A Plastic Rose, The Good Fight, Pocket Promise, Kasper Rosa
Kasper Rosa kicked off the night with a set of instrumental rock bordering on metal. An already well-filled Empire crowd responded well to the four-piece hurling themselves around the stage in the throes of their performance, but the absence of a singer seemed to throw some. However it didn't take away from their music which, despite the lack of vocals, was emotive and thought provoking in its own right.
Onslaughts of guitars and drums were interwoven with near serenity as Kasper Rosa swept the crowd into their wake in a thoroughly enjoyable performance.
No Pocket Promise gig has ever been, or will be, the same as the last. This time the four lads, now old hands on the local circuit, incorporated a three-man drum solo into an already stunning set delivered with the confidence of professionals. The multi-instrumentalists have an infinite arsenal of sounds and combinations, managing to create calming piano led ambience or guitar and drum driven chaos at the click of a finger. Established favourite 'Who Burnt the Roller Disco' was accompanied by newer material including the infectious 'Juno' as the band seem to drift towards a dancier, more upbeat style than their 'Waving at Strangers' EP.
Co-headliners The Good Fight blew a packed Empire away with an excellent collection of songs both brand new and from their recent EP. Delicate vocals are cushioned around the catchiest of riffs and rhythms to ensnare anybody within earshot. Front-man Ben has an innocence onstage endearing him to all who watch, you cannot help but love this band. Without being too commercial this is a band who have managed to generate a great crowd of loyal fans singing back every word and bouncing to every beat. Highlights are 'Hats and Sticks' performed with an array of musicians borrowed from other bands and anthemic single 'Kick Start.'
As if The Good Fight weren't enough, no sooner had the dust settled than A Plastic Rose hit the stage. It didn't take much persuasion to get the crowd on their feet as Gerry Norman and co controlled the crowd without having to try. Hands clapped, feet stomped and voices roared along to well known songs like 'Kids Don't Behave Like This' and 'All You Know And Love Will Die.' With a much more abrasive set than the two bands previous, A Plastic Rose were about as subtle as a brick to the head, but no brick ever felt as good as this one. Norman and Mc Hugh were top showmen on top form and new single 'Colour Blue' sent their fans into hysterics. Naturally, no gig is complete without ten loons plus the band on stage. This one lived up to and surpassed all expectations.
Photo by Graham Smith