After months of refurbishment work the Castle and Falcon in Birmingham re-opened its doors in March this year. The venue, which is easy to reach with good local parking, has had a complete overhaul in terms of its layout and equipment for the live bands that regularly occupy the stage. Out front is the standard bar with plenty of seating, but we’re only interested in the back for tonight as Skarlett Riot headline a night of female led metal, supported by Sister Shotgun and Neverise.
Neverise took to the stage and, having never heard of or seen these guys before, I was looking forward to their set. They went straight into their first song, My Apologies, from their new EP, Painted Gold. Jessica has a stunning voice and the rest of the band complements this beautifully. Through all of their songs there is a fantastic contrast between heavy rhythmic sections and softer, melody backed sweet spots. These guys also have the pace changes mid song down to a fine art, as their second song, Suffocate, clearly demonstrates. Their EP was played to us in full, albeit not in order with the interjection of a couple of their other tracks, including a brand new one called Infinite. Jessica worked the audience well too which meant the crowd were worked up and engaged ready for act two.
I’ve seen Sister Shotgun once before at Macmillan Fest’ in Nottingham. They were good then, but tonight they blew me away. Kicking off the night with a song called No Hope the energy in the venue instantly went sky high. It’s not very often I hear a band on stage that accurately replicates their studio recordings as well as these guys did tonight. Miss Fortune was the next song to follow before we moved into ballad mode with Scarlet Visions. Rob, their lead guitarist, delivered some absolutely stunning solos through all the music. Meanwhile Niall, Adam and Tim on rhythm, drums and bass provided a rock solid foundation. Chloe engaged the crowd in monumental fashion at one point, coming down off the stage to really get everyone moving. She has a great voice and knows how to own the stage. Finishing with Silhouettes, the band delivered their entire EP, Devour, to us over the evening. Music, nailed. Stage presence, nailed. Energy, nailed. A tough act to follow then for Skarlett Riot.
Hailing from Scunthorpe Skarlett Riot have been building a following on the UK scene since forming in 2010. This is the first date on their short tour, and also the first date since they signed to Despotz Records. Tonight they lacked the company of their bassist Martin, Sister Shotgun bassist Tim jumping in to support them, hardly leaving the stage from his previous set! The intro to Divide Us signals the start of the show and, amidst cheers from the crowd, the band takes to the stage launching straight into the song. Skarlett’s vocal range is absolutely outrageous and she uses this to her full advantage. Her voice is crystal clear over the powerful riffs from guitarist Danny. Empty Inside follows next which gives us insight into the bands new tone and ability to switch seamlessly from muscle-bound thrashing to infectious melodic moments that make the crowd pause and stare. An older song, Adrenaline finishes the first group of tracks, revamped with their heavier nature it makes the tune feel rugged and torn, leaving the crowd wanting more.
Skarlett dons her guitar and joins Danny for the next few songs, delivering the classic Wake Up, Cascade and Are You Alive, marking the half way point in their time. As we move gradually from their older catalogue with Ignite, the band bring us Feel. If there was ever a track that left you shocked and stunned with the quality that Skarlett Riot deliver then it is this one. Briefly going back in time with What We’ve Become and House of Cards, Skarlett Riot again show us their awesome ability to bring a fresh feel to older tunes with their newer grittier style. After a brief interlude they burst into Voices, lead track from the Sentience EP. The drums, oh the drums! Drummer Luke has worked painstakingly hard all the way through, but this song really lets him shine. He absolutely thunders through the venue and the energy of the entire place sky rockets with him. In no time at all we found ourselves at their final two tracks, Scream at Me and The Wounded signalling the end of what was a fantastic night of music. Overall I think the quality of the acts before them really made Skarlett Riot push the boat out for their performance, they are not known for holding back, and while preaching from the book of riot tonight was no exception.
Also, hats off to Tim from Sister Shotgun who somehow managed to find the stamina to do two sets with two hyper bands. He was shattered at the end and quite rightly deserved a good drink! The night was done, the music was kick-ass and everyone was left wanting more. You couldn’t have had a more impressive line up of artists in a more suitable venue.
- Divide Us
- Empty Inside
- Wake Up
- Are You Alive
- What We’ve Become
- House of Cards
- Scream At Me
- The Wounded
Skarlett Riot are currently working on a new album, which should be available later in the year.
Writing: James Conlin