The Alma Inn July Showcase 2019
The Alma Inn, Bolton
Review by Beth Jones
What is the best way to drown your sorrows about not being sat in a field listening to great bands with the best people? That’s easy – go and sit in a pub and listen to great bands with the best people instead! And that is exactly what we did on Saturday 20th July, by making a trek up to Bolton, to the Alma Inn for the Badgerfest Promotions / Alma Inn Presents July Showcase. It promised a cracking day of music, with some familiar names, and some that were new to us, and it didn’t disappoint!
We had never been to the much talked about Alma Inn before, so weren’t entirely sure what to expect. What we found was this: It is a cosy little venue, and really has the feel of a classic metal pub from the 80’s / 90’s, with some spectacular graffiti art in the beer garden, and interesting toilets! But the atmosphere was instantly warm, and the girl behind the bar, whose name I didn’t catch, was great!
Ninety Nine Mercies
First on the bill, and a new name to us, Ninety Nine Mercies kicked off the proceedings. Being the first band up is always a tough job, and their set was delayed by, and then hampered by a range of technical difficulties and sound issues that were beyond their control, so it was difficult really to get a good judgement of them. They were pretty solid, but had a few timing issues in places, but again this may be because they couldn’t really hear properly what each member was doing. I think I need to see them again to make a better judgement of them. They certainly gave it their all, which is always good to see at that time on a Saturday!
Fresh from their comeback show after a 6 year hiatus, the Severenth guys put on yet another stonking show here, and gained a whole pub full of new fans in the process! They are exciting to watch and musically they are spot on. Peet Bailey, as a front man, is brilliant. He can scream and do clean vocals with ease, and has a very expressive face, which makes the performance hypnotising to watch. The rest of the band are also not afraid of showing their spirit, and don’t hide in the background. Bass player, Ben Jones, provides some mighty powerful backing vocals, and this, combined with the heavy rhythms of Dave Roberts on drums, and some really technical guitar work from Adam Sidor and Jack Somers make for an all-round package that would not look out of place much higher up on a bill. I cannot wait to see these guys again very soon and would love to see them back on the festival circuit next year.
Black Sheets Of Rain
This band had actually recently done an EMQ’s for us, so it was nice to put faces to names and see what they were about. They were very different from what we had seen already today, in so much as they were more a classic hard rock band, so a lot lighter in style. They were very tight, and very good, but my one ask would be that they didn’t look quite so nervous on stage. They all looked slightly terrified, possibly because they were having to follow the Severenth performance we had just seen, but they had no reason to be, as they were very good, and we certainly enjoyed their set!
Lost In Lavender Town
In a showcase, you always like to see a bit of variety, and what better way to do that could there be than to chuck in an instrumental prog band, with three guitarists?! These guys were a bunch of insanely talented musicians who clearly live for noodling! They were like Pink Floyd after a marijuana binge, and it was incredibly relaxing! It was certainly music to chill out too!! I was however disappointed, as they had a brilliant ambient keyboard sound running through each track, but sadly no real life keyboard player, instead opting to use a backing track. Call me an old fuddy duddy if you like, but I do like live music to be 100% live, and if you are going to have keys as an integral part of your music, please use a real keyboard player!
Portrayal Of Ruinn
So, now we were all nicely mellow, it was time to get the shit beaten out of us, in a metal sense, by the insanely heavy Portrayal Of Ruinn. There are times when being a gig photographer can make you realise why the sofa and a nice cup of tea are so comforting – this was one of those times! Trying to take pictures when lots of big gents are erupting into pits in a space not much bigger than my living room is, err, interesting shall we say!! That aside, Portrayal Of Ruinn really know how to put on a great show, and delivered a punchy brand of melodic deathcore to the delighted crowd. Frontman Calvin Fayle has a terrifically manic look in his eyes when performing, and this captured the audience. Whilst vocally they are a little heavy for me, I really enjoyed their performance, and I didn’t die, so that’s a win in my book!
I saw Daybreaker opening last year’s Badgerfest, and was impressed, so I was looking forward to seeing them again today and was glad that Rick also got a chance to see them. Again, they put in a great performance, which produced another lively reaction from the crowd. Bass player Lynden Garrad has a hugely expressive face and looked like he was having a ball on stage, whilst front man Sam Higgins paced the performance area like a man possessed, delivering some hellish hardcore vocals that bang you right in the gut. They are fun to watch. I like them.
Kringer And The Battle Katz
Well! This performance was an experience. I want you to imagine The Sex Pistols, but with more musical skill, and heavier, having a crazed party following a month-long binge of mayhem and debauchery, and that kind of explains this performance! They describe themselves as Idiotcore, and are a mixture of punk, groove and deathcore, which bizarrely works pretty well! Even if you didn’t really like the music, it is impossible not to smile and get drawn in by their madcap insanity. They were perfect for this point in the day when us oldies are starting to flag a little – it peps you up and gives you a second wind! Bonkers. That is all!
We have seen these guys almost as many times as we have seen Lullaby For A Unicorn (and that is quite a few!!), but we never get tired of them. They are pure funky groove metal, and playing music is their life – this comes across in every show, and this one was no exception. It was hot, it was sweaty, but it was so much fun. Their all-round performance is always exceptionally tight, and the now packed out venue lapped it up. Their new drummer, Gary-Eric Evans, has really added a further depth to their music, that has enhanced an already superb product, which is brilliant. Add to this the fact that they are all truly lovely chaps, and it is easy to see how they have endeared themselves to so many audiences around the country and further afield.
Finishing off a great day of metal were Vice, a gang of three young and aspirational local lads, who you can’t help but love. Again, we have seen them a few times now, and absolutely loved their first album, “The First Chapter”, and are eagerly awaiting their second. They are superbly polished, and each show is measured and well thought out. They delivered a sterling performance again here, and it was great to see them getting such a warm reception from the crowd. We had to duck out a little before the end again, because we have no staying power! But we left a venue full of very happy people behind us, with big smiles on our faces.
Again, this was another brilliant day created by the seemingly unstoppable John Badger! There had been a few technical and sound issues towards the beginning of the day, which delayed things a little, but the people didn’t care, and it didn’t take away from the day at all in the end. It was great to see so many familiar and friendly faces, and to make some new acquaintances along the way. The metal scene in Manchester is alive and well and totally thriving, thanks to a host of brilliant underground bands, and the tireless work of people like John Badger, and James and Jayne at 0161 Manchester Underground Metal Community, and it really is a joy to be close enough, location wise, to be part of it.
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