Though perhaps a surprising addition to this gig, The Rat Race repay the faith put in them by The Sugarmill by giving what many will see as their best performance yet. The Sugarmill’s very own Chris Wilson hails ‘The Beatles Did It First as the best chorus knocking around Stoke at the moment, and as the band prance around on stage dressed fully clad in outfits which mirror slightly the early years of the fantastic four from Liverpool, the song has a slight tinge of cunning irony. New tune F#*k Knows might have trouble getting radio play, but it is easily the most intelligent song they have produced do far, highlighting the fact that this is a band which improves as it goes along the long and winding road of the music scene.The Rat Race may not have instantly hit all the right notes since they formed last year, but they are certainly finding their way now. Tom Baker on guitar, again quoting Mr Wilson, has a really modern guitar, and though Grant Foster is a front man with clear similarities to another local front man, he is also very much finding his own groove, as is drummer Brad Gurney, who played his tighest set to date on the infamous stage of The Sugarmill tonight. The Rat Race have their doubters, as does every band, and I will admit that as a music fan, I have struggled on occasion to take to the bands sound, but this gig supporting Dead Sons tonight has proven that they need to be taken more seriously, as The Rat Race are beginning to mean business.
6 piece and forever growing in people and sound; Neon Rouge set high standards of good music. After the departure of Conroy, new bassist, former member of OK.Coral Jamie has taken over. The impact of a new bassist has given Neon Rouge a more devious bluesy style. Brand new, not just new but BRAND new, never played in public before, only in Kieran and Jon’s basement hideaway; Venus Flytrap has, personally rose above my expectation. Psychotic blues seeps through the Break Jaw Blues rhythmic pattern, the subtle kick in shows that you don’t have to be loud and cocky too create a blinding track. An acoustic setting on high, Black Mamba goes on in full swing. Kieran and Charlotte’s harmonies together give out subtle inflections of pitch which explains and conveys the music emotion. The set was cut short, but they left stage with an echo of the addictive beat and one line lyric ‘Beware of the Big Foot’. Up and coming EP, Sea Box Wasp Jellyfish, has the odds of being a treasure.
Intimidation came to mind as Dead Sons travelled from the balcony to the stage. Even the image says it all. After doing their biggest show ever supporting Arctic Monkeys in 2011, Dead Sons haven’t stopped. As I put my phone away and focus entirely on the band, the power of music and distinct performance easily made my list for best live performance and sound of 2013. Some people would say it was noise but to complete the honesty its genius noise. Hearing tracks from Hollers & The Hymns through computer speakers is a change around to hearing it live. Double the pounding drums and the Alex Turner enhanced vocals are incredibly entertaining.