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Woods Rock Reviews (co.uk)

Iconic Eye + Daylight Robbery + RKB @ The Station, Cannock – Saturday 25th February

posted 28 Feb 2017, 12:05 by Paul Woodward   [ updated 28 Feb 2017, 16:33 ]


Review by Woody

I’ve only been to The Station once before and as a new venue it’s still establishing itself on the gig circuit and I thought it was a decent enough small capacity venue on that first visit. I’ll always support local venues that support original bands and music and turn a blind eye to some minor faults if there is any. I explored the venue more tonight and I liked the fact the venue didn’t feel as claustrophobic as many small venues can do. Sound wise I was thoroughly impressed, even though we had three bands on, they were all given a top-quality sound something that is essential for melodic bands! So, they definitely have a good sound system in place at the venue and hats off to whoever was on the sound desk! There is a handful of shows coming up at the venue in the coming months that I am now even more excited about!

RKB took to the stage first and I’ve always had a soft spot for these guys, they play a style of music that really resonates with me. I was hit instantly by the fact they came across with a beefier and slightly heavier sound tonight, I know that is something that they have received praise for and while I agree it gives their songs a more impressive punch live, given my personal tastes I was more than happy with their softer pop rock approach. That said though it’s great to hear and see RKB garner some plaudits and win new fans.

Guitarist Paul Hennefer obviously revelled in the more guitar heavy sound they pushed tonight as it allowed him to showcase his guitar skills and his melodic licks in a more impactful way. Their new drummer Paul Medlock has quickly fitted in with the band and he provides a solid back beat, which pushes the bands heavier tone without been overpowering!

Sadly, the band recently parted ways with Keyboardist Emily Hinds, and their new Keyboardist is Luke Dalton – I think they struggled to find another Paul to round off the band! Considering he has only been with the band for a few weeks he did very well and I’m sure he’ll fit in nicely once he’s assimilated fully with the band – but tonight you could tell he was still finding his feet with these songs.

Vocalist Kim Izzard is always awesome, it might be her super power, she always puts on an entertaining and engaging performance, and that’s not as easy as you may think! Kim always seems to put on solid vocal performances as she is very good at controlling her voice and maintaining the melody without cracking. Her voice suits the pop edge of the band, soft tones filled with melody.

I’m quite familiar now with most of RKB’s songs, and the set was delivered precisely and effectively and they couldn’t fail to impress tonight’s crowd. For me one of the stand outs was the highly infectious ‘If You Want It’ which kept popping into my head throughout the night! We also got ‘Destiny’, crowd pleaser ‘So Far Away’, the blunt sing along’s of ‘Holding On’ and ‘One Way To Live’ and the always pleasurable ‘Goals In Life’. If you like AOR and Melodic Rock, it is imperative you give these guys a listen at your soonest convenience!

I’ve seen Daylight Robbery more times than I’ve had hot dinners and I love what these guys do. When they got together their intention was always to be a constant live presence and it was imperative that their songs came across well in that environment. These guys are flawless as a live act, they have honed their stage act and performances to perfection. It’s extremely rare you will hear a bad show from these guys, they have a wealth of experience as a live unit that always shines through. 

The clear sound tonight provided them with a perfect starting point for them to deliver their brand of heavy edged melodic rock. They maintained that solid heavy energy while never losing an ounce of melody in Tony Nicholl’s vocals or Mark Carleton’s melodic guitar riffs. The quality sound also meant David Billingham’s Keyboards never got lost in the mix – one of my pet hates! And something that is sadly very common in small venues.

I’ve reviewed these guys so frequently it’s hard not to sound like I’m repeating myself, but if anything, that just highlights what talented musicians and strong live performers these guys are. Tony owns the stage and his presence is always engaging as he delivers powerful vocals and unforgettable melodies. Guitarist Mark always seems to have an understated stage presence but on this small stage he did seem to come to the fore more so than he normally does. He might not be the most energetic performer but he really gets lost in playing and it’s so rare for him to miss a lick or note during his laid back almost relaxed stage presence. Bassist Colin Murdoch and their current drummer (whose name alludes me and I’m sure DR are trying to beat Spinal Tap’s record!) provide a solid backing and with such a reliable backing it must make the rest of the bands life’s a lot easier when performing live. As I’ve said before Keyboardist David Billingham is a fantastic addition to the band, he’s lively and entertaining which isn’t easy with an immobile instrument but his passion for the music and performing live shines through and adds to the energy of the band. 

