Live Review: Cale Lane @ The Boulevard, Wigan (2/9/16)

It’s been a long fucking time since Cale Lane last played a hometown show in Wigan. Seasons have changed, and perhaps the scene has changed with them. A stout-hearted reveller curled one out on the dance floor in Reflex. The local greebos have achieved a full winter hibernation cycle and returned paler than ever. Cale Lane themselves have swapped out their frontmen for newer, sweatier models… I could go on.  A lot, indeed, has happened since last July’s sunny outdoor half-dayer at The Swan & Railway.

There’s understandably a bit of a buzz about this one, then – amplified by the fact that tonight’s venue, The Boulevard, have been proudly heralding the debut of a bludgeoning new in-house PA setup. Combined with a tasty rack of supports, we have what Hagrid might describe as ‘a thumping goodun I’d wager’ lined up.

First to take the stage are relative newcomers The Summus Peak, fresh from releasing debut single ‘What We Could Be’ (clickedy click, biatch). Having never managed to catch these guys before, I was pretty stoked to check out what the crack was with Cale Lane bass-man Shepp’s much-lauded ‘other band’.  As you might imagine if you give their new single a spin, The Summus Peak bring a heavy yet progressive sound to their live show.  It lands perhaps somewhere on the melodic end of hardcore, or the more avante-garde and less chorus-driven end of post-hardcore. It’s a tight performance musically, with some well-crafted tracks laying a solid groundwork for the birth of a new stalwart of the local scene – yet for me, there’s a something missing in a live setting.  The crowd-work between tracks needs a little touching up, or perhaps to preserve the atmosphere their music is capable of generating sacked off altogether with instrumental bridging or use of a backing track. One to keep an eye on.

Next up came Vote Edison. I’d never seen these guys before either, but (while on a very pleasant and rum-laden sabbatical in Australia) been informed by a considerable number of my sweaty greeb spies (I’m like a skinny Varys with a much less disappointing joy department) that they are the real deal. I promptly took out a mortgage to purchase a double house rum from the bar and planted myself front and centre. As I’m writing this some time after the fact, it’s impressive that the sticking details of the set are how unbelievably tight they were for such a fresh band. Their sound to my ears combined the melodics of early Billy Talent with the mathy aggressiveness of ‘proper era’ Biffy Clyro, though to be honest I’m just simplifying to try and nail down a description. Anyway, it’s not often that I come to a local show and find a brand new band that take my head off quite this well and I’m genuinely excited to see what they’re going to get up to next. Click here and have a listen to their single ‘Bore’.

In the main support slot are local metal merchants Bloodwork Salvation. Although their sound isn’t really to my taste, I was pleased for the ‘Rawkus! Top Greeb Award 2015’ winners on hearing that they’d signed a distro deal with Sepulchral Silence, and treated myself to a few cheapo shots between bands before checking out how they’ve evolved in the year-and-a-half or so since I last caught them. It becomes apparent pretty much immediately, though, that they haven’t (to my ears, at least). While their good-sized headbanging contingent are quite happy down the front, their sound (which I overheard being succinctly described as ‘metal by numbers’) just isn’t my thing. That guitarist David lost his Viking helmet recently only makes matters worse. I liked that helmet. I slip out for more boozahol for a while before catching the end of their set. As it has been all evening, it’s still a packed house – and there’s hair flying everywhere. Maybe I’m simply not kvlt any more 😦

Cale Lane have played some ridiculous slots recently – supporting Martyr Defiled, Napoleon, Norma Jean and Oceans Ate Alaska over the last few months, mainly down to beardy King of Rawkus Mark ‘Top of the Whops’ Simcock having a hand in promoting most all of them. It’s not hard to see why they’ve pulled them off quite so well, though, given that with one vocal line-up or another the Metalcore scrubs have been around since the dawn of time, winning a Battle of the Bands or two in the process. From the off they slam in with the trademark energy afforded to them by incorporating two frontmen into the equation, and set about playing all the notes ever. One of the criticisms I’ve heard about Cale Lane’s older material is that it can be overly technical in parts and doesn’t leave that breathing room for groove, but the newer stuff opens its grubby little arms wide and welcomes riffs to the party (incidentally, they’ve just hit the studio to record an EP so keep an eye out for that). Mark (harsh vocals) is shouting at everyone as per, while Gary (cleans) delivers a slightly gruffer-sounding set than usual (probably because we’ve just been over the road drinking bourbon so bootleg mine still had a rubber duck in it). It’s a well-delivered set, although I have to say I’ve possibly seen them in better form recently. It’s always a pleasure when old frontman Fishwick joins them for their closer – a rendition of ‘Turns on a Sixpence’ – even if I do have to tell soundman Rob-from-Riggots to get ready to turn him down a bit cos he’s a shouty bastard. A top night in all, to be honest!

Words by Jed Saint

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