Saturday 30th June, 2001

The Civic Hall, Stratford-Upon-Avon, Warwickshire, ENGLAND.

Note:  Follow the links in the text, for live mp3's of Earthtone9 (be advised, the quality is not that great). 

Well this turned out to be a night to remember.   A night arranged by a young chap called Ravi, with six bands on the bill, entrance for 10 and all proceedings going to charity (Imperial Cancer and MS Research).  I have been looking forward to this gig as it seems like forever since I've seen Earthtone9 and I was also curious to see what Onedice were like.

We arrived in plenty of time to watch the entire evening of bands, but I was more than a little wary when we were approaching the Civic Hall and the first impressions were that we're joining a queue for ice cream, there was very young children everywhere.  And it only got worse when we got inside with a scene that depicted your typical end of term school disco ( Myoptika).  Okay, nothing wrong with that you might think and your probably right, but it's just something I am not used to (being an old sod, this sort of thing does me no good at all) and to be honest it's not something I would normally choose to be part of.  Anyway, patience and perserverance were at the forefront of my thoughts.

There followed a period where several sets of seemingly random kids got onto the stage, picked up instruments and performed excerpts from pages one to five of Bert Weedon's best selling music book "My First Band".
There followed a period where several sets of seemingly random kids got onto the stage, picked up instruments and performed excerpts from pages one to five of Bert Weedon's best selling music book "My First Band".  This was greeted by dozens of children running around the venue playing 'chase' and 'hide and seek', and to be frank, I thought bollocks to patience and perserverance and we left to check out the local hostelries and come back after bedtime.

And so it was that we returned about 9 o'clock.  As we were going back into the venue, the security guards looked at us a little too hard for my liking and I thought we might be in for a bit of a ruck.  It turns out they just wanted to make sure we were going into the right place.  "Are you going in to Rock n' Roll?" one pipes up "They are all very young in there you know!" he finishes.  Ha, fuckin Ha!  The things I do for the bands I love...

After being searched for the second time by this smiling female bouncer (help!), I got back into the hall for the start of the Autonomy set.   The numbers of bodies in the room were a little reduced, but the average age was looking a little better, it must of been up to 14 now!  It appears that what we began to witness earlier on in the evening had continued for a little longer and it was claimed that they were the three local bands.  Much joy.  Anyway, Autonomy took to the stage and the gig started to take shape, at last.

This is the third time I have seen this band, they are based fairly locally (Daventry) to me, so they tend to keep popping up playing everywhere at the moment.  They performed their usual set of rap orientated rock which generally seems to go down quite well.  The last time I saw them was in April, they had a new rapper (they have twin vocalists) and to be honest things had yet to gel correctly for them.  It's pleasing to see that they have improved by a considerable amount since then and they were operating very well as a band.  They have spent the last couple of months recording their debut album for Earache Records and this seems to have done them some good.

The biggest gripe last time out was that the vocals were shocking, but this time they were an awful lot better, even though Jay was less than at 100% due to hay fever (something with which I can genuinely sympathise).  They do put everything into their show and tonight was no exception giving a performance that on the whole was good.  If you really enjoy this sub-genre of rock then I see that they will do little to disappoint and I suggest you try to catch them.

Onedice - Live @ Stratford, Civic HallOnedice - Live @ Stratford, Civic HallOnedice - Live @ Stratford, Civic Hall
Onedice were next up and it was a marked stride into a different league.  I was particularly curious to see what this band were like as I have not seen them before and have only heard a couple of their songs before.  These guys produce some very powerful and heavy sounds and played with maximum ferocity, pace and passion.  They are a very professional bunch of blokes who know how to tear the place up and get the crowd on their side.

They played a good set of extreme and intense metal, playing with style and were slick, tight and overall somewhat impressive.  The vocals were strong and angry (although I thought they were too low in the mix), as they snarled and growled their way through the set.  I particularly like the deep, very low growls that came from the throat of the big man at the front.

They really had the crowd in their hands as they opened up the stage, inviting everyone and anyone to come up and stage dive as they wished.   And everyone and anyone did, over and over and over again.  At times I couldn't see the band for the mass of kids waiting for their turn to jump.

The band covered both of the songs I'd heard before which included Laugh Cry Lose from their single, which I think is their only recording to date and thirty minutes and something like twelve songs later it was all over in a blur.  In my opinion, it was well worth the effort to see this band, a band that I can understand might not be to everyone's taste (due to their extreme nature), but a band that does put on a good show.  A refreshing blast of power (in a punch-on-the-nose type-way), on a night that began with so much parody.

Oz - Earthtone9
During the break, we bumped into Oz (Earthtone9 - Guitar) on his way into the venue and we exchanged pleasantries.  He was explaining that he had just been to the pictures and had got a text message on his mobile to say they were on stage in five minutes!  It is incredible how laid back he is these days as he continued to explain how he hates the waiting around before the gig.  Earlier, I had brief words with Dave (Earthtone9 - Bass) who was also looking pretty relaxed (albeit assisted by a little help from Mr Al.C.O'Hol).
And then they were on stage.  The first few notes of their first song P.R.D Chaos had hardly finished ringing around the hall and I already knew it was worth the wait to see this band again (as if I'd been asking the question).  The haunting melody of this song together with the powerful driving guitar work make for great listening and gets you ready for more.

