Spires were the band we were looking for, Mark has discovered they were playing and decided to give them a listen to, and soon after bought their excellent album (and t-shirt), Spiral of Ascension. I would personally say that Spires are the bastard love child of Mastadon and Opeth...but I don't want to belittle their contribution to the Prog Metal scene, as their style is very distinctive. With melodic tunes, excellent singing and the occasional 'roar'! part, they are a very satisfying and diverting listen. Normally I'm not so keen in the roar parts of the song (I like to hear the lyrics so I can sing along!) in Spires' case the roar sections fit the music beautifully, rather than just being inserted because they are expected to be there.
All in all Spires are an intelligent, complex and exciting listen (buy! Buy! Buy now!). And we love 'em.
But first up were a few bands. Now normally we would avoid opening acts, but we arrived at 9...and we still had three bands to go. The first up was Indigo (I think) with a lot of 12 year olds on stage. Not sure how metal they were, but the lead singer had the voice of a 50-a-day 45 year old. Quite amazing. I didn't catch the second band's name (sorry!) but they were very good, and there was some fun banter. The next band was Incassum, with a very pretty lead singer (I want her body! Ok...not for anything dirty...I mean I would have loved to be that slim...ah well, too many years...too much chocolate) who was tiny, and had a quite startling voice. You can watch their video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0u8_uav6898
Then finally at 11:10pm, Spires. Hurrah! We moved further into the room as like a totally lazy sod I'd had a sit-down at the bar, so we wanted a better view. By this time I estimate there were perhaps three other people in the audience who weren't in a band that had played, what a shame, because we were in for a real treat.
They started with the amazing 'The Infinite Descent' which is just stunning and gorgeous. Then the lead singer, Paul Sadler, said that as there weren't too many people, they would go really proggy, and do their longest tracks. so we got to hear, live, Spiral of Ascension (my fave), then Broken Hourglass (Mark's fave).
My god were they good! Ok, so there wasn't too many people, but it didn't matter because the performance was just as good as I can imagine they would be to an audience of thousands. They were professional, sharp, and it contained as many layers as the CD, and was just as absorbing to listen to. If you want to get in on a band of the future, listen to these guys, because they deserve to be huge. We loved every minute.
Just before Broken Hourglass he thanked the audience for staying so late (some kids had left earlier, their loss!), then pointed at us, and said 'And don't think you two have gone unnoticed!'
Well, we both stared at each other, open-eyed. I know I got all hot, it was such a great thing to say! We both had a little smile, then they launched into the next song.
Once it was over I wanted to get a t-shirt, so we hung around. We spoke to the lead singer of Incassum for a while (who's lovely, it was worth chatting to her), then spoke to the manager to get a t-shirt. He went out of his way to help us despite the late hour (I'm wearing the t-shirt now, it fits perfectly, thanks!). He thanked us again, and we shook hands with the bass player, Alex Jolley, and the drummer, Chris Barnard (Paul Sadler and Cuthbert were on stage packing up) and they both thanked us again. I regret now not getting their autographs. Darn.
Then it was home, and a nice cup-of-tea!
I think it was such a shame there was a poor turn out, because honestly all the bands were great, but I have to say that Spires were just a miracle. We enjoyed every note, the only shame being that the set was shorter than we would have liked (nothing short of the full album would have been long enough!) but having said that we left satisfied and on a high.
Mark said that in 20 (cough) + years of gigging, it was the first acknowledgement from the stage he had ever had!
So if you want to see a band before they get too big to be approachable, go see this amazing band now, because I don't think they'll be in small venues for much longer.
Please, please support this band, as they are brilliant!
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