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The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world
STONE CIRCLE AT THE ASTOR LOUNGE LIVE REVIEW 2014

STONE CIRCLE AT THE ASTOR LOUNGE LIVE ON NOVEMBER 21 2014

STONE CIRCLE

WITH LEGS ELECTRIC

LIE AT THE ASTOR LOUNGE PERTH WA

NOVEMBER 21 2014

One of Perth’s most enduring and endearing Hard Rock bands – Stone Circle took up residency at The Astor lounge tonight for what was billed as the ‘Hard to Say Goodbye’ show. After a year when the band has played only a few select gigs and with such a provocatively-titled show there were a few speculating that tonight might be the night when the band called it a day despite many denials along to road to the show. Nothing of course could be further from the truth, it’s just been a busy year and especially for lead singer ‘Harry’ who launched his own ‘Containers For Cuba’ enterprise – sending instruments to the Caribbean nation to help kids make a living from music.

Tonight was special in that it also saw the band run through their entire first (and to this point only) full-length – ‘Living for the Sunshine’. 


Stone Circle has a passionate following locally and in such far flung places as Cuba and Argentina but tonight was all about their hometown fans and to be honest this could well have been one of the best and most passionate shows we’ve seen them put on. If you like your hard rock built on a mixture of epic set-pieces and immediate rockers, held together by a formidable backline and some wonderful Van Halenesque guitar, with a distinctly Australian twist then Stone Circle is a band to take notice of.

Opening the set with ‘Tied to Stone’ and running with the album in order it was interesting to hear some of the familiar show-closers in the middle of the set, especially the lengthier fare like ‘Epic’ and ‘Gero Love Song’.  Tonight it’s clear that the band has come to impress and three songs in it’s the piano led ballad ‘Lost’ a track that is sometimes overlooked in their set that really hits the spot before the indisputable craft of title track ‘Living for the Sunshine’ underlines the quality of Stone circle’s song-writing.  


Throughout the set Harry is in the crowd singing his heart out, always moving, thanking everyone for coming or back on stage Vedder-like slugging from a bottle of wine. Skelton like a short-haired John Paul Jones moves seamlessly from bass to keys and whilst Kee must surely be one of the best drummers in the West, Howe is at his usual laid back hippie Eddie Van Halen best. 

Amidst the set Mick Jagger (a recent visitor to Perth) gets name-checked and a song gets dedicated to a ‘young girl who’s had it tough recently’ and Stone Circle are at their Hard Rock with Prog leanings best. Indeed at times if it wasn’t for Howe’s incendiary guitar you’d swear at times this could be Rush or another Classic Prog heavyweight.

 

After ‘Epic’ – one of Stone Circle’s finest ‘Ramblin’ Man’ starts with some almost gospel keys and as the song suggests rambles on just a bit. That’s not, of course, to say that Stone Circle don’t have immediacy and songs like ‘Speed Racer’ prove they can get to the point just as well as anyone. The first half of the set, as the album does closes with the almost Cold Chisel-like ‘Don’t Look Back’.


Joining the crowd at the bar the band takes five before coming out with the new stuff, and it’s material that is just begging for a new release and which plays to the bands many strengths. Imagine seventies rock meets stadium rock – you’ll hear it in second set opener ‘Wash Away’ which is quickly followed by the funkier ‘Sister’ which is introduced by Harry as being on the new album next year – definitive confirmation there will be no split.

Once that little bit of ‘housekeeping’ is out the way the set opens up with the bass-led romp through ‘Skeletons’ before perhaps the best song these guys have ever written – ‘Northern Lights’ which starts with sounds of the sea, a dark atmosphere punctuated by spinning lights before a swirling miasma of keys and guitar burst into the song itself, which tonight has a funky breakdown and spoken-word segment that works beautifully.

 

After that’s to everyone to making it down tonight and everyone involved in putting te evening together ‘Sold Me Out’ hits hard, it’s the heaviest song of the night and singer Harry prowls the stage Neeson-like bemoaning, quite fittingly, an 8c royalty cheque.

While Harry haunts the stage in his Che shirt and Vedder inspired bottle of wine ‘Tomorrow Never Comes’ shows that the next album, which may well feature the production of Bob Spencer might be even better than the debut we’ve heard earlier. As an introduction Skelton’s piano solo may well initially sound like the music from a Snoopy cartoon (we love Snoopy by the way), but is awash with such a depth of ideas, humour, power and consummate skill it adds another layer to an already rich sound. The extended drum intro too shows that thi9s is a band with more than just a solid foundation.

 

Stone Circle close the night with a huge ballad and a barrage of spotlights, ‘Kings of Time’ is an epic song in the vein of the best moments from their debut and surely one of the songs that will make it onto the new album. Thankfully tonight ends looking at the future for Stone Circle rather than the split some might have anticipated. One thing is for sure with talent and chemistry like this, and a rapturous response from the fans this is far too good a thing to end…

 

by Jo Rockpit November 2014

 

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