleasure to watch bands in their home town and in front of family and friends. You just can’t beat the atmosphere and tonight is no exception. Liberty Lies are launching their new album at the Splinter Studios venue in Wednesbury and the place is packed with eager and devoted fans.
DAVID YOUNG & THE MIDNIGHT CHORUS get us underway, another local guy, David is well known in the area for his creative song writing and commercial sound. He has toured with some names and played alongside Roy Wood, UB40 and Gaz Brookfield. His set comprises of tracks from his Wasted Days album and ‘Guilty Party’ a cool little rocker is first. With numbers like ‘Over and out’ and ‘Sweetheart’ it is easy to see the attraction, soulful and easy on the ear, almost modern folk, he can certainly write adhering material. I like ‘Lament’ which is a faster tune and ‘Borrowed Time’, before he ends on a punk note with a cover of the Ramones’ ‘Blitzkrieg Bop’.
MALLEN are also from the West Midlands. The 5 piece first got together in 2014 and have appeared with ‘Toseland’, ’30 Seconds to Mars’ and ‘Motley Crue’ no less. In 2018 they brought out ‘Polarity’ and most of tonights numbers are from that debut album. The title track is the opener and if you think vocalist Kelly Jane is just a pretty, shrinking violet, then think again. Backed by the most solid and tight band I have seen for a while, she launches into the lyrics, taking no prisoners along the way. ‘My Blackened Heart’ has amazing drumming to begin with, it’s a fast and racy song, the crowd are well into Mallen after just a few minutes. ‘Falling’ and ‘The Otherside’ are striking, such heavy chords and they are really awesome to watch. ‘Pull The Trigger’ must be a highlight, the riffs from Dann Pritchard and Rhys Broomhall pulsate and it has an excellent catch. Mustn’t forget bassist Joe Horton either, who completes this bands amazing ability to be hard and heavy yet still maintain melody. There are a few bands around at the moment with brilliant female vocalists and perhaps Mallen are not spoken of in the same breath as Beth Blade or Tomorrow Is Lost, but they should be. Definitely recommend going to watch them.
Now it’s time for the band of the moment LIBERTY LIES, they were a bit nervous when I spoke to them earlier, ( Listen to the Interview below ) as they haven’t played most of tonights songs, live before. But as the lights go up and the screen at the back of the stage, flickers into action to introduce the band, they emerge with all the confidence expected from them. Straight into ‘United Nothing’ an absolute blinder of a song, one of those you can play on a loop all day. Well, it is the album launch, so all 12 tracks from ‘It’s The Hope That Kills You’ are played in succession. ‘Four Walls’ and ‘Mouth Breathers’ are a chance for Shaun Richards to stun us with his powerful voice. The audience are rammed down the front, the ages range from about 6 to 75 and the band can’t help but smile at the many familiar faces. Any nerves are now forgotten, as they carry on with the beautiful ballad ‘Letters’ played with acoustic guitar to give it that extra warmth.
The video for ‘A Thousand People’ was made up of footage from the Steelhouse Festival, where Liberty Lies played to one of their biggest audiences to date, it’s a strong track and has the simplest of hooks that grips you. I am reminded of the ‘Doors’ with These Dark Days’ it’s the keyboards from Miles Bagshaw that gives it that laid back vibe. Back into a more grungy style on ‘Are You Listening’ with Josh Pritchett’s strumming, giving Shaun a solid layer to blast out more perfect vocals, his range is outstanding. ‘Align’ again with added keys, is another quiet reflection that ends the main set.
After more delightful and comical messages on the back screen, they return to play a few older numbers. ‘Day In the Sun’ and ‘The Wire’ with more fascinating guitar from Josh and rock steady drums courtesy of the lovable Adam Stevens. A couple from 2013 off ‘Reflections’ and they end on ‘Undivided’. But tonight it is all about the new release and what a stunner it is. They played it in full and they performed magnificently, at ease and with all the grace and professionalism I have come to enjoy from watching these guys. I do believe they are on the up and 2020 is going to be their year without a doubt.
Photo Credit – Lisa Billingham of Billibee Creative