Concert Reviews

Airrace / Angelhouse Hot

Added by James Gaden     February 17, 2010    
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Airrace and Angelhouse, live at The Diamond, Sutton In Ashfield – 4th December 2009 (photo by Sue Ashcroft)

2009 saw a number of classic rock bands reforming; however none were as warranted as that of Airrace. In the short amount of time the band graced the scene they managed to produce what is now acknowledged as a classic hard rock album with ‘Shaft Of Light’. 25 years on since its initial release, it has finally been reissued by Rock Candy Records to the delight of both critics and fans.
Since the middle of the year the band played a number of British festivals where the old Airrace magic was still apparent. Tonight’s show was originally scheduled for earlier in the year, however due to circumstances beyond the band’s control the show had to be cancelled and despite being in the studio working on a new album, the band broke with recording to reschedule the show for tonight.
Opening tonight’s proceedings were Treatment, formerly known as God Sacks Man, and featuring Airrace driving force Laurie Mansworth’s son Danny on drums. A short but punchy set of four songs saw the band show off their new material and proved that they were a future force to be reckoned with.
Musically the band are a unique blend of 70’s classic rock with a contemporary punky edge, which is just as striking as their visual image and onstage presence. These guys are definitely one to watch.
Next up were local favourites Angel House, an in your face power trio delivering a blend of 80’s biker/hard rock. Having just signed a record deal with Escape Music, the band went on to prove the signing was well founded. The set comprised a number of old classics and new material. From the positive crowd reaction and cries for an encore, it will be down to the release of the new album to see if the band have got what it takes to venture to the next level. With the last notes of ‘New World’ resounding in the crowd’s ears, the atmosphere was set for Airrace to take the stage.
It’s obvious that the experience of their UK festivals and Thunder support slots served the band well, even in the more intimate surroundings of The Diamond. They took the stage to an enthusiastic reaction from the crowd and like the consummate professionals they are launched into the driving Zeppelin-esque opening riff to ‘Caught In The Game’. It is immediately apparent that the band love to play live, which exudes and enraptures the audience with the contagious spirit of their performance.
Vocalist Keith Murrell has a power and passion that belies his diminutive stature and his voice has a purity that has led to him being one of most in demand session vocalists in the world. However this would all be lost without the band’s lead guitarist and main songwriter Laurie Mansworth, the perfect foil to Keith’s vocals and in his own right an astounding rhythm and lead guitarist. Not to be forgotten would be Toby Sadler (ex-Samson, making it three founding members) who provides the atmospherics of each song through his tantalising manipulations of his ‘Roland’ ivories.
Next up are ‘Open Your Eyes’ and ‘Not Really Me’ which were perfect examples of two songs that on an album have slick FM radio productions that take on a whole new lease of life in a live setting. With the rhythm section of drummer Simon Dawson (who replaced Jason Bonham earlier this year), bassist David Boyce (ex Samson/Toby Jepson Band) and guitarist Dean Howard (Ian Gillan/Toby Jepson Band) providing a driving powerhouse, it gives the songs a new dynamic for the lead guitars, vocals and melodies to shine through.
The whole set including classics such as ‘First One Over The Line’ and ‘Promised To Call’ continues in this vein. A 21st century Airrace, more edgy than their recordings if the new songs ‘Wrong Way Out’ and ‘One Step Ahead’ are anything to go by, and it bodes very well for the band’s future, and more importantly their long overdue second album.
Sonia Waterfield

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