The Virginmarys, Live in London

Supports: Tax The Heat, Crobot

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Up and coming UK hard rockers The Virginmarys unleash the force in East London, backed up by a stellar pair of supports. Here’s what we made of the evening…

Remember the name Crobot

Sometimes, support acts can get in the way of the main event. A bad choice that doesn’t fit the bill, a band trying too hard to lure in the headliner’s fans, or just an outright terrible band who give you even more of an excuse to stick around the bar. We’ve all struggled through them on several occasions and it can be tedious, so when an opening act comes out and completely blows your expectations out of the water, it’s pretty awesome. When Pennsylvanian hard rock quartet Crobot opened the proceedings at XOYO, what happened was exactly that.

The crowd’s attention was grabbed instantly as wild-eyed front man Brandon Yeagley, looking like a new age Frank Zappa, commanded the stage with a huge presence and a majestic, Plant-esque voice that soars over the dirty, groove-laden riffs the band conjure. Songs like latest single Nowhere to Hide, The Necromancer (harmonica and all) and La Mano de Lucifer roar with power, immediate and memorable thanks to their Southern crunch. Having recently signed to Nuclear Blast in Europe for the release of their debut full-length Something Supernatural on October 27, just watch as this beast is fully unleashed into the world. Stunning.

Tax The Heat step up to the plate and hold their own

With an opening act so strong, it was going to be a test for Bristol’s Tax The Heat to follow keep the crowd’s attention, but luckily for them, they’ve got the kind of songs that are hard to resist in any situation. Their rhythm & blues-infused rock ’n’ roll kept the momentum going just fine as the suited and booted band smashed through tracks like the softer Summer Girl, and the balls-out rocker Fed To The Lions. It’s no surprise that this band are already opening the second stage at festivals as big as Download, and it’ll be great to see how they develop.

The Virginmarys are setting a new standard

It’s a testament to the raw power of The Virginmarys’ music that they can have such a solid support bill and still be the band of the evening. Taking to the stage under red lights, highlighting the giant V flag behind them, the Macclesfield trio stare out over the heaving venue and fire into a full on assault of thunderous drums, raging bass and visceral, urgent riffs from frontman Ally Dickaty.

Taking influence from all across the spectrum, The Virginmarys are the perfect mix of punk, blues and straight up rock that sounds vital in the live setting. The crowd are fully into it from the off, as the stomping Just A Ride is played within an inch of its life, drummer Danny Dolan beating all hell out of his drums backed up by bassist Matt Rose. Caution is thrown to the wind as the band tackle songs from King of Conflict and also prove that they aren’t going anywhere except up with some riotous new material peppered throughout the set.

Their multifaceted attack ticks all the boxes

On the brooding Dressed to Kill, The Virginmarys take the pace down a notch, but raise the intensity two more. As the chorus kicks in, the crowd roars with approval and as Dickaty’s guitar rings out over the melee, everyone has their eyes and ears glued to their every movement and note. Looking through the crowd, people are consistently dancing, laughing and really feeding off the gritty rock vibe. Portrait of Red is no exception to this as everybody joins in with the “Baby treat my body like a canvas!” refrain with feral abandon.

They’ve come a long way, baby…

When Dickaty announces that The Virginmarys first came to London four years ago playing to no one, and now have fans travel over from Belgium to come to this show (how’s that for hardcore?), it’s clear to see that the band are overwhelmed by the reaction they receive. An encore of the snarling Northern Sun and the filthy, unrelenting Bang Bang Bang leaves everyone that has been a part of the gig sweaty but satisfied after the fine storm of rock that has torn through their ears. It’s an exciting time for British rock music and The Virginmarys deserve to be at the very forefront of the pack with the likes of Royal Blood. When the new album drops, it’s bound to be huge.