As far as venues go, The Yardbirds is a hard one to place. Home to the ‘Lincolnshire Warlocks’, an aging biker gang with a fondness for self-promotion and Americana, its purpose is oddly divided. Functioning partly as a biker crèche and partly as a tribute band support centre, you’d be forgiven for presuming that nothing of any real creative merit occurred within these walls. But thankfully, every now and again, they open their doors to original bands and patrons who can’t ride a bicycle, let alone a Harley. Although you’re greeted with a grunt and a deeply suspicious look, the drinks don’t require a bank loan and the atmosphere isn’t that frightening. Oddly, they have a projector running continuous live music DVDs and a sound system so powerful, it damn near dropkicks your eardrums. As far as the evening was going so far, the £6 entry wasn’t looking too bad, but with only one support band, we are all very aware that we wouldn’t be partying into the early hours.
Opening the evening of glamour and time-restricted debauchery were Scunthorpe’s finest Scarlett Riot (4/5), a hard rock outfit that sat comfortably somewhere between The Runaways and Halestorm. With amazingly catchy riffs and an originality that begs to be captured in an overly-expensive studio, to say they were impressive would be a huge understatement. I found myself to be truly aghast at how such a musically accomplished act could still be playing the lower realms of support slots. Nearly every song could have been deemed ‘a future classic’. As far as vocalists go, they’ve certainly got themselves a catch with Scarlett (Chloe Drinkwater) bearing a voice so rich and multi-faceted that you’d be hard pressed to admit she was born to do anything other than sing. Oh, and she’s pretty decent on the guitar too? Consider me sold. Saying that, the rest of the band were by no means surplus to requirements. The lead guitarist shone at every available opportunity and the drummer (despite being sat ridiculously high on his kit) was clean and crisp with a great natural groove. The bassist continued the trend and was certifiably hypnotic throughout their set, capturing my attention in every song; although his posture did impact slightly on the quality of his screams (although they were few and far between). Scarlett Riot were professional, original and more than a little bit exciting. With a new EP on the horizon, I’m sure their name will be cropping up a hell of a lot more.
When Fatal Smile (5/5) took to the stage, there were stunned looks and audible gasps aplenty. Imagine Motley Crüe had a sordid affair with The Defiled…in Sweden, all while listening to Queensryche, and you’ve just about got it. Fatal Smile encapsulates everything you ever loved about hard rock and glam, then they went and pushed it a little further. With big hair, bare torsos, tight jeans, pyrotechnics and sex dripping from every pore… they certainly know how to make an impression. Harnessing the power chords and dirty grooves of 80s rock, they mix them with the vocal delivery of a European power metal band and create something rather bafflingly wonderful. This blend results in an overall sound that is both nostalgic and simultaneously fresh. The entire experience, at least in a venue of this diminutive size, was jarring to say the least. With enough stage makeup to make Black Veil Brides weep, smoke machines and lights crammed into every corner and custom mic stands that could well have cost more than the venue itself, the whole experience was akin to cramming an arena band into your living room. When their set came to a close, the powerful strains of their anthemic S.O.B transformed this tiny, sticky room into something far greater than any of us could’ve imagined. Although audience numbers couldn’t have exceeded seventy, they played their show as though we were ten thousand strong. They certainly won Grimsby over; it’s just a matter of time until the rest of the world follows suit.