Battle of the Bands Gibraltar at The Rock on the Rock Judges Review:
There was a very laid back feel at the start of the Gibraltar Battle of the Bands 2018 and honoured to be asked to be a judge, I, and I am pretty sure no one else had an idea of what a treat we had in store.
This article is taken from the notes I made of the bands and songs as they performed which I used for my scoring, they are my opinions alone and I hope that they are useful to the bands who performed and give you a good synopsis of the night.
Crimson Clover: Saturnalia
Starting with this song, the style of the lead guitar and group immediately gave me that Oasis –Ish feel. Sounding familiar and enjoyable and grooving all the way to the outro which had a really good feeling harmony.
Crimson Clover: Meet me at the corner
With their absolutely too cool for school front man Mark Muscat, whose laid-back whimsical style somehow didn't stop him from translating his excitement at being there. Reading the lyrics before the show had started I didn't know how powerful the chorus was until he sang it. It really was the delivery that made it work. Again a very familiar sounding track but as I have said before that isn’t always a bad thing, and in this case I would call this reminiscent but original.
By the end of the song I was thinking that is really was a potential pop hit. As I said the delivery makes the very simple lyrics work.
Crimson Clover: Are you gonna be my mine
Telling us it was a new song only a few weeks old, (as if we were going to fall for that one LOL!!!).
Starting with that great Oasis feel and chord progression Crimson Clover had now established themselves to me as the kings of the rock pop. This group simply make great Brit pop songs, this particular song had a great chorus and a great feel that allowed the drums to make their presence felt, very 60s and very enjoyable.
My sick pocket: Mouth of madness
Setting down a heavy Red hot chilli peppers / Limp Biscuit vibe My sick Pocket wasted no time in getting down to jamming.
Good songs and great grooves but my initial attention was drawn to the incredible performance of the drummer who mouthed is beats along his playing creating an awesome performance spectacle, making the title of this song the mouth of madness rather applicable I thought.
My sick pocket: Falling
Great looking band I thought and just like Crimson clover understanding how well the image should fit with their music. I enjoyed the chorus with its very nice funky drop and the nice bit of jamming between the lead vocalist/Bass player and guitarist on the outro.
My sick pocket: Bubble
Having a bass player go off in the intro was a great idea with the lead bringing up the vibe with the wah wah. I really liked this song but one thing I realised was that the bulk of the vocalist’s delivery stayed at the same level with very few highs and lows or cadences and the transition from the verse to chorus felt like a drop rather than a lift. Still I could watch the drummer all day; his style is for me performance art by Daniel Ghio’s Bass playing.
Again a Red hot chilli pepper feel but had a great rock funk vibe and by the end it was very very engaging. My sick pocket got my head bobbing by the end, it took a while but they got me there.
U turn: My way
Straight into heavy metal with no messing around, U turns vocalists is very clear with his vocals reminding a little of Michael Stripe. The song came with a competent chorus that could easily translate to stadium rock very competent song and actually very catchy as I heard the lyrics of this song in my head after it ended
U turn: I will cross this river
Again with the standard rock fare and another stadium rock chorus this song had a great drum line but left me be conflicted because I kind of liked it but I kind of didn’t.
The haunting guitar feedback line was one of the things that I did like. It was a very competent song maybe just not my kind of thing although I was impressed with the killer guitar line in the middle 8.
It was at this point I did start to realise that as a group, they all performed like separate entities and at no point did they ever gel as a group onstage or interact.
When I made this realisation I did I was not aware of how units of how poignant it would be with regards to what was to come.
U Turn: You got giving up
Another competent song but the chorus didn't work for me. I got more into it by the second half of the song which was more exciting.
And just as I was getting into the, it slowed down again for a stadium rock crowd clap.
But the crowd definitely disagreed with me on this one as they made it very clear how much they liked personally I like the middle bit took too long to get there for me.
I know that I have not mentioned the fact that this band lyrically, wear its Christianity on its sleeve because other than the fact that it makes them write some great songs it didn’t really matter to me. But like 3 days to Rise did in previous battle of the bands and I hope that they use this experience to come back better and stronger next year.
Jacver: Oh well be ok
First group using keyboard on stage even if it sounded a bit Bontempi, Jacver opened with a good quality ballad with Harry Dennis putting more energy into his delivery while sitting on a chair than all of the other previous acts had done standing playing guitar. Given a chorus with lots of emotion they delivered a very engaging ballad with Harry's gravelly voice cutting with emotion whilst he grabbed the mic and gave a delivery full of facial expression which captivated all of our attentions.