Set list wise we get all their heavy hitters like ‘Samarah Never Sleeps’, ‘Red Lights’, ‘Hungry Years’, ‘Reunite’ and the prog edged ‘Paradise Is Lost’. What I love about DR though is they know how to build the atmosphere up so when they came to a close their set they have you totally hooked in and singing loudly along. Starting with ‘Shame On You’ which has a killer guitar riff delivered flawlessly by Carleton and an indelible chorus that Tony delivers with aplomb, then they kick straight into the rock anthem ‘Cross Your Heart’ which is undeniably captivating and involving. Then they close with the pure melodic rock beauty of ‘While You Were Sleeping’ which is quite simply one the greatest genre songs ever written – it would have made them superstars in 1988! 

Daylight Robbery always deliver the goods, if you’re yet to see them you really need to have a word with yourself and get that rectified. They gig regularly so you have no excuses!

As much as I love RKB and Daylight Robbery, tonight belonged to a rejuvenated and strengthened Iconic Eye who took the show to the next level. They have recently brought in a new vocalist in Jane Gillard and Guitarist Rob Mitchard and what these guys have brought to the band has elevated the band dramatically. Prior to tonight, I just though Iconic Eye were ok a nice enough band with one or two cool songs, but nothing to get excited about. My opinion has totally changed from this one live performance alone! They have definitely got my attention now!

No offence to Greg Dean the bands principal song writer and Commander in Chief of the Iconic Eye and the established hard hitting rhythm section of Gary Slater and Paul Emery. But Rob and Jane have helped boost a very average band into a seriously exciting and intriguing melodic rock act, many of the songs in tonight’s set had far greater impact on me than before and I enjoyed them when I didn’t previously. I have seen Iconic Eye live before and the improvement in the band is remarkable.

Although he doesn’t have much space to manoeuvre Guitarist Mitchard is full of youthful exuberance and his guitar skills are not just impressive but very exciting and engrossing. He manages to recreate these songs effortlessly but he also manages to pump some life into them giving some licks and riffs some real energy and also manages to captivate rather than allude the crowd’s attention as they have done in the past.

How the hell vocalist Jane Gillard has flown under my radar before now is beyond me – in fact I’m really pissed off about it! Based on the couple of re-recorded songs the band have recently released I knew they had enlisted a good singer, but tonight I was absolutely star struck by her in every possible way! Her stage presence is mesmerising, a totally natural and captivating vocalist. Vocally she’s a total powerhouse, with a fantastic range from soft delicate melodies to booming rock power. On a couple of occasions, I noticed a little bit of Ann Wilson in her vocal inflections but I hate comparing female vocalists to Heart as it feels so lazy! Gillard is a different type of vocalist but she does have that same sort of melodic power that you hear from Heart.

Jane exudes such an upbeat feeling from stage that it is really infectious and you can’t help but find yourself smiling! She’s a great performer who dances around the stage with energy and is extremely entertaining to watch, she engages the audience and draws you into the music effortlessly. I think the thing I liked most about her is her humour, it shone through frequently and that added to the feel-good ambience the band had created and it also humanises her and connects her with the audience, there’s no rock star ego or arrogance, which seems to be favoured by many rock stars!

Jane’s version of ‘Don’t Stop Me From Leaving’ was my highlight of their set, I think this one song alone showcased what an amazing band Iconic Eye can be, highly melodic and emotive. They kicked off the show with ‘Now That I’ve Found Love’ which is a great song to draw an audience in and capture the rooms attention. We also got ‘All She Needed’, ‘Better Place’, ‘Let It Rain’ and ‘I Can’t Feel It’. We also got a couple of cover’s with ‘In A Broken Dream’ which is a really hard song to do vocally but Jane managed to deliver it really well and they finished it with Jefferson Starship’s ‘Jane’.

Iconic Eye gave us a thoroughly entertaining set, which excited the audience and created a really positive and lively atmosphere. They have definitely made a new fan in me, I know they had a lot of established fans in the house which obviously helped boost the friendly atmosphere, but those who weren’t familiar will definitely be just as impressed as me! It’ll be interesting to hear how Iconic Eye continue to progress with their new band members, because they have the potential to be a pretty kick ass melodic rock band!

