Stolen Earth

Post Office Club, York

17 September 2011

It's rare that I go to see a brand new band "on spec". You never really know what to expect, and I value live gigs too much to risk seeing a bad one.

For this new band, though, I had a high degree of confidence in the people involved, having seen four of them in previous bands over the last few years. So Stolen Earth should be brilliant, right?

But — I have to be honest — the gig wasn't as good as it should have been. I think they were let down horribly by the sound mix. A lot of the time, I couldn't tell they had a keyboard player (his solo spots came through loud and clear and sounded great, but he was swamped when the rest of the band was playing), and the vocals were particularly bad — you could hear the strength and quality of Heidi's voice, but it was often indistinct to the point that I couldn't easily pick out the lyrics. Adam's guitar audibility was hit-and-miss. And that's not even mentioning the occasional feedback squeals from somewhere.

With a band I knew better, I would shrug my shoulders and chalk it up to experience. You can pick favourite songs out of a bad mix anyway, your brain filling in the missing bits. But with a band playing so much new material, I think it's vital to clearly hear it, and that just wasn't happening.

Ok, that had to be said, but I don't want it to give anybody the wrong idea about the band itself. Because, sound quality notwithstanding, they delivered a great show. All five members of the band are superb musicians, they shine individually and as a band, really gelling well together on stage, and they have a range of very strong material. Two songs I had heard them play with Breathing Space (Unnatural Disaster and... another one, one of Adam's songs I think) were instantly recognisable. That's two songs I have heard them play once, almost a year ago, instantly recognisable despite the mushy sound mix. I don't know about you, but to me that indicates a great song.

And I think it's telling that for a band playing their first headlining gig, with no recorded albums, they had enough material — and the confidence in that material — to fill almost an hour and a half with self-penned songs. (There were two covers to round out the 90 minutes: Hotel California and Wish You Were Here. Now there's two songs you won't often see mentioned in the same sentence!)

For people who knew Breathing Space, you need to know that this is not the same band. They don't go for the big melodic hooks that Breathing Space specialised in, and they're a lot heavier in approach. But they're a proper rock band and should really appeal to any proper rock fans, whether you liked Breathing Space or not.

So, let's sum up: great musicians, great band, great music, and despite the sound problems, I really enjoyed the gig. It was definitely worth the round trip (home after 2am!) and on the strength of last night the band is already firmly on my "must see" list.

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