Darke Horse: Sheffield Boardwalk

Around 30 people or so watched as Safe in the Crossfire kicked off the night’s entertainment. Vocalist Nick greeted the crowd confidently and admitted that this was their first gig. From the off the band played enthusiastically and it was obvious they had practised hard – because their consistent throbbing drum and bass ensured a catchy beat all the way through the set. The most memorable song of their set was ‘Promise’ (which sounds better live than on their MySpace!) with its melodic start and confident vocals.

Another song called ‘Escape’ was introduced and Nick said “The next songs is ‘Escape’…which you might want to do right now”. Well…no I didn’t want to escape actually…because if this is their first gig then watch out, because this band was good and quite impressive.

The Peles played to a slightly bigger crowd by launching into a faster paced set. This band is very together musically, but to be honest at the beginning the vocals weren’t my ‘cup of tea’ – but they did get a lot of the crowd clapping and singing along! Although as the set progressed – the strange disappearance of the vocalist during their first couple of songs was a bit odd although it did give the band the opportunity to show off their skills even more, when the vocalist returned he did sound better -especially when the backing vocals joined in. The crowd’s response also helped to boost Josh Dobson’s confidence, which also improved his vocals. The main feature of this band I have to say is the drummer Chris Cummins…he was amazing – imagine Animal from the Muppets – without the pinky/orange fur! It was his solo alone that encouraged more people to the front of the stage. This drummer has skill and he makes it look easy! The Peles set consisted of quite a few covers…but entertaining all the same.

Next up was Left Ajar – who I have had the pleasure of seeing before. They kicked off with the roaring energetic start of ‘Somedays’ – the guitar work between Andy and Jamie in this song is just brilliant – their timing with each other is immaculate and their riffs are very hair curling loud! The vocals and stage presence from Waynebob has also moved up a couple of notches too, he was a lot more confident and looked as though he was really enjoying himself, he also treated the crowd to his trademark bounces! Their interpretation of the song ‘Crazy Horses’, I have to say – is always a treat and this time it was dedicated to Simon from Darke Horse. This must be the night of amazing drummers because Russ really was ‘top trumps’ with the sticks and kept a catchy beat all the way through the set, especially on ‘Hit The Ground’ with its futuristic sound, I could imagine this song becoming the theme tune to something like Dr.Who! Their set finished with the catchy tune of ‘All My Life’ including a leap and a roll off the stage by Andy. This band is talented and always good to watch.

Last up was the amazing Darke Horse – who I have seen on many occasions. Their set opened with a blinding display of pyrotechnics, drums and electric guitars. Their first song ‘Text Me Back’ was a crowd pleaser which captured the audience’s attention instantly (after their initial blindness!) Their set was jam packed with their classics such as ‘Jacks My Friend’, ‘Paint The Town Red’ and ‘Love Ain’t No Use To Me’ and they did play some new material which promises to be just as popular as their more established tracks – from the slower and exceptionally strong vocal of ‘Had It Made’ to the catchy chorus of ‘Won’t Take it’. The drum solo from Jonno Lodge really put the icing on the cake for tonight’s drumming extravaganza from all the bands, especially with the use of the double bass drum. Simon Kaviani again oozed the rock appeal he seems to find so easy and along with Chris Gill and Joe Pearson really made the guitar playing so entertaining. The set finished as dramatically as it started with their best track ‘Flat Screen Suicide’…with more pyrotechnics.

This was one rockin’ night’s entertainment, with bands who complimented each other so well in one of the best music venues in Sheffield.