With doors opening at 6:30pm and four bands scheduled to play by a strict 10pm curfew, it's no surprise to see The Jokers in action just ten minutes later and performing to a half full venue. Despite their chosen moniker, there is nothing verging on a joke about these Brits who play some seriously catchy, mainly up tempo, blues flavoured classic rock balanced with a more modern sounding groove. From opening number 'V.I.B.E.' to set closer 'Jamie Jane', they put on a classy display of high energy rocking fury, consolidating the evidently apt title of their debut album, 'The Big Rock & Roll Show'. Admittedly, The Jokers' compositions are not the most original of tunes, but if you're a band who set out to pastiche another style of music so emphatically, then this is how it should be done - with a hundred per cent conviction. The menacing mask of bass player Jokers Jet could be construed by some as a little misplaced alongside their chosen musical path but I find that his sinister gaze works well within the band's predominantly classic rock sound, adding a little bit of a sharper edge to their otherwise more traditional appearance, in the same way that their music is spiced with a few contemporary elements here and there. Vocalist Wane Parry has a versatile voice and, delivering a note-perfect performance, also knows how and when to strike all the right poses. Overall, an enjoyable opening to the evening.
Friday 14th May 2010
Rescue Rooms in Nottingham, UK
Missing the entirety of Halcyon Way due to interview commitments I arrive back in the venue just as main support band Forever Never are on their final song. As said band close their set, the atmosphere is noticeably electric in a sold out Rescue Rooms, fortunately upgraded from Rock City's basement, as sweaty bodies are tightly crammed into its small confines. No sooner have Forever Never performed their final bar of music, fans loudly chant "Fozzy...Fozzy...Fozzy" in anticipation for the evening's main attraction. A string of classic Queen songs play through the PA and it's not until the bass/snare drum intro of 'We Will Rock You' bursts forth that the lights dim, people scream louder than they have all evening, and members of Fozzy appear, culminating with the entrance of current WWE world heavyweight champion Chris Jericho. With the man's impressive wrestling credentials aside, Jericho proves himself metal band frontman extraordinaire as they launch into 'Under Blackened Skies' and he has the crowd in his grasp from the off. He prompts them to raise their hands up high, and just about every single person in the venue obliges as a sea of fists pump the muggy air. In fact, The Rescue Rooms is so oppressively hot you can actually see sprays of sweat emanating from people's heads as they swing their hair around to the infectious melodies of Fozzy's rock/metal discharge. The seriously heavy groove of opening riff from 'Martyr No More' blasts out next as all band members reciprocate with the crowd's energetic vibe and bounce around the stage with beaming grins. I can't recall the last band I saw that looked like they were enjoying themselves as much as Fozzy are evidently doing so tonight. Bassist Sean Delson even resembles the great Steve Harris at a quick glance with his manically smiling face and the poses he strikes, wielding his instrument in the direction of the crowd Harris style. In fact, I get the overriding impression that Fozzy are a band who belong, and certainly deserve to be, on a much bigger stage so perhaps such a Maiden reference is apposite. Guitarist and main songwriter Rich Ward looks like a man full of pride in being able to present the band's latest material, arguably their strongest to date, to a live audience, and redefines the phrase 'audience participation' by inviting a random crowd member onstage for the second half of the show to act as microphone holder when his stand becomes unstable. Further audience participation arrives in the form of Jericho requesting those present yell "hey, hey, hey" or "one, two, three" depending on which arm he raises during the chorus of 'God Pounds His Nails' which, quite frankly, is a mightily fine idea in having fans effectively provide backing vocals for the track, and it works a treat. One final flourish of fun arrives during the band's final two numbers as onetime Fozzy producer/guitarist, and Sabbat axeman, Andy Sneap appears onstage to jam out fantastic covers of Stuck Mojo's 'Not Promised Tomorrow' and Judas Priest's 'Freewheel Burning'. Actually, one could argue if the former is a 'cover' at all what with three current members of Stuck Mojo performing the song! In short, Fozzy prove themselves worthy of their self-assured tagline found within their website blurb - "America's most entertaining band!". For sheer, unmitigated downright rock/metal fun, it doesn't get any better than this. Suffice to say, when Jericho decides that wrestling is no longer for him, a decision I'm guessing will one day be dictated by age, then he undoubtedly has an equally successful career ahead of him as a musician. Actually, scrap that, he's already proved his worth of such based on what I've witnessed in the Rescue Rooms tonight. Fucking awesome.
Click on thumbnails for larger images:
Reviews & Photography by Mark Holmes
Click on thumbnails for larger images: