Friday 20th May, 2011: The Westcoast Bar
(Joint review with Tim Rahman for Primitai/Jettblack, Heaven's Basement is my own)
For interview with Jettblack, courtesy of Tim Rahman, visit http://www.rockkent.com/2011/05/jettblack-2/ (photo courtesy of moi. For more see "Oh, hello Jettblack)
Margate; a beautiful seaside town and leading tourist resort, fitting location to a new art gallery, home to an upcoming music venue... I know what you’re thinking; Margate doesn’t have a lot to offer any more so surely there could not possibly be an upcoming music venue. Alas, The Westcoast Bar is slowly but surely proving us all wrong.
Having undergone a slight refurbishment, I do not hesitate when I say that the stage of The Westcoast Bar is in a far better place than when I was last there in November. So, with a new stage and a growing interest, Jettblack and Heaven’s Basement bought their co-headlining tour to the sunny shores of Margate for what would quickly turn into an enjoyable evening.
However, we shall swiftly overlook the first band that played, not only because I do not remember their name, but with utmost sincerity, there is not a word I can say that will hinder the lack of frontman-ship shown by their “vocalist”, who for the most part could not heard, and also for their statement to, and I quote, “ride on the applause of Heaven’s Basement all night”. If a few words were to be given then from a “neutrals perspective” it was a real let down to see a local band given such a prize slot and not take advantage of it at all; with the exception of the talented lead guitarist – who possessed more stage presence and personality than the “frontman” [a band to forget?], their only highlight being a teaser of what would have been a Pantera cover, but Phil Anselmo he was not.
Next up were a band known as Primitai, with a sound reflective of Manowar and an image to match, there was a vast improvement on the previous band. Primitai, a five piece, took to the stage inspired by a charismatic front man reminiscent of Iced Earth’s Matt Barlow in his heyday. Working the crowd with all the charisma and stage presence of a seasoned pro, it was not long before he had us whipping out the air guitars and playing along mid song. Notably, in an instant of request, the crowd ventured closer to the stage, enjoying the unexpected switch in genre to straight up heavy metal. There is still an aspect of fun to Primitai, and while there is a present longing for thrash to return, they have an anthemic vibe which is compelling and clearly working in their favour. With testosterone blazing, Primitai have the potential to be right up there with the best.
Coming off the back of a whirlwind year which including playing Download festival and supporting the likes of Reckless Love and W.A.S.P on tour Jettblack arrived in Margate hell-bent on showing us that for all the current trends in music, straight up balls out rock and roll is what matters. The words “TRY NOT TO BE A FAN” constantly ran through my mind when it was time for Jettblack to take to the stage and for the photographing to begin. Despite a few problems with the sound within the venue, Jettblack set out with guns blazing. With distinct classic rock influences, they oozed confidence and made way for what they called an “intimate” show. Debut album “Get Your Hands Dirty” saw the delivering of many crowd favourites with catchy riffs, memorable lyrics and an attitude of straight up in your face rock n roll thrown in. Filling in the gaps with crowd interaction, jokes and the incessant drive to outdo each other [Stapleton and Dow] with duelling guitar solos, it is clear to see the chemistry within the band.
With the confidence, the look, the banter and the unmistakable catchiness, Jettblack have given a new lease of life to the “rock and roll that will stand the test of time”. They are a band on a mission and their fantastic cover of the classic Kenny Loggins track “Dangerzone” made sure they left the stage to a fantastic ovation and a well deserved post gig beer – as well as some of Margate’s finest fish and chips!
Now, with Heaven’s Basement I was not expecting the quality of performance that they gave. The truth is I didn’t really know what to expect. But in one word, it was “killer”. If a review could be left with one such word, I doubt there was any need for me to start. But it cannot, so, with influences spanning from Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin through to Theory of a Deadman, Buckcherry and Shinedown, they appealed to every single person in the crowd; and though the crowd lacked in numbers, they had an enthusiasm that excelled. Heaven’s Basement did a fine job of putting on a show, thus prompting the question of “what are we to expect when the venue is packed out?” No less than an intensely compelling performance I imagine. With a stunning EP out fuelled with riffs to get you pumping, they are the band setting the benchmark for a new wave of music; needless to say this benchmark is high. So if it is not obvious enough at the moment, Heaven’s Basement were flawless. Vocalist and frontman, Aaron Buchanan was beautifully flamboyant and controlled the stage to no end, guitarist Sid Glover had both the confidence and the look to follow suit and match Buchanan’s energy, while bassist Rob Ellershaw and drummer Chris Rivers proved to be the backbone of the whole ensemble, giving everything that raw edginess that it needed.
Heaven’s Basement deliver, it’s as simple as that.