Arriving shortly before the doors open on this cold Friday night, there were already a handful of folks waiting outside in the patio area beside the Nottingham Rescue Rooms main entrance. As the door time came and went, accompanied by the rumblings of a sound-check from deep within the venue, more than a few of us were glad of the patio heaters while waiting!
Once inside the all black 500 capacity venue it was painfully clear that this gig was not going to be close to a sell-out, with the balcony closed off and sizeable merch stands on each side of the hall. Those fans who did come down early made sure there was no space on the barrier as the night’s opening act, Skarlett Riot, took to the stage.
Touring to support their ‘We Are The Brave’ EP, the Lincolnshire hard rockers opened up with one of the new tracks, the hard hitting ‘Divide Us’. They may have started playing to a handful of people, but it took no time at all for that crowd to swell as guitarist Danny lays down killer riffs backed by a pounding percussion track from Luke while Chloe works the crowd with her mesmerising vocals. It may only have been a short opening set but Skarlett Riot fitted in three more tracks off the new EP including the high energy ‘Rising’ alongside a couple of fan favourites including ‘Villain’ and ‘Tear Me Down’. Judging by the cheers from the crowd as the set drew to a close, I can’t help but think there will be a few new members of the Scarlett Riot family after this.
Kudos goes to the crew for the breakneck changeover times for the bands tonight, despite the late start both bands were able perform their full planned sets in support of Gus G. So it was no time at all that we saw Italian metal band Arthemis stride out onto the stage.
Prior to this show I had not heard much of Arthemis so I was not sure what to expect, so when they exploded into full on balls to the wall classic metal I knew there were on to the makings of a good set. The guitar work from Andy Martongelli was phenomenal as he mixed shredding solos with solid rhythm work, and lathered it with a heap of showmanship. The crisp crunchy guitars were met head on by the flamboyant yet pitch perfect soaring vocals from front man Fabio whose grin was infectious. Throughout the set bassist JT has been stage front, foot on monitors with his five string headless bass, and by blasting out a quick bass solo shows us who has been responsible the power behind the thundering sound they are producing. Artemis put on a great metal show and as their set came to an end one of the best memories was just how much fun they were having while doing so.
Another fast tear down followed by fair helping of smoke, and the stage was ready for the headline act. Gus G is known not only as the guitarist the provides Ozzy Osbourne with his unique sound, but also as the man behind metal band Firewind.
There was no fuss as the band started to take position, and with the minimum of fuss Gus G took to the stage and opened into ‘My Will Be Done’. This is a man who lets his guitar do all the talking, and tonight that instrument was singing to us on its own. That’s not to say Gus was aloof, far from it as he thanked the crowd for their cheers, and also introduced the rest of his band as each song progressed. The searing vocals from Henning Basse were a perfect complement to the nimble fingered guitar work from Gus. This is a live band with history too, as Gut thanked Henning for helping him out with a Firewind tour in the past, as well as a not to drummer Johan Nunez who is a member of Firewind.
It was next up that, as a nod Gus’s early career, we heard him put a modern twist on ‘Break the Chains’ by Swedish metal outfit Dream Evil – and you didn’t need to be a fan of the band to recognise as a quality metal track with some killer hooks and power riffs. It goes without saying that a show where the main man is a guitarist will deliver some serious guitar work, but the piece of music that was where you would normally expect a solo was guitar heaven. Pounding riffs and fast fingered solos all played with serious showmanship were order of the night, but this was not just about one man. This was an instrumental number backed with powerful double kick drumming and bass that complimented the music without overpowering. This was a song without vocals, but one that had a fair number of fans head banging along, completely in the zone.
Late in the set Gus introduced Chloe, who fronts opening act Skarlett Riot, to provide guest vocals to his 2013 album track ‘Long Way Home’. Chloe’s powerful vocals matched the song perfectly as she took centre stage, and provided a real treat for everyone, evidenced by the cheers and applause as she finished the song and left the stage.
The night was nearing the end but Gus was not slowing down as he performed ‘I am the Fire’, the title track for his 2013 album. This went down a treat and the atmosphere was electric as the fans were singing the chorus back to Henning as he held the mic out. It would have been hard for Gus to do an entire set without playing an Ozzy song, so when he said he wanted to see everyone go crazy for the last song of the night, it was an easy guess what was coming next. The opening bars to Crazy Train, and if the energy in the venue seemed to peak for ‘I am the Fire’ then it was in the stratosphere for Crazy Train. Unsurprisingly the guitar work was impeccable and ending on that song was a perfect close to a truly memorable show.
As I left the venue I look back and it felt like a single show where three unique bands got together to entertain the crowd. Three bands who are clearly on top of their game and very capable musicians in their own right. I feel sorry for those who did not get down early enough to see openers Skarlett Riot, but I am sure Chloe has won some new fans after her performance with Gus. Artemis really put the fun back into metal while still knocking out some serious sounds. Gus G is already a guitar legend and has stadium shows under his belt, so it was truly an honour to see him in such a small venue playing his own music.
Gus G Setlist:
My Will Be Done
Eyes Wide Open
Blame It on Me
Break the Chains
World on Fire
The Fire and the Fury
Long Way Down
Children of the Night
I Am the Fire