Rock Horn Events Launch Party in association with Tower Studios Pershore
Headline – The Mercy House
Support from – Touch, Adamantium, Fortress
Rock Horn Events are a fairly new event company working in partnership TBFM Online and this was their first event in Worcester.
Arrival during load in is always interesting, the usual scene of sound checks and bands setting up their equipment, all seemingly carried out with good humour and efficiency, it’s interesting to get a glimpse of this preparation as most fans only get to see the event once the stage is set. Cables and stage crew seemed to be all over the place but everyone seemed to know what they were doing, organised chaos to an outsider but the staff just took the whole thing in their stride.
The evening opened with ‘Touch’, this is a local (Evesham) based band who have been on a sabbatical for the best part of a year and have only just started performing at live events again. They took to the stage with a swagger and launched into “Big Bad Wolf”, a track that has been a favourite on TBFM Online over the last few months, with style. This is a young band that shows great maturity and even the loss of Tom’s Bass for part of the set (due to a loose speaker lead) did nothing to dent their performance. Look out for them again in November for the Rock Horn Events/Tower Studios Halloween Ball.
The second band Adamantium took to the stage with the crowd still buzzing from the previous bands set but this turned out to be the low point of the evening, it was a very lack lustre performance and the band looked very uncomfortable on the stage. I’m not sure if this was down to inexperience or a recent line up change but either way there were more people at the bar or outside smoking during this set than at any other point during the whole evening. There is certainly a good band in the making, the tracks themselves were good but they we just not executed well during the set.
Third band of the evening Fortress were up next, these guys stepped into the breach when Fury had to pull out and they were the band most familiar to local crowd. Straight out of the box these guys got the crowd pumped up. Opening with “Doom” and “Judgement” before a brief halt to the proceedings due to another issue with the Bass head, which was resolved by the venue owner (Brian Marr) bringing his own kit down for the band to use, the band assaulted the now sweaty headbanging crowd with a polished performance. By far the heaviest band of the evening, Fortress charged from one track to the next with little time for anyone to draw breath. The bands penultimate number, a cover of Judas Priests “Breaking the Law” had everyone cheering for more and the band were only to happy to give it to them with their closing number (and fan favourite) “The Bunker”.
And finally…. The Mercy House are not yet a household name but their fan base, and reputation are rapidly growing. I’ve heard they are “one of the best live bands on the UK circuit at the moment” and recent features in Classic Rock Magazine and Metal Hammer as well as a UK tour with Audrey Horn have exposed them to a much larger (and well deserved) audience.
Surprisingly most of the evening’s audience were still in attendance. It is not unusual these days for the headline band to perform to more venue staff than paying audience and by all accounts the previous evenings launch party in Nuneaton was a bit of a letdown as far as numbers were concerned.
The opening number was met with as much curiosity as genuine fan appreciation, with a few of the more boisterous members of the audience engaging in some light-hearted moshing at the front of the room but as the band went into their second track the room literally exploded, it didn’t matter that these were unfamiliar songs to the assembled crowd, this was a band that are not only comfortable with performing to an audience they excel at it.
The rhythm section of W.R on Bass and Nick on drums keep a relentless surgically precise beat, even if, in the opinion of Chris (Tower Studios) an excellent drummer in his own right, “the drummer’s mad !!!!” Track after track these two traded beat for beat without faltering, both totally in the zone.
The twin guitars of Danny and Dan again precise yet fluid add to the bands unique sound, hard, heavy, dirty but perfectly balanced, it is this sound that allows them to appeal to a very broad audience. Danny takes a relaxed half a step back to fill more of the rhythm guitarists role, with frequent visits to the front of the stage for lead breaks but don’t underestimate this position, in this band every members contribution is vital to their performance.
Dan, the bands primary lead guitarist is a different animal all together, the intensity of his playing is something to witness, I’m not sure if he even knows there are other performers on the stage with him, total focus from start to finish on every track, he wrenches sounds from his well worn guitar that few guitarist I’ve seen could even dream of. There is blood, sweat and I’m sure tears too, his hands are shredded from the constant abrasive action of slamming chord after painful chord, literally beating the notes from his battered axe.
Then there’s Drew, front man and lead vocalist with this dynamic band, his voice and the way he performs are pretty unique, his vocal range is immense and the way he grabbed the audience and held them in the palm of his hand throughout the set was beyond impressive. The effects of an 8 night run are there, you can see at times how deep he has had to dig to give tonight’s performance but this only serves to make it all the more astounding. From start to finish he is giving everything he had and more, by the second track in he has total control of those on the floor below him, or with him as he frequently jumps down from the stage to party with the now captivated crowd. It was painful to see the look on his face when the now baying crowd demanded an encore but there was no way he was going to let the audience down.
By the end of the set, tired, battered and bruised the band are spent, this has been way more than a 100% performance even the venue owner Brian, who has seen more than a fair few outstanding bands perform on his stage, is grinning like a Cheshire cat, The Mercy House didn’t just give a performance, they gave part of their soul to Worcester and the crowd knew it. Even after the set the band, rather than retire to the comfort of the “green room” stayed down with their new fans for a round of autographs, pictures and good natured banter. They have already said that they want to return later in the year and I certainly hope they do.
The fact that so many local musicians turned up to the event was amazing, I bumped into members of Fury, Prism, Evolution of Man, Rara & the Vine Project and even the “Godfather of Glam” himself Mr Rocky Shades all there to show their support. There were at least 4 other “free” gigs within walking distance of the venue and yet the crowd, while not at capacity, was still better than I’ve seen for some time.
The Marrs Bar itself is a great venue, the atmosphere was vibrant and everyone appeared to be having a good time. The staff and the beer were top drawer, it’s not the cheapest in the city but by no means expensive either, having spoken to the band after their set they couldn’t have praised their host Brian any further, he extended them every hospitality and even took time to jam with them in the “green room” before their set.
The quote of the evening has to go to one unknown member of the audience who was persuaded to stay in Worcester rather than go see a band over in Malvern “I didn’t know what to expect, I didn’t know who the headline band were, last month I had a pacemaker fitted and this was my first gig since the operation, I wasn’t even sure if I should be here. Tonight I’ve experienced pain, tears, panic and extreme joy, thanks to everyone who put this gig together; I will be back for the next one”