Jacver: The balcony
Starting the great groove reminiscent again of The Chilli Peppers or Rage against the machine, Jacver moved into a whole lot of jamming on stage again selling this great song with stage energy and effectively making punch above its weight.
I was thinking this song would kill a stadium right now and that effect was not lost in a crowd.
One of the few acts who actually engaged with the crowd and then gave us the stage jam that we had been waiting for. This is what My Sick Pockets and Crimson Clover had hinted to, but Jacver had just delivered
Jacver: Far from lights
Jamming from the very first beat and performing like they meant it, with Daniel Ghio doing is visual poetry whilst playing the Bass, this was not my favourite song but the performance totally carried it. It reminded me of something I learned in a business course the quote being ‘sales is a transfer of enthusiasm’ and they sold this song 100%.
Asking audience to get engaged with a hand clap, front man Harry Dennis dropped right into a rap with the rhythm guitar literally swinging in the wind whilst the other guitarist was physically jumping to the beat, absolutely killer performance and I started to realise that this band could sell anything
Then something happened that changed all
Full Colour Panda: I Refuse
Believe it or not I did like the first song from this group. It’s a very good competent song, but it just didn’t do anything for me.
What I did notice was that his group had the most awesome image of any of the groups are taking the stage they literally looked like Damon Alban’s, Gorillas but the live version.
With such distinctive shapes sizes and characters (the lead vocalist looked like a WWE Wrestler, lead guitarist who looked so familiar whilst looking like a character from the X-Men, a bearded and Rock star bass player and Drummer looking like a Marvel Characters, This group looked so cool and more importantly they just looked so distinctive and different.
I literally could see the toys of the group being made with different kids choosing a character they like the most and wanted to play with, (this group is an A&R/ Marketing man's dream.
Other than that all I noted from the first song with a very powerful delivery and the fact that the song had a pretty good message about overcoming addiction.
Full Colour Panda: Alone
Then came second song started and was delivered with so much feeling that I started to get it.
And what a great chorus, this song has such a great feel I instantly thought I could hear this on the radio. And then it dropped into a killer middle eight which introduced the amazing interaction of the guys on stage jumping around like crazy Muppets and finally been joined by the lead whilst he put down a killer line.
As they head into the outro, this group had me doing a killer head nod, as they had now already delivered the best song of the night
Full Colour Panda: Punk Theatre
So by now I had been sold on this band but I still was expecting what was to come.
Frankly these guys were fucking awesome with Alejando playing and jumping around like he was on steroids, front man Samuel looking like Johnny Bravo from the cartoon shouting into the mic and shredding a guitar and the Bass player slapping at base and moving in union like a friendly Disney character, these guys not only looked great, they sounded great, and performed even better.
Their stage performance was 2nd to none and while Jacver had brought a great stage show these guys are brought incredible one.
Little touches like the Bass players comic bump into the lead vocalist and then jumping back and jamming together, all so well thought out and so well presented and all backed by absolutely incredible music.
This particular song was probably the best song of the night. When I was reading the lyrics before the event I remembered thinking that they were very funny and I actually love the thought of this musician whose hallucinating Dave Grohl rolling his head screaming at him to rock harder, whilst other people are telling him to get a job conform.
Fabulous idea for a song and these guys rocked unlike any of the other bands with nobody stuck to their side of the stage, it is amazing they didn’t get their wires crossed, literally.
Samuel, the lead singer interacted with the crowd asking them to clap and jump and then just when fully couldn't get any better they dropped into a mash up of ‘Stop the rock’ by Apollo 440 getting everyone involved before returning to their own songs killer chorus and again giving me the vision of Dave Grohl screaming rock harder you have to rock harder!!!!!!!
By the time they finished what up until that point had been a close contest really wasn't close any more and the crowd went wild showing the clear winners
As always these are just my observations and thoughts. When I look back at my scoring I actually had FCP and Jacver equal although that was mainly down to the fact that I didn’t like FCP’s 1st song whereas for me Jacver were consistent all the way through.
But what I will say is that all of the contestants were fantastic, they all came with brilliant attitudes, they all came with something unique and special and I truly believe everybody on stage that night has the ability to carve a great career for themselves in music. Thank you to Allan, Gina, Kim and Evan from the Rock on the Rock Crew for inviting me and taking care of me and treating me so well, it was a blast and a blessing.