Who: Higher Power / Chamber / Stranded
Where: Asylum 2, Birmingham
Not unlike my last review of the Fathoms/LIFETIGHT show, I also missed a couple of bands at this show as I was busy carrying out some interviews for the Second City Hardcore scene report which featured on In The Pit #15. With that in mind, let me spin you a yarn. A very short one (so more like a small child’s sock than a middle aged and overweight man’s woolly jumper).
It was a cold and frosty Wednesday evening in February. I was walking my dog across the Malvern Hills and thoroughly enjoying the tranquillity of the English countryside when the ringtone of my phone blasted out and ruined the vibe completely. “Yeah? Who is it?”. “It’s Rich, mate. Pub?”. “Nah, I’m off to a gig in Brum tonight kid. Fancy it?”. “Errrmmm, who’s playing?”. “Hardcore bands bro.” “Errrrr yeah, go on then”. And that ladies and gents, is where this story starts. My old pal Rich “Hands like shovels” Holdham, had finished early on a building site and fancied a few jars. I had other plans, however, and without any persuasion, convinced him to join me on a trip up the M5 (again!).
To pass the time, I gave old spade fingers the run-down of the line-up for the show we were headed to in my clapped-out Ford Focus. “Stranded are a hardcore band from Birmingham and they’re part of Second City Hardcore. Chamber are a hardcore band from Telford and Higher Power are a crossover band from Leeds that sound like Leeway.” Said I. “So are Chamber in Second City Hardcore” Rich asked. “No, they’re West Midlands Hardcore” I replied. “How come?” Quizzed axe digits. “They just are bro. I don’t really know what the deal is k?” said the protagonist of this nonsensical story/review/thing. “And what’s ‘crossover’?” enquired my cracked-skinned pal. “It’s a blend of hardcore and thrash mate. Bands like DRI and Leeway had it nailed in the early 90’s.” And that was the end of the convo until we rolled up to the doors of the Asylum 2.
Birmingham’s Stranded were smashing out some seriously chunky beatdowns as we got to the bar, (pint of wife-beater for bob the builder, soda water and lime for the bearded fool FYI), and two things immediately caught my attention. 1 – The barrier. A fucking barrier had been setup in front of the stage like this was Ally Pally or some shit. Weird. 2 – The mosh. Shit was going off BIGTIME in the pit. The SCHC crew were out in force and showing their support for the pummelling sounds of Stranded with some windmill, spin kick and two-step action. GNARL. Unfortunately, wheelbarrow boy and I, had arrived late and so only caught the last songs of the Stranded set. The last of which was a decent cover of ‘Burn The Lies’ by Hatebreed which I had a blast singing along to. Other things worthy of note; vocals were on point, the drummer zak (who’s also in Cauldron, Splintered and a bunch of other SCHC bands) was killing it behind the kit, while Jess (guitar) was proving that she can shred just as hard, if not harder, than the lads.
It was around this point that I grabbed Jess for an interview along with Chris from Birmingham’s ‘Drawn In’ and Ryan from promoters ‘Surprise You’re Dead’ for my feature on SCHC, which meant that I missed almost all of Chambers set. Sorry lads! All I caught was the very last song which caused the sickest pit of the night. Shaafi (vocalist in Birmingham’s ‘Cruelty’) is a one-man mosh machine. Stand near that guy at your own peril when he his arms start swinging. There’s a word to describe guys like him: PITBOSS. After they finished their set, Chambers vocalist did give a shout out to one of his pals “give it up for [insert name here?], that’s the first time he’s moshed in 20 years” which got a good giggle from the punters.
There was just enough time for a couple more pints of ‘ARRR-TOORR-ISS’ for Rich and another lime and soda for yours truly, before Leed’s boys ‘Higher Power’ took the stage. BOOM! They dive straight into ‘’ from their 2017 album ‘Soul Structure’ and the room goes all shades of tits. Bodies are flying all over the place in the pit. A girl walks out with a broken nose and a blood splattered t-shirt. Brutal. It seems the crowd doesn’t need much encouragement tonight and are already up for a mad one, but that doesn’t stop frontman Jimmy bellowing things down the microphone like “Bounce with me Birmingham” and “Let’s keep this shit going and have some fun”. In between playing most tracks from their full-length, Jimmy announced “It’s great to be back in Birmingham and to see some familiar faces”. He also gave a shout out to the support bands and followed it up with “It’s good to play with younger bands. They might grow up to be rock stars one day.” And lest we forget, the bass player must be awarded some scene points as he was sporting a rather nice Black Sabbath tee. Nice touch fella! Highlights of the set for me were “Can’t Relate’ ‘Looking Inward’ and ‘Four Walls Black’. It’s no surprise that those 3 are the one’s chosen as (and I use the term loosely) ‘singles’ and featured on YouTube.
Max and Louie from the band were kind enough to let me interview them after the show and one of my questions was “what can people expect from a Higher Power live show?”, to which they responded “Groove, funk and riffs. Just a fucking laugh really. Come and have a dance and enjoy yourself.” After seeing them live, I can say hand on heart, that is a completely true and valid statement. A Higher Power show is great fun. Full of good vibes and positivity which could well be down to the guys in the band having, what seems like, a very tight friendship (two of them are brothers. You can’t get much tighter than that!). There’s something very genuine and credible about Higher Power and that comes across in the music. Great band, great music. End of. If you haven’t already, go grab a copy of Soul Structure. It’s…….yep, you’ve guessed it…..great.