Blood Red Saints / Midnite City / Sister Rose Hot

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Blood Red Saints / Midnite City / Sister Rose - O2 Academy 3, Manchester (UK) - 09 February 2018

Bolton's Sister Rose kicked off the evenings proceedings with an enjoyable thirty minute set of basic Classic Rock. Their singer Chris Berry had a bit of the Brian Johnson's about his vocals. Highlight were 'Shame On You' and new song 'Seven' got a good reception, even if it was a tad predictable. One of their guitarists amusingly left the stage mid-set; initially, I thought he'd been caught short, but it was in fact to change his guitar, the replacement being located at the front of the stage in its case – there were no guitar techs at this level.

Midnite City Live

One of the draws of the evening was the inclusion of Midnite City on the bill. They played most of their excellent self-titled debut ('Things She Said' and 'Everything You Meant To Me' being dropped due to time constraints) which is arguably the best album Danger Danger never wrote. The band were enthusiastic and put on a good performance, and they managed to reproduce the fantastic backing vocals and harmonies live, courtesy of all the members, but particularly drummer (and ex-Blood Red Saint) Pete Newdeck. I think they need a few more live shows together to hone their performance and would certainly benefit from a larger stage; singer Rob Wylde and bassist Josh "Tabbie" Williams frequently knocked into one another! Guitarist Miles Meakin managed to avoid such collisions, other than from the eyes of the female fans! From my position, I could only see the tip of keyboard player Shawn Charvette's hair, although, the latter did arrive half an hour before the rest of him entered the room! Highlights for me were set opener 'We Belong', the infectious 'Think About You' and one of the songs of 2017 'Ghosts Of My Old Friends'. Hopefully, this band will continue to grow as I think they have real potential.

Midnite City Live 2

I estimated there were four hundred fans in attendance at The Academy 3 by the time that Blood Red Saints appeared on the stage to showcase their new album 'Love Hate Conspiracies'. Class-clown Pete Godfrey was his usual comical self and took time in-between songs to converse with the crowd. I had started the show on the barrier at the front of the stage but had to move as my wife struggled with the noise. The sound just in front of the bar was infinitely clearer and it proved a good decision to move, although you have to put up with the ignoramuses constantly talking (shouting) whilst the bands are on stage.

Blood Red Saints Live 1

Having now had the opportunity to listen to the new album several times, it must have been a difficult decision for the band to decide which songs to showcase and which to omit from tonight's set. Wisely, they interspersed new songs with material from their popular debut 'Speedway'.

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'Another Freak' opened the set and it's probably the heaviest song the Saints have written to date. The sound is bolstered even further by the addition of second guitarist Neil Hibbs (ex-Shy) who integrated seamlessly with the other founding members, guitarist Lee Revill and bassist Rob Naylor, plus Naylor's ex-Angels Or Kings band-mate Andy Chimney on drums; the latter two added some sartorial elegance to the band.

'Mercy' returned to familiar territory before the excellent 'Turn On The Night' (written by Trixter's Steve Brown) and 'Wake Up' from the new album. One of the highlights from the debut, 'Dangerous', preceded the awesome title-track 'Love Hate Conspiracies'. Jon Cudrow joined the band on stage for the piano intro to the ballad 'Arms Wide Open' which Godfrey took every opportunity to tell the audience he'd written all by himself.

Blood Red Saints Live 2

There was even time for a short, heart-felt rendition of Mr. Big's 'To Be With You' in recognition of the sad and untimely passing of Pat Torpey. The last of the new songs were 'Something In Your Kiss' and 'Live And Die', before a rip-roaring finale of recognisable songs from 2016's 'Speedway' – 'Better Days', 'Best Of Me' and finally 'Kickin' Up Dust'. Fortunately, the band did not go through with the pointless charade of leaving the stage and returning for the encore.

Blood Red Saints Live 3

Those in attendance won't need any further convincing of the pedigree of Blood Red Saints and should love the new album. In a week where there was a news article about the escalating rise in ticket prices, how good was it for Blood Red Saints to only charge £8.00 for a high-class three band line-up? A cracking evening and I look forward to doing it all again at HRH-AOR in North Wales next month.

Review and photos by Mark Donnelly

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