Gig review – GIRLSCHOOL, CRUCIFIED BARBARA, OLD JAMES & VELVET BLACK at Venue in Vancouver – May 29, 2015

The ‘Guilty As Sin’ tour hit Vancouver on Friday, May 29th, and it was a tremendous night of rock’n’roll for those of us in attendance at Venue on Granville Street. Four bands: Velvet Black from Montreal, Old James from Toronto, Crucified Barbara from Stockholm, Sweden; and of course, rock icons Girlschool from Britain – rocked the house from top to bottom.

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Velvet Black

Velvet Black took the stage around 6.30 and played a hot and bluesy rock’n’roll set that showcased the band’s great vocals, tight musical skills, and some impressive original tracks. Their riff-heavy ‘What’s Left To Say’ was a real treat, and the one-two punch of ‘We Could Be Together’ and ‘Bad Seeds’ were pure rock’n’roll goodness. They score definite bonus points for pulling off some sweet harmonica playing, and for doing a very tasty cover of ZZ Top’s ‘Sharp Dressed Man’.

This crew definitely impressed me, and I’ll be looking forward to hearing more music from them in the future!

Velvet Black on Facebook / Twitter

OldJames

Old James

Toronto rockers Old James tore into another kick-ass set after that. I reviewed the band’s excellent self-titled EP earlier this year, and they blew me away even more live: this band puts on a high-energy show, and they have some outstanding rock tunes to go with it.  Add a front-man with powerful vocals, and serious stage presence (and athletic skills!); a bluesy, funky undertow to their rock’n’roll, and riffs with heft and heat, and you’ve got a memorable show.

Tracks like ‘Spade’ and the stellar ‘Don’t Put It On Me’ that impressed me on the EP, were gloriously amplified on stage. The slow heat of “Every Man”, and a gutsy cover of Thin Lizzy’s ‘Cold Sweat’ (any band covering a Thin Lizzy song is gutsy in my book) that showed off some real swagger, made things even better. This band is fired up with some real talent and skill – give their EP a listen, and look out for these guys: they definitely have something special going on.

Old James on Facebook / Twitter / Bandcamp

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Crucified Barbara

Then it was time for Swedish hard rockers Crucified Barbara, a band I’ve been dying to see for years. And woooo boy, they did not disappoint. They unleashed an absolutely jaw-dropping set that featured older tracks, as well as new ones from their stunning 2014 release In The Red. It was a masterful, turbo-charged show of hard rock and heavy metal awesomeness. When the band tore into the fiery ‘To Kill A Man’ they just about knocked the breath out of me, and I hardly had time to catch it again after that. Floor-shaking, pedal-to-the-heavy-metal tracks like ‘Rock Me Like The Devil’, ‘Lunatic #1’, and the ridiculously catchy and bone-shaking ‘I Sell My Kids For Rock n Roll’ (a fabulous ‘f–k off’ to all the haters) just about blew the roof off Venue.

The band closed out the set with an unholy threesome of tunes that had the crowd jumping, and might have caused seismic alarms to go off around the world. A blistering version of ‘The Crucifier’ with Mia Coldheart absolutely on fire on stage, the irresistible ‘Electric Sky’ (one of my favourite tracks off their latest album and such a treat to hear live), and the massive-sounding ‘Into the Fire’, left the crowd wanting more.

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What a crew. From Ida Evileye rocking the bass, to Klara Force’s high-energy guitar, to Nikki Wicked’s insane drum skills… This band is on top of their game, wielding their considerable musical power with both skill and passion.

This was Crucified Barbara’s first visit to Vancouver, and I just hope they’ll be back soon!  They had the crowd in the palm of their hand, and judging by the response during and after the set, they picked up some new fans.

Crucified Barbara released their latest album In The Red last year. Read my (glowing) review of that release – which topped my list of favourite albums in 2014.

Crucified Barbara’s website / Facebook / Twitter

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Girlschool

The main attraction of the night, and the reason most of the crowd had come, was up next: British hard rock icons Girlschool. “Icons” might be an over-used term in the music world, but Girlschool definitely deserves the label: this band has been around since 1978, and have definitely made their mark on the world of rock’n’roll. You could feel the anticipation rippling through the crowd as the band took the stage, and when the band kicked things off the crowd really did go wild.

Girlschool played a hardrocking set that had the crowd all fired up from the first track to the last: mostly old tracks but some new ones in there as well. The new tracks, like the fiery rocker ‘Take It Like A Band’, pack just as much of a hard-rocking punch as their old stuff which bodes well for their upcoming new album.

Swagger, power, attitude, and tunes that got the crowd moving, singing along, and pumping their fists: this was an awesome show from Girlschool. Both Kim McAuliffe and Enid Williams had some outstanding moments on vocals – these ladies definitely still have the pipes! Lead guitarist Jackie Chambers is a force to be reckoned with, and drummer Denise Dufort was quite simply formidable. The riffs were heavy and crunchy enough to make the floor shake, and the band’s old tracks have lost none of their potency in the years since the band first made them famous.

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With easy-going stage banter, and the occasional ribbing and sideways nudges between band members as the set went on, this was a band that looked to be having a blast on stage. Every track was a power-pack and the classics just kept coming: ‘C’mon On Lets Go’, ‘Hit and Run’, ‘I Spy’, ‘The Revolution’, ‘Never Say Never’, ‘Emergency’ … The encore was the band’s first single ‘Take It All Away’, giving the crowd one last taste of that guitar action, terrific vocals, and thumping bass and drums… what a show! After seeing the band tear it up like this, I am definitely looking forward to the new album coming later this year.

Girlschool’s official website / Facebook Twitter

Do not miss this tour if you’re in the vicinity of one of the shows: nothing but fantastic rock from start to finish. Check out the rest of the North American tour-dates and go see it if you can.

My pictures of the night turned out to be mostly garbage, but I did get a short video of Girlschool on stage. Sound quality is not the best, but it gives a small taste of what the show was like.

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