Walsall hard rockers, ‘Stone Broken’ have been a force to be reckoned with over the last few years, taking the UK rock scene by storm. This time last year, they were just about to launch their second album, and were on a UK and European tour. They followed this with a few festival appearances before heading over to the US for a 6-week stint. Since their return, they haven’t been idle - with a few more European dates and preparations for the 16 date UK ‘Home’ tour.
Cardiff was gig 14 of 16 and all the reviews of earlier gigs had been positive. The support band for the whole tour - Those Damn Crows - had been well received everywhere and the fanbase of both bands seemed to have increased exponentially.
At each gig, there has been a third band - each one hand picked by the headliners to open up the shows. In Cardiff - and the final two shows in Exeter and Southampton - the opening slot was filled by another South Wales band - Everyday Heroes. With the calibre of these three bands, it was no surprise when the show sold out a few months before.
The queue outside the venue as doors opened gave a clue as to how busy it would be inside as people jockeyed for prime viewing positions. By the time Everyday Heroes appeared on stage, the place was full. They are well known locally and their blues rock had the crowd entranced from the off, joining in as they sang some of their more well known songs, such as ‘Little Bit of You’. With the stage full of gear, Daniel Richards, on guitar, seemed constrained but still gave an impressive, active performance. Tucked behind him, Jay Haines, on drums, peered over the kit with his usual cheeky smile, clearly enjoying playing in front of a packed venue. As always, they finished their set with Delilah, as Luke’s gravelly voice, perfect for singing their original songs.
They left the stage to thunderous applause - the crowd had clearly enjoyed the first band of the night. People who had not seen them before said they had been the perfect opener for the show.
The next 20 minutes or so saw the stage empty slightly of gear. Peoples drinks were refilled and began to show their anticipation for the special guests. The 5 guys from Bridgend have seen their popularity grow massively since the release of their album ‘Murder and the Motive’. They have had a couple of tracks ‘A’ listed on Planet Rock and have picked up some reasonably high profile tour dates in the last few months.
They are a band who give every show their all. Ronnie Huxford (Drums) and Lloyd Wood (Bass) are a formidable rhythm section and the guitars of David Winchurch and Ian ‘Shiner’ Thomas perfectly support the exuberant Shane Greenhall on vocals. Shane bounds onto the stage, celebrating the previous days Welsh rugby win and instantly seems to be everyones best friend - engaging in a way that few frontmen at this level of band manage in such a relaxed way.
They play a set of their own music - mostly from their album and many of the crown sing every word back to them. With a confidence in his vocal talent, he uses the small area of stage to the extreme, and has the audience eating out of his hands for the entire set. Every band has a song that should always be in their set list. For the ‘Crows’ this seems to be ‘Blink of an Eye’. It is one of those songs that means different things to different people, but definitely sends a shiver of emotion down the spine. All too soon, the set closes with ‘Rock ’n’ Roll Ain’t Dead - a sentiment truly reflected in the Globe on Sunday.
The crew work hard to set the stage for the headliners.In the dark, Robyn picks her way to her kit, as the capacity crowd cheer. As Rich, Kieron and Chris join her on stage, and the lights go up, they seem humbled by the welcome they get.
Opening up with ‘Stay All Night’ from their debut album, people all around are singing the words back to them. As always, it is striking how much Robyn enjoys what she does. A beaming smile never leaves her face, as she pounds away. For once, the drummers kit is well lit, not hidden away in the dark. After a few tracks, - including their single ‘Hearbeat Away’, from the second album “Ain’t Always Easy”, they take a breath as Rich chats to the audience. he acknowledges familiar faces in the crowd, making jokes, telling stories as if he is chatting to friends in their front room. They play “Home” - the title of the tour, and their current single - “The Only Thing I Need” and the audience are totally captivated.
There is no room to move as the familiar songs echo round - each track giving the best that this band has to offer. Rich’s voice is smooth and clear and he makes sure everyone gets to see him by stepping on to the risers on stage with his radio mike, encouraging the fans to join in - which we do - willingly.
Stone Broken make the sort of music that is easy to sing along to with their verse/chorus style and we are able to take a breath as Chris plays his solos. Kieron gives the solid bass lines an airing and as they move around the stage, the close relationships in the band are evident. They are a committed, dedicated foursome with the potential to ‘make it’.
Although we have seen this band many times, they always try to bring something new to the party. This tour, we have seen Rich have a keyboard brought onto the stage for a couple of tracks - and Robyn doing some backing vocals which gives a more wholesome sound. As “Worth Fighting For”- the first single from the album - comes to an end, the stage goes dark as they leave to an applause loud enough to shake the rafters. The two encore tracks - “Wait for You” and “Not Your Enemy” seem such a part of the Stone Broken set, that it would be odd if they were missing.
Finally, the show finishes in terms of music, but, as always, the band head out to the floor to chat, have their photos taken and will sign, as they say ‘pretty much anything’. Without doubt, this show, as every other one on this tour, was brilliant, flawless and engaging.
If you haven’t seen these three bands - you are missing out. It will not be long before they are playing in arenas.