We here at Chordblossom have said it before and will continue to say it again and again: the talent this wee corner of the world produces is nothing short of phenomenal. Thus, expectations were high last week when local rockers Maverick launched their debut album Quid Pro Quo in the Empire. Having reviewed the album recently, we were very much looking forward to hearing the tracks live.
First up though, it was Dead Addiction, a bunch of hirsute, hard rocking lads (including former Maverick guitarist Chris Van Engelen – small world, eh?). Temporary vocalist Niall Graham – they’re apparently on the lookout for a more permanent member – rocked and boogied his way around the stage, looking for all the world like a younger version of The Answer’s Cormac Neeson. The rest of the band capably belted out their ebullient and entertainingly catchy hard rock, complete with themes of chaos, a touch of bluesy swagger and cheesy but highly enjoyable cover of Ugly Kid Joe’s ‘Everything About You’. With happy faces and good vibes filling the room, their job was done.
Next up, it was time for the pure heavy metal jolt of Conjuring Fate. Their Maiden-style galloping beats and punchy, machine gun riffs simply compelled the crowd to bang their heads – with those huge beams still in place. The band were confident and focused and were clearly enjoying themselves. Vocalist Tommy Daly is a natural frontman, self-assured and witty, with a voice that has talent and passion in spades – and boy, can he hit those high notes!
Wrapping up their set with the bass-tastic ‘Backwoods Witch’, it’s clear that Conjuring Fate’s role as support act won’t last much longer. The large number of CF tshirts worn by the crowd, plus their warm and noisy appreciation (as well as the fact that the band pretty much blew Dragonforce off the stage when they supported them recently) are all testimony to this. Best of luck, lads!
Then, the moment we had been waiting for. The siren intro of ‘Snakeskin Sinner’ rang out, and a huge roar from the full house followed. Maverick traipsed onto the stage to a heroes welcome and immediately launched into their high-energy set, playing their album in full and in order.
While those of a ‘certain age’ who are watching this band will feel a sense of deja vù – they will take you back to those hard rock/hair metal gigs you went to as a teenager in the Eighties – the band’s talent, enthusiasm and ability to simply craft great rock songs will get both your blood AND your fist pumping. This right here is fun music – like, seriously FUN.
Between songs, Balfour introduced the band members and touched upon the difficulties they’ve had in releasing the album (“this has been a LONG fucking time coming!”), before diving back in. Standout tracks for the night were the glam rock ‘Rock N Roll Lady’, the beefy sleaze rock of ‘One More Day’, the simply magnificent ‘Shackled’ and the band’s unofficial theme song, ‘In Our Blood’.
Balfour, despite battling a chest infection, was in fantastic form, combining the bolshiness of (early!) Axl Rose with the rock n roll attitude of Motley Crue’s Vince Neil. And speaking of hitting high notes…hoo! He was more than ably backed by the rest of the band who played a blinder of a set, all wreathed in smiles all night – even bashful but hugely talented lead guitarist Ryan Sebastian Balfour was grinning throughout.
The end of the album run through was marked by an elaborate drum solo, which the band watched from the crowd (ha!). Drum solos can be a trifle self indulgent, but goodness me Mike Ross is a talented lad – a fact proven again during the pre-encore when he stepped out from the drums (to make way for vocalist Balfour, no less!) and strapped on a guitar for a bolshy, stomping version of Hellfire. The band were then joined onstage by former guitarist Van Engelen for an extended solo (nice touch), followed by another solo from guitarist Ric Cardwell, with bassist Ritchie Diver setting a chugging, heavy groove.
Upon returning for their encore the band launched into their namesake track, before finishing off with the Steel Panther-esque ‘Top Heavy’. And then – hey, just for laughs, right? – why not end on a ball-busting version of ‘Youth Gone Wild’? Nailed it!
So, expectations were indeed high for tonight. Were they met? You bet your bandana they were. Maverick are on fire at the moment: they’re young, hot and hungry, and they’re gaining international attention as we speak. With QPQ they have proven both their talent and their ambition, and tonight’s launch has demonstrated just how much they’ve grown in the few short years since they formed. For Maverick, tonight was just the beginning.
Photos by Paul Verner of www.livei.co.uk/