Glory Dayz Magazine

Independent Review

ICONIC EYE – LIVE AT THE RAILWAY VENUE, BOLTON – 18th JULY 2015

 Every once in a while a band appears out of nowhere and immediately ticks all the boxes in regards to musical style,  personal taste etc. I admit, it’s rare, but occasionally it really does happen. Well, earlier this year Midlands-based Iconic Eye became one such band, and I was lucky enough to be sent a digital copy of their debut album, ‘Hidden In Plain Sight’ to review for Fireworks magazine. My initial reaction was, ‘ Mmm …never heard of them ….. Oh well, I’ll give them a dutiful listen, and no doubt there will be something I like about the album.’ How wrong I was – it wasn’t just ‘something’, it was everything!! From the moment I pressed ‘play’ each song appeared like an old friend; sumptuous AOR with a Melodic Rock edginess to each and every track. I must admit I was waiting for the mid-album slump to arrive, or the ‘fillers’ tagged onto the end, but instead I was thoroughly entertained and enthralled from start to finish. Obviously my review reflected that, and the band members themselves showed their appreciation soon after. I must mention here, that before my review even went to print I had bought my own copy of HIPS (which the band happily signed for me), and rarely has it been away from either home stereo or blasting out in the car – It really is that good.

 Anyway, imagine my excitement and surprise when IE’s founder and chief songwriter, Greg Dean contacted me enquiring about our local Rock venue, the unique and magical‘Railway’ on the outskirts of Bolton. The band certainly didn’t intend letting the grass grow under their feet; they wanted to keep the momentum going by getting out and about, and taking their music to as many people as possible. So, after negotiations with Jon and Hilary (The Railway’s answer to Sonny and Cher) the gig was confirmed, and Greg and the boys began swatting up on the local customs and vernacular oddities of the North West of England!! With the assistance of social media, the band, myself and other newly christened admirers began to spread the word that July 18th was the day of reckoning. Sadly however, there were many who certainly would have offered their knowledgeable support, but were already committed to the Vasby festival in Sweden (I’ve since been reliably informed that those unfortunates will get another chance very soon). 

Because of this, The Railway Venue, despite its unique, quirky splendour looked rather sparse of custom when Mrs C and myself arrived at 8pm – and to add to the negativity I was informed by the doorman that the support band had been (to put it mildly) ‘asked to leave’. We were soon outside on the patio (which is also home to the newly constructed fast-food shack … See, I told you the venue was unique!!) chatting with the band members, who despite the aforementioned negativity were in great spirits and ready to put on a great show for whoever was lucky enough to turn up. Being without a support band meant an adjustment to IE’s set list, but at approximately 2130hrs the show began, in front of about 50 very lucky people. Now, what should be pointed out here, is that apart from their appearance at the renowned Download festival just four weeks prior (at which they were sharing the same oxygen as Kiss, Motley Crue, Judas Priest … to name but three) this was only their fifth gig together. Understandably: Greg Dean (guitar), Tim Dawkes (vocals), David Wasson (lead guitar), Gary Slater (bass) and Paul ‘Emo’ Emery (drums) all looked a little pensive as they launched into the opening track from HIPS, ‘Now That I’ve Found Love’ – a song originally delivered by Lee Small, who’s vocal talents were initially employed to get the band up and running. Now however, it’s Dawkes who takes front and centre, and what a terrific job he does. After performing another two songs from the album they had truly relaxed and seemed to be lapping up the intimate surroundings. The Cult’s chart-topping hit ‘Lil Devil’ and Lenny Kravitz’ signature song ‘Are You Going My Way’ provided interesting and extremely enjoyable deviation for both band and audience, before launching back into another triple dose of high quality songs from HIPS; finishing with the superb ‘Let It Rain’, showcasing the exemplary vocal range of Dawkes yet again. 

The interval gave everyone a chance to absorb what they had just witnessed – an inspiring display of musicianship with songs to match!!

 If the opening session was deemed impressive, then what followed could only be described as top class. After some discussion with proprietor and sound engineer, Jon, the band upped their game even higher. Dean’s and Wasson’s guitars were much more audible and distinguishable from each other; Slater and Emery continued to provide rhythmic embellishments; and songs like ‘I Can Feel It’ and ‘Every Little Thing’ blossomed because of Jon’s technical adjustments. Another couple of covers were thrown in to aggrandise the set even more; Aerosmith’s ‘Sweet Emotion’ being an excellent choice. The first three songs of the evening were then repeated in reverse order (courtesy of the support band’s absence ... Shame on you!!), but the audience didn’t mind a single iota; the band could’ve played all night as far as they were concerned. So, after the second rendition of ‘Now That I’ve Found Love’, the band left the stage rather sweaty, weary but totally fulfilled – and so were we!!

