Californian stadium rockers Crown Jewel Defense have embarked on their first full length UK tour and the final night brings us to a small pub on the outskirts of Brixton. Sadly the turn out isn’t quite as the band deserve.
The three bands on the bill tonight are from a mixture of genres but first on are youngsters The Final Chapter who have probably been chaperoned to the venue by their parents and are probably sad that the prospect of the end of tour means it’s back to school. But for a band so young this metal quintet are buzzing with energy and try extremely hard to please. Vocalist Jake Barnes has the perfect balance of clean vocals mixed with raw growls and deep screams. The band’s set is full of brutal riffs and is tight, melodic and harmonic yet fast paced. The band have impeccable stage presense for a band still in their early stages.
Next on stage are Summerlin, showing off their punk-rock music which certainly captures the audience’s attention if the crowd is anything to go by. This is the sort of band you can imagine being the perfect soundtrack to a warm summer festival – listening to them with a cold pint next to your friends. Instead swap this ideal for a fairly empty Brixton bar, with less than fifty kids knocking about: you get the picture. The band open with ‘Sink or Swim’ , blending raspy vocals with a melodic feel and then blast their way through more tracks from their debut album ‘You Can’t Burn Out If You’re Not On Fire’. A twenty minute set is just not enough time for the band to showcase everything the crowd would like to hear, but the band do a pretty great job trying.
Finally Crown Jewel Defense take to the stage and show exactly why this tour was called the Glittersweet tour where it seems that spandex wasn’t an option but a neccessity. Vocalist Taylor Hood would make previous tour buddy Justin Hawkins proud as he struts the stage in similar fashion, filled with high pitched screaming and humorous faces. Launcing into first track ‘I Guess That’s What It Gets’ it’s fast and certainly dance worthy. The band move with such urgency you’d think their lives depended on it. With songs strong enough to fill stadiums it is a shame that the transitions between songs are not smoother. With only one microphone on stage – infront of Taylor – the awkward chit chat is almost as awkward as the silence which precedes it.
The members disappear off stage at numerous times to leave room for a slightly below average drum solo fortunately followed later by an above average guitar solo which brings the tone up. The band blast through heavier tracks like ‘Wasting Days’ alongside poppier sounding tracks such as ‘Mandy’, with its simply constructed chorus and what should be singalong moments (sadly tonight’s crowd aren’t quite in the singing mood). Their whole set shows off Taylor‘s ability to shift from a low purr to high pitched wailing.
As the band near the end of their set Taylor appears onstage alone with an acoustic guitar strapped to him as he busts through a haunting melody of covers which are thrashed out with 80s style vocals which wouldn’t seem out of place on the Rock of Ages soundtrack. Previous tour buddies The Darkness would be proud of their cover of ‘I Believe In A Thing Called Love’ which is then mixed in with some Avril Lavigne, Taylor Swift and Miley Cyrus. This different style gives the band chance to move into their own acoustic ballad ‘Guns And Run’. This acoustic downtime showcases the band’s true versatility and the Californians bid farewell with ‘Forgotten Life’ where a cover of ‘Dear Maria’ is integrated within.
The charismatic quintet lend themselves far better to live performances and no recording will really do them justice: it’s just a shame that tonight’s show isn’t bigger to allow them to show off more. If Taylor just works on his British humour the band may well achieve great heights.
Reviewer: Rhian Westbury