Tonight we are back at Bannermans in Edinburgh to see a true NWOBHM band in the form of Girlschool. I first saw the original line up on the Hit & Run tour in 1981 at the Edinburgh Odeon, only Kim McAuliffe, lead vocals/guitar, and Denise Dufort on drums survive from that line-up and are ably backed up with long-serving Jackie Chambers on lead guitar and recently returned to the fold Tracey Lamb on bass.
I have seen the band on every tour since ’81 and was really looking forward to tonight but first a band I have not seen before, Evyltyde from London. The band start us off with the first track off last years Singularity album “The Genie” and right away it’s clear that Hannah Delany has a great voice and stage presence, with some stunning guitar work from Danny Merton, fabulous drumming from Gavin Rodriguez and not forgetting the ever grinning Jeff Rolland on bass, this is a fabulous groove-laden track and a great start.
We hit “The Wall” from the same album now, another groove-laden stunning track, then we get a four way hit next from 2017’s Rising album with “No Violet” with its laid back drum intro before those crunching guitars and bass take over and Hannah’s killer voice kicks in. A stunning track. Next, “Eye for an Eye” has a fabulous guitar and drum layered start, and I wonder why have I not heard this band before. There are hints of Lacuna Coil on this track. The harder “Dark Within” & “Edge of the World” end a fabulous run from Rising.
The multi-layered “Never Fall”, again with hints of Lacuna Coil, is stunning, and we have a couple from the band’s self-titled album in the form of the hard-rocking “Your Darkest Fears” & “Kick You Down”, another couple of great tracks. We see the bands “Scars” with its fabulous guitar intro and soaring vocals before they end with 2016’s “Bullet in the Head” a fast-paced rocker and great way to end a fabulous set. I loved this band, as did the crowd and I will definitely be looking out for them again, I would urge you to do the same. (p.s. Don’t ask if the shirts have tour dates on them.)
The main event now and a band that formed in 1978 and came up through the golden era that was NWOBHM, I give you Girlschool, in a venue that is hot, sweaty and sold-out. The band bounce onto the stage and we head back all the way to 1980 with “Demolition Boys” and boy, the girls are on fire tonight as Jackie cranks the guitar up to 11 with Kim, Tracey and Denise joining in. If I shut my eyes I could be back at the Odeon. What a start.
They head straight into “C’mon Let’s Go” from 1981’s fabulous Hit and Run album, the tour I first saw them on. The crunching guitar intro with the killer Denise pounding away in the rear, the band seem to have a newfound energy on this tour as this is probably the best I have seen them in a long time. The swaggering guitar introduces one of my favourite tracks, “The Hunter” from Hit and Run. Can this night get any better already? Another swagger as we get the title track from Guilty As Sin, which is fabulous.
The crowd are loud, hot and singing along from the start. A bit of “Action” now with its more upbeat modern take before we see a bit of “Hit and Run” followed by a sight of “Future Flash”, another favourite of mine. The crunching guitars, pounding bass and drums and the never ageing vocals from Kim carry the crowd along. The pounding drums can only lead into “Nothing to Lose” sounding as fresh as ever given it is 40 years old. Then the girls “Kick it Down” before they “Take it Like a Band” with its Motörhead-laden killer riffage, just an amazing track from Guilty As Sin.
We are told to “Watch Our Step” before they “Take it All Away” with Jackie pointing her mic stand into the crowd to get us, including myself, to sing the chorus but don’t try it with Denise as you will get told where to go. The race is on now as we get the seminal “Race with The Devil” and the place is bouncing before the girls pay homage to their former mentor, Lemmy, with a stunning version of “Bomber” before the setlist ends with an “Emergency” and its guitar intro leading into the bass and drums before Kim opens up her fabulous vocals. It was a stunning way to end the main set before we get two encores in the form of 1982’s “Screaming Blue Murder”, a favourite album of mine meaning a very happy reviewer here, before they end an all too short set with the classic “Tush”.
I’m not sure where to start here with the band, there was a vigour tonight, the band were on fire musically, vocally and they were having a laugh. It was like going back in time tonight to a very happy time in my music past and it truly did not disappoint and that was very apparent speaking to other gig-goers in the venue afterwards, there was not a disappointed fan in the house and the girls stayed about for ages taking photos with fans and signing everything. I leave for home safe in the belief that the girls are on the crest of a wave at the moment, very much on form and I would urge you all, young and old to get out there and support one of the longest-running all-girl bands in the world, certainly one of the best (if not the best) on tonight’s performance.
Pics by Coops Gig Photography