On the penultimate night of BlackWaters and Strange Bones co-headline tour, the two groups rocked an icy cold Steel City. With support from Bear Chest and Black Mamba Fever, this stacked show went a good way in proving that punk’s not dead – far from it, in fact.
The night got underway with the first support act, hometown boys Black Mamba Fever. Although seemingly not the most confident when talking to the crowd between songs, they were a completely different animal during them. None more so was this the case than for front man Louis Ashman, who became an unstoppable ball of human energy throughout songs, often ending up in a variety of places during their climax.
It’s really hard to take anything away from these guys: raucous, energetic and fun throughout. An impressive hometown showing which really did warm the crowd up, even despite the snow falling outside.
Second on the bill were Bear Chest – another band from here in the Steel City. This three piece really stood apart from the other three, with more of an old-school, heavy rock sound. The unadulterated, punchy riffs were a throwback to the 1970s, making it difficult to not draw comparisons to the likes of Black Sabbath. Their more serious demeanor on stage was in stark contrast to that of Black Mamba Fever, but it didn’t take away from their performance.
The trio put an grizzly, unflinching set which showcased not only their strengths but, more importantly, their potential.
First of the co-headliners to emerge on stage was the Blackpool rebels Strange Bones who knew exactly how to make a first impression. With their front man, Bob, clad in a t-shirt which read “Theresa is a terrorist” ushering the crowd forward through his megaphone, a tone was briskly set for what was to come.
Raw, unfiltered punk rock quickly followed. Within moments, the Strange Bones front man was in the crowd, belting out songs and trying to stoke an uprising against the Tories, the Queen and the establishment. This set was more than just a rude awakening for those sheepishly stood towards the back of the venue, it put anyone within the vicinity of The Leadmill on notice.
Regardless of your politics, it’s bands who have the same vigour as Strange Bones who are trying to pull rock’n’roll back to a time when politics was the norm for lyrical content. And whether you agree with it or not, it’s refreshing to see a band wear their heart on their sleeve and stand for something. Besides, the crowd at The Leadmill absolutely ate it up.
Lastly, top of the bill was BlackWaters. Pitched somewhere between Slaves and The Libertines, this young, Guildford-based quartet had a lot to live up to in following the carnage Strange Bones had just unleashed on the Steel City.
BlackWaters offered up an unrelenting, all-out assault, delivered with precision and passion to The Leadmill crowd. The band’s 1970s and 80s punk rock influence was clear from the off, but likewise was their own spin on the genre. It’s obvious that they’ve worked with Carl Barât of The Libertines, for example, but also that they aren’t afraid to experiment with different sounds.
Truth be told, I think their place on the bill did hurt them slightly. Strange Bones would have been a hard act to follow for almost anyone, especially when the crowd had heard three different bands by that point. But nevertheless, BlackWaters’ performance was bold and quite spectacular for such a young band.
Youth is clearly not a hindrance to BlackWaters, which only means they have time to keep developing and become something even greater than what they are now. Remember their name, you may be coming very familiar with them soon.
Words by Ryan Newsam