"We're a bit more chilled out than 'Onedie', as is the correct pronunciation.  So, if you've got all your testosterone out, just try and be a bit creative once in a while..."  says Karl the vocalist with the band, and they power straight into a magnificent rendition of Withered.   The pit responded.  I've heard this song so many times and I remember Oz telling me it's difficult to put the same enthusiasm into the song after playing it ten thousand times, but they didn't seem to struggle with that tonight.  And there were some excellent growls by Joe (Guitar) on backing vocals.  Splendid, even though it was only met by mediocre applause.

Earthtone9 - Click for larger picture
"This is for charity.  Then let us have a charity round of applause..." Karl insists and that was exactly what they got, much to his amusement and he threatened to continue to tell us when to applaud all night...  On the back of Withered came Star Damage, another powerful live favourite and again went down well in the pit.  During this song, we were treated to some marvellous antics from Dave, who decided that it was all too much this standing up and playing malarkey, so decided to take a lie down.  The occasional half spin and general buggering around saw Dave clean most of the stage floor with his back.  Me thinks Mr Al.C.O'Hol had been whispering these suggestions in Dave's ear, and who was Dave to argue with one so persuasive?
Earthtone9 - Click for larger picture Karl apologised for he too was suffering with hay fever, but you would never of noticed on the evidence of his performance.  "We're gonna play you a new song.  Hope you enjoy it..." He added.  This was Revelation, one of the songs they have been writing over the last couple months and have now recorded on a demo (for Island Records).  I was lucky enough to hear the recorded version of this last week, so I was nicely prepared to hear it live.  It's a great song, following on the heels of the material from Arc' Tan' Gent (their last album) and it showed a maturity and magical development in their writing abilities.  The song has a classical Earthtonian build up with great vocal harmonies, enticing guitar and weaving drum patterns, all coming to the boil with an magical dual guitar riff that gets the hair standing on the back of your neck.  Boy, was I so proud of these lads, tears came to my eyes...

By this time they were beginning to really enjoy themselves.  Karl was extremly vocal between songs tonight, a sign that he is in fine fettle and they were all having a relaxed laugh. 

A very animated Karl starts Tat Twam Asi with some strange body movements and facial expressions, a theme that he keeps in more than one of the songs tonight.  There was another issue that became apparent during the gig, with many instances and obvious amusements, and that was the wearing of humours head apparel.  Rarely have I seen cranial garments worn with such fervour.  Long live the raw vehemence of a man wearing a silly hat...
Dave and Karl - Earthtone9
Then it's time to chill out with Yellow Fever.  It was during this song that I realised just how good Karl and Joe had got interchanging their vocals, with Joe really coming on in leaps and bounds with his backing.  It had made me think, when Joe started to sing some of Karl's parts during Tat Twam Asi as Karl was struggling a little in one or two places with his hay fever.  Joe has improved tremendously, but even more encouraging was the way they work together so well.  I reckon, indeed I hope, this is a development worth watching very closely.
"...this one is new, it's one that we have pretty recently written.  So sit yourself down and absorb" says Karl and they start Amnesia, the second new song of the night.  Again, I'd heard this from the demo and was eagerly awaiting the live rendition.  This song features fantastically delicious harmonised vocals from the up and coming barbershop duo of Middleton and Roberts, along with anthemic guitar riffs that leaves you dribbling and wanting them to hurry up and write some more.  I am hugely encouraged by the way their new material is shaping up, it's in the direction that I personally prefer and very selfishly it pleases the hell out of me.

"We've got one song left.  No really.  And then we shall be gone, from your small historic town.  But tis not with sorrow that we part, interestingly enough.  Tis not with trepidation that we wait for the great tune...  Did anyone actually follow along with that?  I'm a idiot, I just use big words, but I don't really know any English...  This is, err, Kashmir"  Scoop, at last, the truth is finally out.  It's the last song, it's their version, Binary101.  This is a favourite of mine and it takes

Earthtone9 - Click for larger picture
some pulling off live as the vocals have particularly difficult harmonies (that word again!).  Although in the end it's far from perfect, who cares at the end of an excellent set from one of the best bands in the country, shit no, the whole world of rock.

An aptly classical anthem to finish a great live appearance, from a great band.  As the song approaches the end, we firstly see Karl saying good night and leaving the stage, while the others continue to jam in a wall of noise.  Then, it's Oz who pulls his guitar off leaving a wail of feedback as he props it on it's stand and exits.  Joe just slowly walks off stage with his guitar, leaving just Dave pounding his bass and Simon drumming like a demon.  The two are engrossed for a while as time stands still and the sound thins to their mesmeric efforts, still backed by the consonance of feedback.  The drums slowly stop and Simon departs, leaving Dave with his head down, looking to the floor continuing for just a few more moments.  Finally, Dave places his bass on the floor and exits stage centre and now we're left with just the sounds of the instruments refusing to die.  They moan in a decaying agony for a lasting instant, until the crew puts them out of their misery.   WOW.  I am speechless and missing them already...

Well, I've experienced a mixed set of emotions tonight.   From wondering why I was there, to thinking that I didn't want it to end.   Overall, helped by the performances of Autonomy and Onedice but championed by one of the best performances I have seen by a hugely relaxed Earthtone9, it made this night one that I just couldn't imagine missing...


NoteMore live pictures of Earthtone9 from the gig hopefully coming soon.

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