A Local Rock Night

Ironheart + Predatür + School For The Gifted + Exit 10
Rivermead, Reading - 20 February 2004

Friday the 20th of February 2004 is a date that people need to record in their calendars, draw on their walls, and etch into their eyelids.  It was the day that metal in its natural state returned to Reading.  As a part of an Evening Post promoted charity evening, benefiting the Battle Hospital Cardiac Fund and Cancer Research, four metal bands descended on Reading's Rivermead complex, and boy, were they ready to rock!

The night started early to allow young kids to come and still be home for bedtime, and kicked off with a new breed of metal, courtesy of Exit Ten.  The band put on an excellent show, really taking well to the large stage and even larger crowd!  Playing a great mix of old and new style metal, they really got the growing crowd moving.  Musically, the band are superb, with excellent vocals, well thought out songs, and the kind of confidence that can help carry a crowd along.  My only downside would be that they need to watch out for some of the excessively "Busted"-style synchronised guitar moves!  Great singer, great guitarists (I loved the clean tapped intro to one of the songs - showed that tapping can be a force for good) and overall were a fab way to start the night.

Next up were School For The Gifted, who I've seen once before at the Rising Sun pub in Reading where I enjoyed them, but thought there was some kind of vital X-factor missing.  And there was - a f*cking huge stage!  Those boys were extraordinary on such a huge stage, and dammit, their new drummer can bang some pans!  As ever Farhan Khan on lead guitar showed himself to be a cracking guitarist, but to be honest, I preferred the playing of the Kerry King-look-a-like rhythm player who really drove all the songs forward in conjunction with The Path's meaty as hell bass.  And the singer's vocals really shone out - he's got a wonderful voice with an immense range that really lifts SFTG to the level that makes them an extremely special act to see!  They provided the perfect segway between new and old school metal, which was completed with the arrival of the next band, who coincided with the Rivermead filling to bursting point.

And that band were Predatür ... Well, what can I say... Just awesome.  Old school metal the way it's meant to be - mildly overdriven guitars, total clarity in the playing, outstanding vocals and a great performance.  Utterly brilliant stuff for anyone who's ever owned a Maiden or Priest album, and a shock to the system of anyone who thought no-one played this style of music any more.  There were some confused looking kids in the audience ("this isn't metal - where's the guy with the decks, and the rapper?") but hopefully they've learnt that distortion and dropped D tuned guitars isn't the answer to everything.  Oh, and for me, their lead guitarist was star of the night with some incredible solo stuff - but without just cranking up the distortion - just simple, fast, melodic genius.  A great performance from a band that were formed in the heady old days of 1976, and showed that maybe Pete Townshend was wrong to wish to die before he got old.

Headlining the gig were the newly reformed Ironheart, who had previously played at the Rivermead (with Predatür!) in October 1988!  A lot of the crowd were probably just twinkles in their parent's eye at that time, but it didn't stop them realising that they were witnessing something special.  Playing old school metal, Ironheart were also cracking, but after Predatür, some of the surprise at hearing such great music had gone, so while they received a great reception, the night probably belonged to Predatür.  It was another wonderful performance, particularly from their scary looking singer who stalked the stage like Death himself, and encouraged me to have a mosh, fall over, then just stand and watch true masters of their trade at work.  And masters they were.

Other than the bands, a special mention must go to the guys who put on the lightshow, Martin's Lights, who put everything into the gig and easily outshone the lights I saw at the Astoria when I went to a gig there the following night.  The perfect lightshow for a perfect night.

Overall, this is the kind of night that Reading needs more of - hundreds of people crowding out the Rivermead from all walks of life - kids, young adults, 20-40's, middle aged, OAPs, rugby teams, townies, losers, skinheads, beardy weirdies, and not a single spot of trouble, just everyone enjoying great music from some great acts.

Review by Paul C.
Photos by Keith Corcoran
Copyright www.josaka.com
23 February 2004  


Articles courtesy Reading Evening Post
(click for larger images - approx. 200K)