Live Review : The Burning Crows + B4time + Blood Moon @ The Tivoli, Buckley on October 4th

Let me tell you about the first time I encountered The Burning Crows. It was all the way back in 2012, at a Hard Rock Hell event in Pwlhelli. I walked into Stage 2 to find a band I’d never seen before on stage and literally stopped in my tracks. Mesmerised, mouth open, I watched this group of four young men weave an intricate and delicate mix of great music, good humour and fantastic hair and was instantly hooked. Grumpy Twat asked if I wanted to go and get a drink? I’m not moving. Go and see our friends? Nope, still not moving, I need to savour every note of this. So began a somewhat one-sided love affair that has persisted throughout the last seven years, culminating in tonight. When I first saw them, they had just released their first album, via pledge music before it all went to shit. They went on to crowdfund and release a further album, then a live one, all the while touring and having fun. Then suddenly in early 2017 real life stepped in. They never split up, they just stopped for a bit because other stuff got in the way. Since then, there have been a handful of shows each year that are part of the “for one night only” tour, and tonight is the latest in a not-long-enough line of special appearances. Who knows what the future will hold, but for now the boys are back in town so let’s get to it. But more of that later, let’s have a look at the support bands first, shall we?

The Tivoli has a habit of giving local bands a showcase as openers, which is a great move in my opinion. Tonight we start with Blood Moon, who give us a mix of covers and a handful of original songs. Their own stuff ranged from the jangly Beatles-inspired pop-rock of “Magic Of Your Mind” to the more punky and sharper “Save Yourself”. The choice of covers was similarly eclectic, featuring songs originally from the likes of Twisted Sister, Black Sabbath, The Ramones, The Beastie Boys, Motorhead and even our Lancastrian friends Massive Wagons. They implore the audience to get involved but it’s early, the crowd are sparse and despite some enthusiastic applause there is no dancing. They are trying so hard and they’re not a bad band at all. In a crowded pub, I can imagine them going down a storm but tonight here in the Tiv? It’s a little flat if I’m honest.

Not so for second band B4time though. I’ve seen them here before and found them to be a competent covers band who could perhaps think about some originals, so I’m pleased to see that they have done just that. Their own stuff is hard and heavy, very much inspired by Metallica I feel but with a fresh sound that makes it worth a listen. Their choice of covers is inspired by Metallica too, and includes two of the Big M’s songs plus Joe Walsh’s ‘Rocky Mountain Way’ played like Metallica might play it! They also do a cracking version of The Wildhearts’I Wanna Go (Where The People Go)’ and manage to get the harmony vocal intro spot on, so kudos for that! There’s also a version of ‘Anarchy In The UK’ because old punks never die, they just keep strapping on their bondage trousers and hitting small stages one more time ad infinitum. As a warm-up band, B4time are a great selection because they do just that, warm the crowd up. By the time they get to final song, a cover of ‘Whole Lotta Rosie’, there are people down on the floor and the ANGUS chants are heartfelt and (mostly!) in time to the music! I don’t think B4time are going to take the world by storm any time soon, but watching them is a pleasant enough way to spend 45 minutes of your life.

To The Burning Crows then. They open with the title track from the first album ‘Behind The Veil’ and as its melodic power chords swirl around the room, it’s like slipping on an old favourite pair of jeans. We all have those friends, don’t we, that we were once close to? Then life got in the way and although we keep in touch via Facebook and maybe the odd text or email we don’t see each other for such a long time. Then something happens to bring us into the same place at the same time and somehow there’s no awkwardness, we just pick up where we left off even though it was years ago? Well tonight that’s the set. These songs are old friends not recently revisited, and they are still the same. Still beautifully crafted perfectly executed slices of accessible rock goodness. Still startling in their prowess at making every bit of you tingle and move.

All The Way’ is next, with it’s bouncy frothy chorus, then ‘Say Goodbye To The Sunshine’ which is more bluesy, sleazy, slow and easy. ‘Slow Up, Get Down’ is harder and faster and fun, and ‘Little Bit More’ with its singalong chorus? Never mind a little bit, have it all, take it, there is no more to give. It’s all yours. There’s the funky groove of ‘The Queen’ and ‘So Long’ which goes back to the blues but kind of stomps on them at the same time. ‘Shine’ is a true classic with some amazing twin guitar sounds and a fab bass intro, while ‘She’s The Summertime’ is light, frothy and finely balanced between being a ballad and a rocker. It’s a frozen-berries-in-fizzy-wine kind of song and I love it. It segues straight into ‘Time’ and all too soon, we are singing along to ‘Feels Like Home’, an absolute anthem of a song with a fine singalong even from a sparse crowd. One more shot of whisky, one more shot of wine….. one more night, and what a night it was. Let’s hope there’s another night soon, because when you find such a good thing, once is never enough. Is it?

Words and photography by Jo Crosby