Oatcake day returned for the third year at The Sugarmill 8th August with Essex boys The Promise, harsh pop rock band Breaking Satellites, flamboyant performers Paper Tigers and the return for the one and only appearance this year at their 350th gig, Friends of Ken.
All the way from Essex that day, 5 piece rock band The Promise kicked the night off with ‘Star Stuck’. I didn’t expect them to make a massive noise but they did. With rock influences it leads them to anthemic choruses and a powerful, mesmerising sound. Harmonies were added in ‘Get Me Up’ and it was sincerely pleasing as their vocals are more in the genre of pop but it was a unique smash hit. Last time they were in Stoke they played at Stoke Live 2012 and that’s where the majority audience were from. It was a specific audience with young teen girl who seemed to craze over them as they have a mainstream boy band exterior. With the story telling lyrics in ‘Not Bad for a Thursday’ highlighted an influence of theirs- The Script. With the cover of pop track ‘Lazy Song’ by Bruno Mars saw those putting their own original rock twist to it. ‘Beating Hearts’ their single from latest EP, ‘Songs to Write Home About’ is one to look out for. The powerful chorus and passionate lyrics show this band at their full potential of the night. The Promise gave the audience something mega to watch as the guitarist Chris Nash and Colin Jones gave the band that rock personality with vibrant energy.
They certainly deafened the presence of the Sugarmill. Breaking Satellites entered with a smashing intro and electric energy. There was a repeated drum beat throughout the intro it was like the beat was drowning inside you and going towards your toes. ‘Take a Flight’ was like musical knife stab that hits you with its additive melody. ‘Bang Tidy’ showed the full potential of lead vocalist Matt’s screaming, shouting vocals. It seemed that amps were on full blast and the drum beat wasn’t given a fair advantage to Matt’s vocals as they were difficult to hear. Throughout the duration of the rest of their set it was apparent that their lyrics were a tad bit cheesy for what seemed a punk rock emo band.
The lads that put an aggressive edge to rock pop music graced the stage as main support. As if the stage isn’t hectic enough with 5 members of Paper Tigers they added two additions, no not people but Paper Tiger stage props. Two large sized boards were placed either side of drummer Laurence picturing the girl that appears on their promotional material, it gave the sense of professionalism. Kicking straight into ‘Summer on Blossom Street’ grabbed everyone attention and it began the continually, infectious movement. Covering The Killers ‘When You Were Young’ was a brilliant choice for them as they smashed it with their inexpressible energy. Image caress Paper Tigers perform the track their first released, ‘Felt this Before’. Jim Carter’s vocals are suited perfect to the aggressive pop melody and as a member of the audience you could feel the emotion coming out of the lyrics. November is the month for Paper Tigers as their EP ‘Safe in Words’ is released. The single that will come from it is ‘Back to you’. Witnessing it live I can safely say its sounding promising and crammed to its possible limit of talent.
Entering in darkness Friends of Ken were welcomed by thunderous screams. They kicked straight into ‘Meep Meep’ and ‘Backwards’. Even being together for 14 years they still gather a crowd, there was a varied age range too so they are still being loved even though they only play once a year! It was evident that FOK haven’t lost that passion and eccentric energy whilst performing. FOK covered ‘Holiday Song’ by The Pixies and ‘It Must Be Love’ by Madness. Their immense talent took us on a journey way back in time to the 80s maybe 90s. After each magnificent performance there was a sequence of outrageous applauding from the much appreciative audience. Each song whether it was older or newer had a different story to be told – even the cover songs had a story. It was story time with Friends of Ken. Laughter erupted after each story which was a great way of connecting and amusing the audience. If you ever want a conversation to never end, ring Ben McManus up, he’s your man. The last story that was told pulled at every persons heart strings, Ben made it all emotional and meaningful. A true storyteller!
FOK are a band that adore their fans and want the maximum best for them hence why they let fans choose some of the set list. Track ‘Spray My Name’ from their 2009 album ‘il tempo gigante’ gave the Sugarmill that loud punk, rock feel with the quintessential simple bass and guitar sounds. ‘Pockets’ is one of their tracks that gets the audience excited with its rapid melody it gives a FOK that Blink 182 punk pop sound. ‘Dance likes no one’s watching’ heard the audience echoing the unforgettable lyrics and the added layer of backing vocals which work well with this band as they have a female vocalist. It gives me a feel that The Subways could be an influence. They end with the track that makes an appearance on Oatcakes Day’s official album Red or Brown Sauce – ‘NIMBY’. FOK kept each person’s attention from start to finish, it’s awesome to see an old band like this coming back now and again playing too the old and new crowd. An amazing band to see live a truly entertaining evening. I’d still say after 14 years being together they are still a band to look out for.