Rock returns to the Pig & Drum, Worcester - 16.03.12

After a short period as let's say an 'alternative' venue, the Pig & Drum in Worcester's Lowesmoor has returned to doing what it's been doing pretty well over the years - being the grimiest, noisiest and sweatiest little venue in the two counties! This was just about the only place where you could catch the sort of of hardcore punk, grime and metal that other venues wouldn't touch with a bargepole - but the music was a little more mainstream last week though when I checked it out.

It was good to see that a lot of the regulars who'd been effectively excluded from the Pig a while ago when it 're-themed' had returned - and I have to say a massive round of applause to youngsters SJS who faced up to probably the most challenging crowd they'll have encountered in their musical journey so far - and passed with absolute flying colours.

I was absolutely impressed with their stage presence - especially, of course, frontman James Mattey who's matured alarmingly quickly over the last couple of years into an axeman of total quality - with absolutely no frills or gimmicks. Maybe even just a year or so ago I would've rated their chances at such a venue as not good but they've acquired confidence and capability through sheer hard work on the gigging front - backed up with some cracking numbers like Can't Find My Way and Coming Back. The highlight for me on the night though was Use Somebody.

The Pig crowd are a hard bunch to please - but they know quality when they see and hear it - and SJS passed with flying colours on the night - which tells me of very good times ahead for this oh-so-promising trio.

I call it the 'Zebedy Rays Syndrome' - make sure you put the band that brings the largest number of followers last on the bill - and I reckon there's not many other local outfits with such a solid following as the Droitwich-based ex-trio and now quartet The Crooked Empire. While they're a cracking bunch of rock 'n' rollers with brilliantly hummable numbers like Bruises and Take You Out - regulars will know that there's a certain sauciness to numbers like Baby Bye that make The Crooked Empire pretty much 'parental advisory' - which of course means that they went down a storm at a jampacked Pig! It's not all smut from start to finish - they've got perfect airwave-acceptability with many of their ditties - but they like to throw in a curveball pretty regularly throughout their set. What's beyond doubt though is that they're one of the premier division acts doing the local rounds - and fully deserving of much wider recognition.

Andy O'Hare

Local gigs and music CD reviews

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