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The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world
Stone Circle and the Tea Set April 2014

STONE CIRCLE AND THE TEA SET LIVE AT THE FLY, FREMANTLE APRIL 11 2014

STONE CIRCLE AND THE TEA SET

THE FLY TRAP, FREMANTLE WA AUSTRALIA

APRIL 11 2014

A Stone Circle show is always more of an event these days with the band striving each time to do something new for the fans, and create something special: it’s an amiable disposition to have for a band that already has one of the best acts in the local Rock scene.

Tonight is surprisingly the first time they have played ‘The Fly’, the intimate room that forms the back of Fremantle’s famous musicians haunt The Fly By Night Club.  It’s a small room with a great sound and makes the night seem all the more intimate: a gathering of friends rather than a rock gig.


Arriving late due to some unanticipated sporting event eating up all of The Fly’s usual ample parking we manage to catch the end of Stone Circle frontman Harry’s acoustic set. It’s a low-key start to the evening that sees Harry combine covers with original material, including a song he wrote just last week ’One Time in the Future’ which builds like a U2 anthem. It’s a song essentially of loss and you can’t help but feel the emotion and wonder what it would sound like with a full band behind it.

Tonight of course is special as it also marks the live debut of ‘The Tea Set’ a band made up of Scott and Derrin from Stone Circle and Luke Meyers the original singer with local band Ragdoll.  Having known Luke for some time, the set was going to be doubly interesting as I heard the original demos of many of these songs that are getting their first airing tonight over two years ago now. It’s been a while but when you listen to the quality of the material you know that there will be so more to come.


In a night that I’m sure I experienced a little differently to most, it was great to hear how far songs like the bluesy, almost Gunners-vibed ‘Bad Addiction’ had come: or how the originally raw ‘Music Man’ which went through many sonic changes had managed to recapture some of that raw power again.      


The Tea Set, strange name aside, play Rock and Roll with soul and feeling and in truth have some great songs behind them that seem to connect more or less head on with the crowd tonight. ‘Beautiful Night’ is slower number that builds with some fuzzy guitar into a real anthem, but they play some straight melodic Rock too with ‘Don’t I Love You’ (?) and ‘Trouble (again)’ (?)  sitting nicely in the middle of a set that is both varied and beautifully executed despite a distinct lack of preparation time (so the guys tell me).

Craig from Stone Circle gets up on stage for the big ballad, that may or may not be called ‘Cold Dark of Night’ it’s a song about love with a great piano intro and some culture blues guitar. Scott dons the double-neck guitar for the single ‘Lost Without You’ which will be out soon.  It’s a song undercut with a funky groove and a melodic chorus that gives it a poppy flavour before kicking up a huge storm midway, all high notes, screams and real passion across a driving rhythm section and some awesome guitar. It’s a song that will do these guys a lot of good when it’s unleashed.


Before the final song Scott tells the crowd how much it means to see so many people out to watch them. It is in truth an impressive first show for a band that promises so much. The last song sees cowbells handed out to the crowd to the crowd to accompany ‘Little Piece of Heaven’ the song that has perhaps come furthest since I heard those first demos. It’s a great song, catchy as hell and a perfect way to end the band’s first ever show.

As a complete contrast Craig Skelton – Stone Circle’s very own Michael Anthony (Van Halen fans) is the wildest of ‘wild cards’ tonight. Putting on a solo set with his ‘virtual band’. It’s an evening that is now all about that most over used and most misinterpreted of words ‘love’.

 

Smothered by his double bass and keys Craig morphs seamlessly into part comedian, part entertainer and part showman as he gets to, in his own words: ‘play with himself and his big red organ on stage’. All his songs tonight are about love in one way or another.

 

What may or may not surprise you is the low-key nature of the set, which takes in everything from singer-songwriter angst, mild melodic rock with distinct West-Coast leanings and even a smattering of ‘show-tune’ like moments.  ‘Who’ll stop the crying’ is a slab of funky AOR to start us out, and as the set opens up we get invited into an inspirational and at times intricate mix of eclectic styles and influences from jazz and Prog and all points in-between.

 

From easy-listening songs about self-belief, an old song that reminds us of Gilbert O’Sullivan meets the Jam via a showbiz ‘End of pier’ entertainer, that may have been titled ‘Waiting for the sun’ (?) it’s a set that keeps you on your toes. The kind of set that says ‘hey if you don’t like this one don’t worry there will be another one around any minute now that you’ll love’.

 

There’s emotion to: as Craig touches on the loss of a child, before pouring out a mournful discourse on the children of war. As a contrast new song ‘Miss P falls in love’ (an ode to an audience member we all know) sounds like something Andrew Lloyd Webber could have crafted.  

 

Moving away from the keys there’s a further change in tempo as Craig slaps the bass and descends into some Prog-esque madness of Sax-pop , before the haunting ‘Not Alone; that deals with the house fire that left his family homeless but surrounded by the love of family and friends. It’s a full (virtual) band rendition that has a smattering of The Beatles or Crowded House about it.

 

The set ends with the very Robbie Williams-like ‘Angel’ for his wife and a healthy closing dose of singer songwriter AOR with a swing Harry Connick Jr. would have been proud of.  

Stone Circle sounds hungry tonight, and in truth it’s hard to believe that this is their first show of 2014. As expected they are powerful as ever, but seem somehow leaner and keener whilst, as always, musically they are spot on.

 

After a start bursting with energy two songs in we get to hear a new number ‘Black Widow’ that rides a funky bass-line and has a distinct modern edge. The crowd of course already loves it, dancing and singing along there’s such a sense of love in the room.

 

Stone Circle is a band that can run the gamut of Hard Rock with ease, from the lushest of ballads to the incendiary full burst of guitar energy Howe always seems to have bubbling under the covers. They can also sound remarkably traditional or refreshingly modern, and it’s all solid as a rock. Most in the crowd of course has come out for the big numbers and they aren’t going home disappointed.    

 

In a set that doesn’t want to let up - there’s riff driven mayhem, electric vocals and some great songs, and it’s all held together by the funky bass of Skelton and the power of Kee’s drums. Tonight at the Fly reminds you just why we should all be getting out there more often to support local live music. Perth has such a great scene these days – don’t miss out.

 

 

by Jo and Mark Rockpit| Photos by Mark Diggins April 2014

 

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