The Railway, over the past few years, has often become the springboard for many bands, new and not-so-new, to advance to the next level (just ask Black State Highway or Space Elevator, to name but two.), and I sincerely hope that Iconic Eye can do the same; they have the talent, the personality and the songs to do just that. Please, I implore you, if you get the chance to see these guys, then come along and give them your whole-hearted support – they deserve it!!

 

Setlist:

Now That I've found Love/ You Make It/ All She Needed/ Lil Devil (The Cult)/ Don't Stop Me From Leaving/ You're On Your Own/ Are You Going My Way (Lenny Kravitz)/ Let It Rain Down/ BREAK/I Can Feel It/ You Knew/ Sweet Emotion (Aerosmith)/Better Place/ Here I Stand/ Highway To Hell (AC/DC)/ Every Little Thing/ All She needed/ You Make It/ Now That I've Found Love 

                                                                                                                                          Dave Crompton

 

Power of Prog Album Review

To put Iconic Eye into modern perspective this is not your parents or grandparents AOR. When you think of AOR in a hard and heavy capacity bands like Journey, REO, Styx, Survivor, Toto, etc ... always come to mind. While Iconic Eye certainly carry elements of bands from AOR's past in the same tune they carry heavier and harder elements like Gary Hughes's Ten, Brazen Abbot, the supergroup Rated X etc... They seem to also have some prog influences such as Gary Hughes Once And Future King rock/metal opera to Pink Creme 69

 There are 12 tracks on Hidden In Plain Sight. After my multiple listens, I really believe every track and song will hold up in a live set each with their own studio integrity and purpose. You have straight away rocker hits and potential live anthems with tracks Now That I've Found Love, You Make It, All She Needed, Don't Stop Me From Leaving.  There are more traditionally  AOR  sounding tracks like Let It Rain Down , I Can Feel it , and Every Little Thing that remind me of greats like Survivor's- High On You or Honeymoon Suite's - I Feel It Again or Journey's - Separate Ways

No matter the direction of the album I feel it is one of those that will serve a two-fold purpose. One it will most definitely attract old school Baby Boomer and Generation X'ers that were around during AOR, Hard Rock's 'Golden Age' and introduce younger audience to a form and genre that seems that it does not plan on going away any time soon. I give Iconic Eye's Hidden In Plain Sight a 4/5 for giving the world a album that will eventually reach many generations to come.

Bluebeard Revenue Website

Metal Temple

House of Prog

www.rockchicks-radio.de

Power play magazine issue 173 (look under PowerCuts)

Glory Daze Music

Songs

As with the earlier EP all the songs featured here are really well executed with a sense of panache and flair and superbly arranged. Of the new six songs, five are originals with the other being a cover of the Python Lee Jackson chestnut “In a Broken Dream” with this track coming across as a perfect inclusion into the bands repertoire. “I can feel it” is a great song with a cracking riff; full of light and shade and exquisite harmonies a real AOR delight.”Better Place” continues with a rather insistent guitar figure and a real groove to it.”Here I stand” lowers the pace a little with a gorgeous, smouldering vocal performance from Tim Dawkes. “You Knew” is another classic 80`s sounding tune, with a more straight ahead approach.”You`re on your own” is a mid paced number again with a classic 80`s vibe. All of the above songs coupled with the previously released EP tracks have made up a top notch album for lovers of that classic early 80`s AOR/Melodic rock sound. Iconic Eye have kicked off their career in fine style and I for one look forward to hear more from this excellent British band.

In Summary

This Midlands band is certainly a name to watch out for within the AOR/Melodic rock community, their very limited EP “Well Begun” released earlier this year has being very well received in many quarters, and now with this their first full album they continue to deliver on the promise of said EP. Main man Greg Dean certainly has an ear for an instantly memorable melodic rock tune, taking his lead from some of the great bands of the era, whilst still retaining their own identity, and this set will certainly have fans of 80`s tinged AOR smiling from ear to ear. A place on this year`s Download bill will also raise the profile of the band and help spread the word. Definitely a band and album to search out, you won’t be disappointed. 

 

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Dave Crompton's (Fireworks Mag) - quote

"sumptuous AOR with a Melodic Rock edginess to each and every track"

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New album, "Into the light", released on Nov 4th