Whittle’s Oldham was the location for my first concert of the year, and it was also my first visit to this venue too. As a venue it certainly has a good welcoming vibe, wonderful décor (massive artwork of DAVID BOWIE & OZZY OSBOURNE is always appreciated along with nods to other Rock royalty) plenty of space to sit or stand and plenty of hand sanitiser stations, showing that whilst ready to rock that the presence of the global pandemic still looms.
I can appreciate that this venue would work wonders for club nights and for gigs, there is a good-sized stage that whilst being grandiose will still provide that intimate experience that is lacking from arena-based shows.
As I arrived at the venue, it was good to take a bit of backseat and see CONTROL THE STORM setting up. The other band on tonight’s billing ALIA TEMPORA were hanging out and having some relaxation time before the night’s festivities commenced.
Tonight’s show was the second on the INTERNATIONAL WOMEN OF ROCK TOUR of which only some of the UK Dates were going ahead. Some had to be cancelled due to lack of funding from one of the main tour sponsors pulling out on the back of the frightening events in the Ukraine (which we at ROSO have already put an article up about this if it is affecting your mental health and wellbeing which can be accessed here). This also resulted in headliner TEMPERANCE pulling out of all shows (apart from London) and for opening act COLLIBUS to also pull out.
CONTROL THE STORM opened up the night’s proceedings with the opening track of their 2019 release Forevermore. Whilst the overall attendance for the night was not packed out, it certainly got the crowd warmed up and this continued to build throughout their set. We were then treated to a couple more songs from the aforementioned album before the band played the most recent single Desire which was released last year. This is an absolute banger of a track, and it was a pure delight to witness this song live for the first time.
We were then treated to more songs from the Forevermore album before CONTROL THE STORM surprised us with the debut of a cover song. The cover song in question was originally produced by the legendary Jim Steinman and is undoubtably one of the ultimate rock anthems of all time: Bonnie Tyler’s Holding Out for a Hero. This cover was very much well received by the crowd and CONTROL THE STORM totally rocked this by keeping the best parts of the track but just making it that touch heavier! They totally made this their own!
We were then greeted to the rest of the Forevermore and to hear the album in its entirety live was an amazing experience. This album is one I can go back to time and again from initially backing the crowdfunding campaign through to its release and then hearing some of the tracks live too. The stage presence and fan interaction of the group didn’t indicate that they had been biding their time over the pandemic awaiting shows to commence once more, it was as if there had been no pandemic at all and that they that had been touring constantly as a well-oiled melodic metal machine and honing their craft. I finally got to see CONTROL THE STORM again (the last time was Power Metal Quest Fest in 2019!) after being excited about the IMPERIAL AGE tour that for obvious reasons has had to be postponed but I am already looking forward to seeing them again in the future.
The night’s headliner ALIA TEMPORA was a first for me. I had heard plenty of good things from friends about their live shows and the overall appreciation of their fanbase too. How would one best describe the band? You really cannot put them into a box at all as there is such an eclectic mix of styles and genres such as metal, dubstep, electro, pop and many, many more! There is certainly touches of METALITE and AMARANTHE about the group yet they stand out on their own away from both of these other acts too. The group performed the bulk of their latest album The Dragonfly Effect which vocalist Markéta Morávková introduced each song and was entirely humbled by all of the fan interaction and appreciation after each track.
The one track that ingrained itself was Humanity. Markéta, whilst introducing this song reflected upon the recent events in the Ukraine and saying that it would be better if we all got along. This song features samples from the classic speech performed by Charlie Chaplin in the film The Great Dictator and opens with “For those who can hear me, I say – do not despair. The misery that is now upon us is but the passing of greed – the bitterness of men who feat the way of human progress. The hate of men will pass, and dictators die, and the power they took from the people will return to the people. And so long as men die, liberty will never perish.” If we all took a moment to reflect on these quotes and the songs message overall too then maybe the world could maybe, just maybe, be a better place.
There were some additional songs performed from The Dragonfly Effect and it was great to hear Asking / Por Siempre performed together with Mario Del Rio Escobedo who featured on the album version of this track but was also on live guitar duties for this tour too. We were then treated to a new song Fake It Till You Make It which was incredibly catchy and a great indicator as to what can be expected on the next release from the group. We also had a couple of tracks throughout the set from debut album Digital Cube before the set came to a close with fan favourite Crossroads which is a very uplifting song showing strength, divergence and unity “we have no future, we’ve been told a million times, keep your head down, we are the losers”
To finish on such a track is incredibly poignant and just shows that together we are better, we are united and that we can achieve anything. It wholeheartedly encapsulates the bond between the band and their fanbase and I will be sure to keep an eye out for when they grace us with their presence in the UK once more.
I do believe that if the other two bands had continued to have been involved for all of the dates on the UK leg of the tour that the attendance would have been larger, however the crowd that was there lapped it all up and were vocal enough with their encouragement and appreciation for both acts.
This show was undoubtably a success and looks to go from strength to strength over the remainder of the tour dates.
Words & Photos: Martin White