When you’ve got a great EP like Anchor Lane’s latest, it’s only fitting you put on a gig to showcase it. As one of the best bands I discovered last year, I’ve kept them fixed on my radar since. New Beginning is an excellent EP and deserves your attention if you enjoy your modern hard rock.
Kicking things off tonight are The Great Kull to a reasonably sized audience. They’re a hotchpotch of standard faces you’re likely to see in a band and manage to warm the crowd up nicely. Evidently, this isn’t their first performance with the level of skill on display. Playing a tight set, their cohesive sound is a great fit to fall in line with tonight’s headliners. Between their original material, they fit in a cover of Alice in Chains’ “Man in the Box” and close their set with Pearl Jam’s “Alive”. Given a gritty makeover, they’re both great interpretations of the grunge classics.
Frontman Jamie Marshall is bursting with energy as he springs about the stage and occasionally into the crowd. However, it’s guitarist Ciaran Hanratty that is the main draw. With his Slash-esque playing, complete with Les Paul, his unassuming presence fuels the music and his effortless playing keeps my eyes glued to his side of the stage.
The Sunny Devils follow them with their groove-filled psychedelic tones. Complete with falsetto vocals, it almost sounds like The Darkness on acid. The bass is equal parts overpowering and captivating and at times feels like the main component of the songs. The fuzzy and distorted sounds keep the crowd engaged with synchronised head banging from the mostly-filled venue. The reliance on vocal effects wears thin relatively quickly and they feel more like a gimmick than an enhancement. Interaction from vocalist and guitarist, Steven Warnock, feels forced and perhaps comes too often, fleshing out what would otherwise have been a very short set. But it’s a better attempt than I’ve seen from some bands in my time. Overall, they’re a decent band who get the crowd going but do little for myself.
Now, for the men of the hour, Anchor Lane take to the stage to an almost capacity Audio. From the first notes, they take command and ensure everyone in the room is paying attention. Launching their assault with the New Beginning opener “Finished for Twelve”, it sounds even more gargantuan in a live setting.
A couple of songs in and the band are hit with technical issues which gives them a chance for an impromptu jazz jam whilst a new drum is found. Frontman Conor Gaffney uses it as a vocal warm-up in the form of call and response, the crowd responding earnestly which transfers later in the night for singing the choruses. He exudes charisma and easily entertains his captive audience. When they’re not doing jazz jams, they fire out massive, chunky riffs with arena-worthy choruses. It’s modern hard rock inspired by modern bands for a modern audience.
As the band hammer through their set, they draw songs from their arsenal with two of the highlights being the melodic “Eclipse” – a new song and “Hunter’s Heart”. It shows the level of quality on display that the entire set passes in the blink of an eye as Gaffney announces with a toast for everyone for coming out and there are two songs left in the form of “Cog in the Wheel” and the touching tribute to last year’s fallen icons in “Twenty Sixteen”.
Running like a well-oiled machine, the four-piece deliver a highly polished set, obvious from start to finish that a lot of time, effort and passion has gone into not only this night but their music as a whole. The turn-out and excitement from the crowd is proof of that. There’s an atmosphere in the room not dissimilar from a sold-out arena and in the most humble and professional way, Anchor Lane behave like that.
With one of the slickest performances I’ve seen and from such a young band, the future seems bright for Anchor Lane. There’s a handful of upcoming shows from them, including a slot at this year’s Wildfire Festival in Scotland. And I can guarantee they’ll be one of the best bands of the weekend.
The Great Kull: facebook