Five hours…..Five fecking hours. It’s a long way to London. When I go there, it has to be for something special. I’ll be honest, I can’t think of anything more special than going to watch Masters of Reality perform their only 2015 UK show (so far). I have been a fan of this band since it’s inception back in the 80′s but have never managed to catch them live. There was nothing going to stand in my way this time round, not even a five hour trip to our overpriced, overcrowded and overrated capital.
The venue itself is a great place to hold a gig of this size. High ceilings, two tiered, with the bar at the back, away from the commotion at the stage end. Security were friendly and helpful and the bar staff, very friendly. The place filled up fairly quickly too, which assured a decent audience for the first act, Hyena, from Telford. These guys make a cool racket. Shades of grunge but with a contemporary twist, which was well appreciated by the 50% capacity who watched. They look young and fresh faced, and cared not a jot about stagecraft and image, but they have some decent tunes, a couple of which really stand out. One to watch for sure.
Next up, and with a pretty much capacity audience at their behest, came Tax the Heat. I have seen these guys once before supporting The Cadillac Three, and they hit the mark straight away. Even though you may not know the song, there is something very familiar about their melodies and harmonies, and it is contagious, very, very contagious. Future hit after future hit is played to a very enthusiastic crowd. Songs like ‘Caroline’ and ‘Fed to the Lions’ deserve to be played often and loudly. There are hooks galore, and chanty choruses to get you moving, all delivered in a polished, professional manner by the boys, that you could be forgiven for thinking they were the head-liners with a 30 year career behind them. I know Chris Goss thinks a lot of them and it’s easy to see why. He even joined them at one point, which sent the crowd into overdrive. We even had the opportunity to listen to a couple of new songs that the band were trying for the first time live, and I’m happy to report that they too felt instantly familiar and very catchy. I am really looking forward to the new C. Goss produced album, and will definitely catch them again when they support the release.
On to the highly anticipated main event. I always considered MoR as MY band. All my peers weren’t ‘into them’ so I claimed them for myself, and was very happy in my little desert rock bubble. It was a shock, and slightly dismaying therefore, to find 600 like-minded people in one place. I just wanted them all to go away so I could listen to my favourite band like I always had….alone. Despite my meek protestations, they stayed put. Luckily, Chris Goss has the stage presence and experience to make you think you are the only person in the room.
This band know what they are doing. They pummel their way through the back catalogue with a practised ease, and it was especially pleasing to hear songs you really wouldn’t expect the band to play. Chris did say that they may not get around to playing all the old favourites, but that just gives you an excuse to catch them next time they are out and about. To their credit though, they did play a lot of songs, and exceeded the curfew time by quite a margin. The rest of the band look and sound like they have been playing these songs for the same 30+ years that Chris has, such is the tightness of the performance. Why the fly?, complete with complex harmonies and repetitive riff sucks you in so completely that you feel like one of Paul Powell’s bass strings, resonating coolly along with the masterful guitar work. ‘Doraldina’s Prophecies’ sounded meaty and complete, and almost self indulgent in parts. In fact, quite a few songs veered into self indulgence, but due to the mastery (excuse the pun) of the performers, you welcomed it. Chris has the knack of playing something repetitive for exactly the right amount of time.
‘Third Man on the Moon’ sent the already frenzied crowd into overdrive in it’s appreciation. In truth it is a powerhouse of a pop song that demonstrates exactly what this band are all about. It is a master class in song writing. At least 2 songs from each album were played on the night, and at no point did it become dull.
The band finally left the stage but were roared back for a deserved encore. I said to my wife that if they play ‘Domino’ next, the roof would be torn off. I was right. The place went absolutely BESWICK. The mosh pit expanded by about 30 foot. And every member of that audience drowned out the vocals delivered by Mr Goss. It was a sight to behold, and will leave a lasting memory of a truly great performance, for all in attendance. I witnessed brilliance tonight. I just wish it’d taken place in the corner of my front room where it usually does. If I ever win the lottery, I will redefine what it means to be a ‘house band’.
Words and photography by Craig Carling