Now the opportunity to be in the intimate presence of the legendary Iron Maiden bassist Steve Harris as opposed to seeing him from the distance at some festival or arena show is not to be sniffed at, but sniff I did.
Despite him being one of the earliest influences to my own bass playing “career” all I had heard about this more hard rock orientated solo/side project of his, including from those who firmly like this sort of stuff, was that their album was terrible. Apparently it evolved slowly over time due to his day job commitments so perhaps that led to a bit of mishmash whole. Anyway, not enough for me to pay the ticket price for here, until I remembered I was a gentleman of the press and then the game was back on.
I determined not to listen to any of their recorded material in advance so that my virgin ears would be unsullied and unprejudiced and instead take it as it came in the live environment, so after a warmup/catch up in Spoons headed down to the venue.
Shockingly this was my first time to the Live Rooms despite it for the last couple of years being the closest prime site to me in the North West for touring bands, taking over the mantle from Wrexham Central Station.
After negotiating entry with somewhat of a relief we were straight in with The Raven Age (above) hitting us from an impressive sound system and a decent size stage, plus plenty of room to get up for a closer look too. Again, I knew nothing about them in advance but thought it was a solid enough mix of thundering contemporary metal riffing with more soaring singalong choruses, orchestrated by a singer who reminded me of an emo Eddie Izzard. What I’ve just discovered is that Steve’s son George plays in the band which is handy (his daughter has also followed a similar path/influence) but I definitely thought they had enough merit to carry off their presence on the stage without knowing that.
Ignorance again proved to be bliss for the main event, as from the first song I was wondering what everyone’s problem had been with British Lion, as this was great! Ok so maybe you still have to be a Maiden fan or a dad rocker but I am both so this was a marvellously satisfying surprise.
It seemed to me Steve was playing with exactly the same passion and skills as he does in Maiden, and his galloping bass tone overrode all, all good in my book! As well as mouthing along to the lyrics, machine-gunning the crowd, and generally having an energy level that put moderately younger men like myself to shame, the rhythms were great at hooking the crowd into the head banging riffs running though their songs, especially as the drummer was tightly keyed in to complement it.
Dual guitars provided some excellent harmonies and the vocalist had a classically strong power to him. He’d occasionally add an acoustic guitar for sections, and in the slower intros and breaks there was also more of the prog picking vibes, but these were brief before it would all kick into charging along again. New songs were aired and these were particularly storming, so maybe that bodes well/better for future releases.
They definitely put a lot of effort into what seemed a decent length set, an encore was delivered that included one that almost reminded me of a Thin Lizzy vibe, and they seemed genuinely pleased with the reaction from the crowd, which was deservedly warm, felt like a real success for the venue.
Had to head off but apparently Steve was available for signing all stuff for ages afterwards and fair play to him, still going strong and remains high in my respect. Not intending to buy that album though, but I must at least give it a listen some time