Before the show there is a great sense of atmosphere in the air. Three Yorkshire acts have come together tonight to raise money for York Boxing Club and ‘Off The Hook’ rehearsal rooms, not only that but they have come here to play some anthemic, loud and brash classic rock music. Despite the cold weather more than a few dedicated rockers have ventured out to The Duchess and it’s great to see – to the bands and people in attendance it’s obvious that York’s alternative and rock scene is thriving as we head into 2010.
First off, we have York local lads Leap Of Faith who rely on a hefty mix of influences. Drawing from the progressive power of Tool and the balls-out metal onslaught of Metallica on their ferocious material, the band hook the interest of the dedicated local crowd tonight. This type of live energy is rarely exposed on the local scene and the group appear to have worked hard over their two-year history to produce a catalogue of affecting classic-prog metal. ‘Don’t Look Down’ is our standout of the night – this one features some seriously tasty riffs, uplifting melodies and jackhammer drum work akin to fellow York natives Mantra. Leap Of Faith make really rough and raw, dirty metal music that’ll surprise you with its diversity and strength – this band are aching to be introduced to bigger stages and we look forward to seeing more from them in 2010.
Soul Circus unleash stadium-sized brooding indie anthems that take inspiration from The Pixies and The Stone Roses via Jimmy Eat World. On their standout track ‘I Still Believe’ vocalist Lloyd Bradley’s hypnotic tones crash against strong beats and smooth cascading riffs to create an accessible and totally genre-spanning tune. Other particularly positive offerings include ‘Fire’ and ‘Never Forget’ – these tracks mix the emotive style of The Smiths with The Arctic Monkey’s raw commercial appeal. Indeed, the band seem to take inspiration from a variety of sources including those pop-rock darlings Razorlight, but honestly, this five-piece blow Johnny Borrell and co. out of the water. Performance-wise the group come across like a punkier version of The Killers – there’s buckets of energy on offer here and each member of the band seems to relish the space they are given, making the most of it to entertain the crowd who are suitably warmed up and ready to dance following Leap Of Faith’s opening. We won’t be surprised if Soul Circus are impressing festival crowds in the late summer of next year with a sound that draws from credible influences but also packs in enough originality to justify the solid reputation that this lot have been developing locally and nationally.
The headlining band Morpheus Rising immediately evoke with their smashing beats and decadent riffage following a suitably epic intro. As is the theme of the evening, this band are all about stadium-baiting rock music drawing from legendary influences like The Cult and Iron Maiden. On ‘Save The Day’ the band pour all of themselves into the song and demonstrate a real emotion, intensity and grit that is rare within the contemporary rock scene on a national scale, nevermind locally.
‘Brave New World’ is another great standout of the set and it incorporates a touch of AC/DC at their most raw and relevant alongside some Saxon-style explosive guitar rhythms. Meanwhile, ‘Fighting Man’ is truly epic classic rock that if given the chance could really see MR challenging peers like Iron Maiden and The Mission on an international stage. With world-beating material like ‘Lord Of The North’ and ‘Quench Your Thirst’ in their back-catalogue Morpheus Rising should be celebrated as proud representatives of the classic rock genre in York. Indeed, they are one of the city’s standout groups in terms of their live performance and the desire that they put across to the audience is most admirable.
We look forward to seeing more from this lot in the New Year as they work hard to resurrect NWOBHM (New Wave Of British Heavy Metal) music without using tired clichés and sticking to any particular blueprint. Morpheus play the closest thing to real and proper classic metal – so, come get some!
For more information visit the official Morpheus Rising MySpace.
* Leap Of Faith Image: Rob Scott