A slight delay in proceedings kicking off tonight means that there’s a fairly substantial crowd gathered at the doors of Voodoo sometime after their scheduled opening. This bodes well for local lads, Baleful Creed, whose opening support set is privy to a sizable throng, a considerable number of whom are obviously here specifically for them. Their brand of metallic-tinged hard rock is a suitable fit; the four-piece’s set mostly representing their 2017 ‘Seismic Shifter’ album, with the barrelling charm of the Lemmy-esque ‘Lose Religion’ and the Sabbath worship of ‘God’s Fear’ particularly resonating with the crowd. Thanks to an assertive performance and some well-honed riffage, Baleful Creed provides an adrenalizing start to the evening.
The ante is only upped when Welsh rockers, Those Damn Crows, hit the stage. Replete with their own self-performed “Entrance Song”, their set is defined an assured swagger from the offset. ‘Don’t Give a Damn’ is a fiercely infectious opener, with the audience joining in by the second chorus. Frontman Shane Greenhall makes good of the crowd’s engagement, his jocular inter-song banter as effective as his innate showmanship. However, with material as strong as that on the band’s debut, ‘Murder and the Motive’, the songs have already laid a lot of the ground work. The southern licks of ‘Behind These Walls’ courtesy of guitarists Ian Thomas and David Winchurch sound even more potent live, and the soaring refrain of ‘Blink Of An Eye’ momentarily seems to make Voodoo feel like a significantly larger venue. The closing number ‘Rock ‘N’ Roll Ain’t Dead’ takes the gold for sing-along of the evening; a triumphant finish to Those Damn Crows’ inaugural Belfast performance.
Last June, Stone Broken played Belfast in direct support of Buckcherry. In the interim period, the band has toured stateside alongside Fozzy promoting their sophomore album, ‘Ain’t Always Easy’. Now the Walsall quartet has sold out Voodoo on their own headlining run. Not bad progress. The heavy touring has evidently tightened the group as a unit, as tonight’s performance is slick, while still maintaining the raw density of their sound. Rich Moss’ vocals are considerably more commanding than on record, bellowing out one anthemic refrain after another in a seemingly endless succession. Robyn Haycock remains one of the most entertaining drummers in the current UK rock scene, her omnipresent enthusiasm never ceasing once throughout the set, reaching overdrive during her solo. From the anti-domestic abuse proclamations of ‘Heartbeat Away’ and the PMA advocacy of ‘Better’, to the monster power-balladeering of ‘Home’ and ‘Anyone’, each and every song is met with vociferous approval – every one of them seeming destined for stadiums rather than rooms as small as this one. And yet, they carry themselves with a humility that belies their undeniable potential to dominate in the modern rock genre – be that Stateside or closer to home. Regardless of what the future holds for Stone Broken, tonight clearly demonstrates that they have the potential for much greater successes, and a rabid fanbase that will follow them on the journey.
Review: Jonni Davidson
Photography: Marc Leach
UK ‘HOME’ TOUR DATES
07: Edinburgh, SCOTLAND, La Belle Angele
08: Aberdeen, SCOTLAND, Unit 51
09: Glasgow, SCOTLAND, Garage
10: Belfast, N IRELAND, Voodoo
12: Newcastle, ENGLAND, Riverside
13: Stoke, ENGLAND, Sugarmill
15: Birmingham, ENGLAND, The Mill (sold out)
16: Norwich, ENGLAND, Waterfront
17: Leeds, ENGLAND, Brundell Social Club
19: Hull, ENGLAND, Welly
20: Liverpool, ENGLAND, Arts Club
22: London, ENGLAND, Islington Academy
23: Oxford, ENGLAND, O2 Academy 2
24: Cardiff, WALES, Globe (sold out)
26: Exeter, ENGLAND, Phoenix
27: Southampton, ENGLAND, The 1865
Main support on all dates excluding Scotland will be provided by THOSE DAMN CROWS,
Main support on all Scottish dates will be provide by ANCHOR LANE
Visit Stone Broken’s official website www.stonebroken.com/shows for a regularly updated list of appearances.
A special, hand numbered, 3-track Ltd Ed. CD, will be exclusively available at the merch desk of every show across SB’s February UK headline tour and via the band’s website, here: www.stonebroken.com