Gig Review: Sick N’ Beautiful / Bad Pollyanna / Novacrow – Ivory Blacks, Glasgow (27th May 2018)

Two gigs in two nights. It’s like being young again! Tonight’s three-band lineup included one act we started covering years ago, one I’d barely heard of and one I was very excited to see after catching a couple of their videos on the YooTyoobz. The only real thing they have in common is that they’re female-fronted, something I think is the case with every band that Sick N’ Beautiful have opening for them on this UK tour, a list which changes from night to night.

Novacrow (c) Iain Purdie

Openers Novacrow were featured as a Band of the Day way back in 2014. We’ve followed them since, but this was the first time I’ve seen them play live and wow, have I been missing out. Despite a disappointing crowd turning out (seriously, people, where the hell were you?), they played as if the place was full and absolutely rocked.

They were a little late on stage due to technical hiccups, all of which seemed to revolve around poor Federico, the bassist. During the gig he had to pause a couple of times (allowing Kitty to break out her Edinburgh Fringe standup material), lost his microphone as it dropped out of the stand and I swear he finished the gig missing a string on his guitar. Like true pros, they covered, adapted and played round all the issues.

Playing material mainly from debut EP Black Syrup, the band are as fun on stage as I’d have hoped from their songs and videos. Guitarist Jonyx leaps and lampoons like a court jester as he riffs away, and once Federico got going I thought he was going to smash that bass through the floor. Or ceiling. Or one of his band members. Kitty is just amazing, with great stage presence and a desire to get the crowd involved without making them feel uncomfortable. During one song, she ditched her guitar for full-on audience-engaging mode – which resulted in one of the best tracks of the night.

A shout out also to Torben on drums, who kept everything tight but who I just couldn’t get any photos of due to the lighting!

Novacrow will be opening things up again tonight in Nottingham (if you read this on the 28th) and then back on the bill in Newcastle. Do get there to see them – they deserve an audience!

Bad Pollyanna (c) Iain Purdie

Bad Pollyanna are a band I’d heard of, but that was about it. Never an issue when you’re reviewing, as it’s nice to have no expectations and find out what kind of ride you get taken on. And it was a roller coaster of the best type. The four-piece from Yorkshire quite genuinely blew away all kinds of cobwebs with their high-energy alt-rock.

With a similar setup to Novacrow, only with lead singer Olivia bereft of guitar, they bounced and evoked and belted through a set that just wasn’t as long as it should have been. Nikki on guitars and Paul on bass accompanied her (sorry, no info on who was filling the drum stool), both of whom went for the “one more string than normal” model of their instruments. Nikki made full use of that seventh guitar wire during a couple of cracking solos, and the audio in the venue was good enough that Paul’s bass was fully part of the sound.

A couple of people in the (still frustratingly small) audience definitely knew some of the songs, belting out a chorus or two, and Bad Pollyanna strutted their stuff as I’m sure they did at Breaking Bands the day before.

Absolutely, definitely an act I’d recommend seeing. They rejoin this particular tour up in Newcastle on June 1st.

Sick N’ Beautiful (c) Iain Purdie

And finally, space aliens Sick N’ Beautiful set up their elaborate equipment and brought extra-terrestrial chaos to Glasgow. They were a band member down (guitarist Lobo wasn’t anywhere to be seen, probably off fixing the spaceship), but the four remaining members took us on an incredible journey. If you missed this performance then you genuinely missed out on something special.

With a look that makes me think “if In This Moment did sci-fi”, but with music of a slightly different style, SN’B were thoroughly entertaining. They’re huge in their native Italy, and recently came a narrow second in the Wacken “Battle of the Bands” competition. I tell you, the winner must have been going some to beat this. SN’B have managed to get the perfect blend of great music and great visuals – the one complements the other. It’s not gizmos and gadgets for appearance’s sake.

As well as being female-fronted, the other theme running through all of tonight’s bands was “beefcake bassists” and Big Daddy Rae lived up to his name. First on stage and second in command behind Herma, he introduced the show and kept things going as she changed costume and prepared effects. A hell of a showman/alien as well, throwing that thick-stringed instrument around as if it weighed nothing. Rev C2’s (on guitar) facemask is a wonder of costume design, and I assume he was filling both guitar roles which is damn impressive.

As ever I leave the drummer until last, and I apologise to the plant-being that is Evey. Being at the back of the stage, she didn’t get the light she deserved (or probably needed, poor chlorophyll-based life-form) but the band simply wouldn’t be the same without her. If you see them, do keep an eye out for her – she’s as entertaining as the rest of the crew!

Sick N’ Beautiful (c) Iain Purdie

Focussing on recent release Element of Sex (currently only available direct from them online or on tour), but with some earlier tracks as well, they’re a band who really know how to entertain. An edge of electronica and samples softens the edges of some very heavy rock sounds as they hammered through an hour-long set. Almost every track had some kind of effect involved in it, and I was impressed even in this small venue. I can only imagine what they would be capable of with a label’s budget behind them.

Recent single “Megalomaniacal” with its up-tempo beat got an outing, as did the haunting “New Witch 666”, with accompanying costume change and pyro effects. There were lasers a-plenty and some impressive abuse of a pre-prepared (and probably very scared) guitar. Herma is, frankly, stunning and gives everything to her performance – she sounded out of breath as she talked to the audience during each song.

With an audience who know the songs, I can see a SN’B gig being an absolute riot. Their music’s great, but that stage show takes it to another level. It’s not just the effects – anyone can glue a few lasers together and switch them on – it’s the performance and Sick N’ Beautiful pulled it off magnificently. Honestly, folks, I know the weather’s nice at the moment (ignore that comment if you’ve just been flooded), but it’s worth getting into a cool, dark room for a couple of hours to see them and their great support acts.

They’re planning on coming back at the end of the year. Be one of those seeing them for the second time and already wearing the t-shirt! Remaining dates are:

  • May 28 – The Maze, Nottingham
  • May 29 – The Bullingdon. Oxford (cancelled)
  • May 30 – The Portland Arms, Cambridge
  • May 31 – The Underground, Stoke-on-Trent
  • Jun 01 – Think Tank, Newcastle
  • Jun 02 – ATTMA, Manchester
  • Jun 03 – Camden Assembly, London

Photos by Iain Purdie

Sick N’ Beautiful: official | facebook | twitter | instagram | spotify

Bad Pollyanna: facebook | twitter | youtube | bandcamp

Novacrow: official | facebook | twitter | youtube | instagram

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October 25, 2020 4:19 PM

[…] being able to do some great stuff live based off this look – perhaps a look at Italy’s Sick n’ Beautiful would be […]

May 5, 2021 10:29 PM

[…] last time we saw Sick N’ Beautiful was when they hit Glasgow a couple of years ago with a pair of awesome support bands. They played to a small crowd, which is a hell of a shame as […]