All the gigs I’ve been to in 2018 met their Waterloo at the Waterloo Music Bar on Friday 22nd December 2018, a date that will be forever etched in my memory as this little gem of a venue was packed to the rafters with four sets of high octane rock and roll from Takeaway Thieves, Stevie R.Pearce And The Hooligans, The Senton Bombs and the headliners Massive Wagons.
Openers Takeaway Thieves provided an eight track menu that whetted our appetites with the not so festively titled ‘I Wish You Were Dead’. I’ve not seen them play since June and their promise then has been fulfilled as they launched into it with glee. Lead singer Peter McLoughlin rasps away as though he had been chewing razor blades as the rest of the band locked in behind him. A heads up must be given to the sound engineer who provided an excellent mix for every band! The gutter level sleaze grooves for ‘Stardust’ were followed by ‘Hot Cat’ the first of a few new songs aired as a ‘You Could Be Mine’ like wiry intro was followed by an unrelenting floor shaking pound from new drummer Max Yates and lead guitarist Ben Gibson shone during his solo. ‘Big Mistake’ was far from one with its catchy barroom boogie as the riffathon ‘Slippin And Slidin’ saw some lung busting band backing vocals and an over the top outro guitar solo. ‘Honky Tonk’, another newbie raised the roof with a punk rock sneer running through it and the only word I wrote for ‘This Is Rock And Roll’ was “Boom!” due to it’s needle in the red delivery. A raucous encore of ‘Merry Xmas Everybody’ left us with mile wide smiles as Massive Wagons joined them onstage with guitarists Stephen Holl and Adam Thistlethwaite riffing away, Barry Mills pogoing whilst sharing lead vocals and bizarrely Alex Thistlethwaite on half tambourine!
Rather unprofessionally not checking stage times, I was at the bar when the tongue twistingly titled Stevie R. Pearce And The Hooligans hit the stage. A new band to me and my ears were telling me that the sound from the stage was like a cross between Johnny Cash and Motorhead hammering out ‘Overkill’ When I got back and buying their debut album after their set, realised it was a high octane take on ‘Folsom Prison Blues’ and they continued to leave me breathless for the rest of their set with a display of sheer bravado. ‘Bad Day’ hit hard with earworm riffing and lots of party starting “Whoa oh oh’s”. They kept up the quality with the knock out dynamics of ‘Going Down’ and they put the power in power ballad for ‘You’ and it was a nice touch with Stevie giving a shout out to Waterloo landlord Ian Fletcher with “This is all because of you Ian”. The Herculean main riff of ‘Nobody Loves You’ and the drum driven outro of ‘Same Old Story’ from Dave Sanders must have put the recent renovations to the venue floor to the test and they left us with the instantly memorable hooks and choruses of ‘Set My Soul On Fire’ and the aptly named ‘Hooligan’ with its melody and muscle.
One of my most eagerly awaited sets came from local boys The Senton Bombs as I was looking forward to hearing new songs from latest album Outsiders and my appetite was whetted by a quartet from that which began their set. ‘Who We Are’ was a chest beating statement of intent especially from the transformation of drummer Scott Mason from Clark Kent to Superman with a non stop battery whilst furiously headbanging! The title track with its spaghetti western vibe, ‘Reckless Youth’ was a paean to how they formed and got to where they are to this day and pick of the bunch was the foot to the floor punkish ‘Violet Black’. Their eight song set flew by way too quickly as older standards consisted of a face melting ‘Medusa’, my perennial song ‘Darkest Horse’ with THAT solo ripped out by lead guitarist Johnny Gibbons, a rail rattling ‘Train Wreck’ and the metronomic stomp of ‘Nothing Quite Like This’.
I’ve seen some intense sets from Massive Wagons over the years but how can you describe this nineteen song marathon in that heat? It was like a sauna in the crowd with no room to move so it must have been worse under the stage lighting especially for the ball of energy Barry Mills. ‘All Men Play On Ten’ was once proclaimed by Manowar but the Wagons usurped this with seismic set opener ‘Rising Tides’ the first of many oldies played and the chart worrying Full Nelson album featured prominently to. Highlights were many but standouts were a pulsating ‘Back To The Stack’ with the “You know you know you know” refrain belted back to them by the crowd. A bouncy ‘Ratio’ preceded a poignant but powerful ‘Northern Boy’. A guest vocal from Lauren Hutchinson beefed up ‘Shit, Sweat, Death’ and a vitriolic ‘Hate Me’ set the scene for the driving riffing of ‘Ballad Of Verdun Hayes’. ‘Scorpion’ was the second of two new songs introduced as it “Didn’t make it on the album” as did the other being ‘Lobotomy Smile’ played earlier. A blink and you’d miss it ‘China Plates’ and the glorious melodies of ‘Under No Illusion’ saw us in fine voice once again. Fists were in the air for the choruses of ‘Fee Fi Fo Fum’ and they returned covered in sweat for a one two finale of ‘Billy Balloon Head’ and my set highlight ‘Red Dress’ which just about finished what was left of my voice after the best Christmas party EVER!
Thanks go to Simon Dunkerley for his photos.