Artist: VEGA, Kim Jennett
Venue: Crumlin, The Patriot
Date: 6 October 2023
A fine bunch of lads with a back catalogue to die for, Vega are given the reception they deserve in Wales tonight, and I hope they continue to make fans happy for years to come.
The Patriot is a small venue, resembling a scout hut or youth club at first glance, but warm and welcoming once you get inside. There was a fair amount of bodies to see Vega, touring the excellent new ‘Battlelines’ album, but first up was Manchester’s Kim Jennett. Jennett is one of those performers who is small in stature but big in voice and personality, and it’s clear from the start that this is not going to be a quiet set. She is surrounded by a three piece backing band that has been put together solely for this tour and includes Vega bassist Mart Trail. She’s yet to release a product but that didn’t stop her belting out several fantastic original tunes before finishing with a top notch version of ‘Immigrant Song’. One song, ‘Psycho’, was written by Myke Gray and is purely belter, and ‘Love Like Suicide’ seems like you’ve heard it before but is a powerful original piece. Then there’s ‘Black Mirror’, which Jennet describes simply as an “angry song”, and it certainly is, featuring a primal scream that must feel a lot better out than in. Although she is on for just half an hour, Kim Jennet leaves an impression like an elephant in a butter dish. A real dervish onstage with a fantastic voice that will leave mouths agape, and offstage just this nice girl who wants to make good music. Check her out, it’s worth it.
Formed in 2009 (feel old yet?), Vega have never failed to deliver when I’ve seen them. With a cracking new album to promote and a venue full of fans who seem to know every word, they’re in their element as they kick off with the album’s opener ‘Heroes & Zeroes’, setting a high bar that they refuse to lower for the next ninety minutes or so. The album is definitely a reflection of the heavier side of Vega (yet still very melodic), and the choice of the older tracks that pepper the set has been well done, and though there’s loads I would have liked to hear (about two hours worth), there’s not a duffer to be heard.
The sound is pretty decent, the crowd appreciative, and singer Nick Workman his usual ball of energy self, just enjoying what he does. Vocally, he’s as good as ever, hitting those painfully high notes with ease and harmonizing well with the rest of the band, creating a sound that is unmistakably Vega. It’s the new tracks that garner my interest, and stuff like ‘Love To Hate You’, ‘Gotta Be You’, ‘Embrace The Grey’, and ‘Run With Me’ stand with their heads held high against existing classic like ‘Kiss Of Life’, ‘Every Little Monster’ and set closer ‘Hands In The Air’. Half a dozen new tracks is more than most bands chuck out at this point, but there are no complaints (except that maybe ‘God Save The King’ could have been added). Definitely a case of too many great songs, too little set time, Vega overflow with class throughout.
The band are tight as anything, with co-writer Pete Newdeck looming at the back like Frankenstein’s drummer, whilst only other original member (along with Workman) Marcus Thurston relishes his short but impressive solos. Mart Trail is solid as he was with Kim Jennet, whilst rhythm guitarist Billy Taylor does his best to make Nick Workman look like the second most attractive member of the band. A fine bunch of lads with a back catalogue to die for, Vega are given the reception they deserve in Wales tonight, and I hope they continue to make fans happy for years to come.
Review: Alan Holloway