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Cassidy Paris, Wicked Smile, Fury

Artist: Cassidy Pasis, Wicked Smile, Fury

Venue: Stoke: Eleven

Date: 19 November 2023

"Judging by the number of Fury shirts it was clear the band have a strong fan-base in place and if it hadn’t been the beginning of a very busy gig week then I would have raided the merch stand for a few items."

Fury © Dave Bott
Fury © Dave Bott

In the past, Sunday afternoons were generally spent watching football on TV or writing up album reviews for the magazine… ‘Songs Of Praise’ was never an option! For twelve months or so, there has been a third option. Eleven in Stoke (my second favourite venue after the Waterloo Music Bar in Blackpool) has started to host afternoon gigs and they have, in the main, proved to be very popular and well attended. The biggest benefit (for me anyway) is that home before 8pm means no late night with work on Monday morning.

The fifty-minute car journey seemed to take twice as long on this occasion, with the M6 weather being horrendous and unrelenting. I did get there in time to set up my camera, before Cassidy Paris took to the stage at 3 o’clock. I caught her twice towards the tail end of 2022 and was impressed by her confident stage presence and powerful voice. Her father (and Wicked Smile guitarist) Steve Janevski was still on double duty, but there was no denying that the set was all about Cassidy. ‘Walking On Fire’ and ‘Song For The Broken Hearted’ (both taken from the ‘Broken Hearted’ EP) took on a different identity when played live and the cover of Joan Jett’s ‘I Hate Myself For Loving You’ was a perfect choice. Wicked Smile lead-singer Danny Cecati joined for ‘Close My Eyes Forever’, yet it was the original material that made the biggest impact, with set closer ‘Danger’ being the highlight. Her debut full-length is due to drop in December and hopefully this will give her profile a lift, even though everything is already in place to achieve this.

Wicked Smile made the trip over to the UK for series of dates (also accompanied by Cassidy) in 2022 and now they have returned with a new EP, titled ‘Night Time Riders’, to promote. There have been a few line-up changes since the 2022 tour, but it was still the same attitude and musical prowess on display in Stoke. From the opening ‘Killer At Large’ through to the closing ‘Daze Of Delirium’, (ballad ‘Don’t Wait For Me’ aside) it was Melodic Metal of the highest calibre. The likes of ‘Date With The Devil’, ‘Night Time Riders’ (new) and ‘Never Surrender’ (new) contained top-drawer performances and the chilly weather was completely forgotten as the temperature in the compact room climbed. Dio’s ‘Rainbow In The Dark’ gave the crowd an opportunity to sing and the aforementioned ‘Don’t Wait For Me’ brought Cecati front and centre, without any drop in intensity. The songs on 2021’s ‘Wait For The Night’ album were mostly Janevski/Paul Laine co-writes so the melody quotient was never lost amongst the burning riffs and hard-hitting bass and drums. Cassidy Paris repaid the duet favour by joining in for ‘Stronger’ and the forty minutes passed in the blink of an eye. Hopefully we will see the band return for another headline tour sometime soon.

Hard to believe I have not crossed paths with Fury during the last few years. On today’s showing that will never happen again. I will admit to being completely unfamiliar with the Midlands based five-piece, so went into the show without knowing any songs or the band’s musical style. From opening salvo of ‘If You Get To Hell First’ and ‘Hell Of A Night’, then on through ‘Prince Of Darkness’ and ‘Sunrise’, it was difficult not to get drawn into Fury’s enthusiasm and “catchier than a bucket of Covid” songs. Julian Jenkins (vocals/guitar), Becky Baldwin (bass), Nyah Ifill (vocals), Tom Atkinson (guitar) and Tom Fenn (drums) all had energy to burn and the pace never slacked during the seventy-minute set. Judging by the number of Fury shirts it was clear the band have a strong fan-base in place and if it hadn’t been the beginning of a very busy gig week then I would have raided the merch stand for a few items. My future live Fury reviews will have much more detail, once I become acquainted to the healthy back catalogue.

The forty-five mile journey home was much easier after such a fantastic show and it also helped that the rain had stopped. A great way to spend a Sunday afternoon/early evening. The sound, as always, was perfect and the lighting was ideal for a novice photographer such as myself. Both Eleven and The Waterloo Music Bar are such great venues, with friendly staff and character in abundance. Thankfully neither is close to home, or it is likely I would be penniless and an alcoholic by now. Home with the rest of the night to chill but, unfortunately, I had missed ‘Songs Of Praise’.


Review & Photos: Dave Bott




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