There were three bands on.
Unfortunately we missed the first act – Regus – but arrived while the second band, Barkerhound, were setting up.
Let’s be clear about something.
We were there to see The Razorbax. It wasn’t a ‘night out’, we weren’t interested in watching/listening to anyone else, we made the trip in to Birmingham for just one purpose.
Bloody hell they rocked!
Hard-nosed, leading edge/bleeding edge fast rock.
The sound system could have done with being better run, the levels were a little unbalanced but even with this, they were impressive. And they seemed to have a loyal following who, once they’d finished their gig, began thinning out of the audience.
Worth keeping an eye and an ear out for that name, my friends; Barkerhound. I shall be googling them as soon as I’ve finished this review.
By the way – speaking of the gig overall – four quid for a pint of cider shandy and a diet coke? I must be getting old because I don’t think that’s too bad for a music venue in the centre of Brum on a weekend night.
Barkerhound finished, dismantled their kit… and then The Razorbax arrived onstage.
If that sounds as though their arrival was accompanied by a fan-fare from the Buglers of the Life Guards, Angels sweeping over the stage on wings of gossamer spreading rose petals before the four fantastic musicians as they walked on to the platform?
It didn’t quite happen like that.
But it should have.
It should have because from the moment they picked up and went – with very little preparation – straight in to it… they had me. I’m talking about serious musicianship accompanied by a thing that money can’t buy.
The Razorbax stepped up to the plate and… owned it.
They looked comfortable right from the word ‘go’.
The most obvious thing to begin with is how good the Razorbax sound live. Some bands are predominantly studio acts who don’t quite achieve – on-stage – the high production levels they regularly get in a recording.
The reverse is true for other bands – they are energised by the audience, able to squeeze a fraction more from themselves in their live performances than their studio work.
The Razorbax cut right across these two categories. Their studio work – as we’ve heard a couple of times on This Reality Podcast â€“ is tight, punchy and professional. Their live performance cuts it on every single level.
Louis their excellent drummer picked up the band right from the start and threw them in to their first number with such passionate yet measured abandon that it is almost impossible to take your eyes off him. Right from the outset he was the hardest-working member of the band. Which isn’t a diss on the others, it’s just that he set the framework for the three guitarists to fit in to. And they did – they fit in to it brilliantly.
James on bass guitar hardly stopped smiling all night as he worked hard on his fretboard. Laconic, laid-back, yet on the case, he tossed his strobing, probing bass runs in to the musical mix with pin-point accuracy.
Jack on rhythm guitar (by the way, happy birthday for last Friday Jack!) handed in a solid performance that would have put many professionals to shame. He was the perfect accompanying foil to the other three band members – sometimes out in front, usually supporting.
Leigh on lead guitar, backed by – almost egged on by – his fellow band members, ripped through the air like a razor-sharp knife (see what I did there?). Suddenly alternating between a mix of passive/aggressive styling right up to some serious in-your-face-with-attitude action, his style was the perfect icing on a cake of total perfection.
My repeated use of the word ‘tight’ when I describe this band actually undersells how good, how together these boys are. Musical maturity of such calibre in four young lads of their age? You’d have said ‘Impossible’.
But you’d be wrong.
They rocked. And not just with their own numbers – and I need to make that distinction.
This isn’t a band doing covers, this isn’t a talentless bunch of no-ability, no-chancers getting by on material written for them. These boys perform their own material â€“ and it’s chart material right from the outset.
But the band also gave us a snippet of Away From Here by The Enemy which, I confess, got me bouncing. Yeah, we already know I’m sad.
A little later they broke in to a faithful rendition of Billy Bragg’s New England which, after 60 seconds or so, segued in to one of their own numbers so seamlessly that it was breathtaking to listen to.
They also dropped in the introduction of Sweet Child O’ Mine by Guns N’ Roses.
Because we – I mean the people we – because we need to break information down so we can understand it, our brains look for comparisons.
We say things like ‘That film director is the new Spielberg’ or ‘That painter is the new Hockney’.
And people have said of The Razorbax that they’re comparable to Green Day.
No, I’m sorry but no.
I’ve seen Green Day live twice.
The Razorbax are way better on stage than Green Day.
They have an edge that Green Day might have had once upon a time, but Green Day have got fat on the music, and lazy. And not hungry. They’ve forgotten what it’s all about.
The Razorbax are lean and hungry.
The band let absolutely no-one down; they were performing 100% for the crowd all of the time they were on stage.
To anyone who wasn’t there…?
You missed the best live rock performance in my recent memory.
If you weren’t there, I feel sorry for you.
But if you were there… they were brilliant, weren’t they?