Introducing: Fort Hope

When neon-coated electro-hunks My Passion called it a day after seven glorious years, my synthy little heart was well and truly broken. I, like many others, had taken My Passion to heart and spent most of my disposable income shadowing them around the country from show to shining show. So, when the inevitable ‘we’ve moved onto pastures new’ statement surfaced, I was left with two blisteringly good albums, a stack of promo CDs, good memories and a huge, swirling, lyric tattoo. When My Passion were good, they were phenomenal; their throbbing synths and roaring choruses could make the dead dance. After a Kerrang! cover, some lucrative support slots and a delightfully homoerotic ‘golden tour’ (shirtless guys and gold body paint; you had to be there), it seemed that My Passion’s upward trajectory was to continue indefinitely. But then came the silence, the departure of long-standing guitarist John Be (and subsequent employment of Andé D’Mello) and two small festival sets. Kerrang! soon moved on like the fickle mistress it is; shifting its focus towards other visual-centric bands such as Yashin and Fearless Vampire Killers. My Passion ended their reign, not with a bang or a whimper, but with a death rattle. A disappointing performance at Hitchin’s Rhythms of the World festival (where the sound quality could be replicated by placing a bucket on your head and throwing yourself down an elevator shaft) was followed by a prolonged period of silence and then the inevitable; official split via social media. A statement of clichés, followed by a slew of sad emoticons; this wasn’t the crazy hammer-to-the-heart group I fell in love with.
But then came the cryptic tweets; January 13th was a big day. I, like many others, held my breath and hoped for something other than the announcement of yet another small clothing line. Thankfully, the ‘big reveal’ was Fort Hope; a new, far more radio-friendly project from four previous My Passion members. Essentially, everyone except former lead vocalist Laurence Rene. Rene’s absence in Fort Hope is very much the elephant in the room, and I hate to be the arsehole to point it out, but here we are. Was Laurence ostracised, or was his DJing his true passion? (pardon the pun). Was this the reason for My Passion’s demise? The internet is alive with presumptions and conjecture, all of which is hard to ignore. Before one even clicks on Fort Hope’s ‘play’ button, it’d be easy to presume that this would be My Passion 2.0. Same synths, different day. Five seconds in and your preconceptions are not only shattered, but thrown into a blender and strapped to a passing horse. Fort Hope are, in the nicest way, the antithesis of all that My Passion was. Gone are the incomprehensibly bizarre lyrics, gone is the heavy electro influence and gone is the relentless, upbeat dance element. The keyboards have been packed away with all previous pomp and ceremony. Everything has been stripped back to pure, raw musicianship; this isn’t so much as a rebirth as an entirely different beast.
‘Control’ is the only track widely available online, and although it can’t speak for the rest of their music, it certainly acts as a showcase of all Fort Hope’s individual talents and the burgeoning potential of them as a collective. Featuring previous My Passion members in their usual positions (Andé D’Mello – Guitar, Jamie Nicholls – Drums, Simon Rowlands – Bass), the most noticeable difference is with Jon Gaskin. In My Passion over the years, he set his hand to drums, guitar, keyboards/synths and finally, singing. Gaskin is a veritable polymath in the music world. He can turn his hand to seemingly any instrument with impressive results, yet his true talent was made all the more evident in My Passion’s final album ‘Inside this Machine’. Gaskin’s added vocals lifted the entire album. His enviable natural tone and control was made to shine, not to play second fiddle to another vocalist.
In Fort Hope, or more directly, in ‘Control’, his voice is presented raw and naked and is, surprise surprise, bloody fantastic. ‘Control’ begins with exposed vocals, but soon weaves itself an iron web; beautiful and delicate, but strong and well crafted. The track retains its Gentle and tentative sense, but begins to command attention with each bar and phrase. As the song progresses into a thundering chorus, parallels can be soon drawn with the stylings of Young Guns and Mallory Knox. While they all possess a similar sound, ‘Control’ bears a sense of maturity and sincerity that’s hard to replicate. The melody is catchy as hell, the lyrics are well considered and the simple guitar line couldn’t be sweeter if it was remade at Cadbury’s. Finally, and refreshingly, the bass and drums are used as perfect devices to fatten up growing verses and rousing choruses. The falling harmonies in the vocal line ‘out of control’ are so powerful, but so perfectly measured, that any band caught listening would soon find themselves with an attack of the green-eyed monster. Instrumentally, everything is equal; there are no indulgent trills, fills or solos. There really is no fat to trim.
If there ever was a perfect way to rise from the ashes, then Fort Hope not only achieved it, but tore it up, made sweet, sweet love to it and put it on a plinth. If ‘Control’ is the shape of things to come, then I think we might just see the creation of the world’s new favourite band.

The Rise Of The Pre-Order Bundle

I love stuff. Things. Merchandise. Tat. When Bring Me The Horizon decided to make dick shaped silly bands available on their last tour, I was one of the first to the merch desk, cash in hand, close to wailing ‘Fine sir, my life would be enriched with the purchase of overpriced elastic bands that I’ll never open and ultimately leave in a drawer somewhere!’. When My Passion released a delightfully lurid, gold plastic mac for their golden tour, I too decided that I’d spiral into a pit of depression should I not dress myself in a massive metallic bin bag. But my money-scattering doesn’t end with novelty rubbish.

I go to a lot of gigs, I binge, I feel guilty, but then I want more.  It began innocently enough. When I was twelve, I somehow persuaded my mother to take me halfway across the country to see Meatloaf. Naturally, I wanted to get a t-shirt to commemorate the gig, to show my friends how much I loved that chubby warbler (hey, I doubt your first ‘proper gig’ was much cooler). Stupidly and relentlessly, I carried on with this perceived necessity for merchandise well into my teenage years and beyond. As I left home for the first time, I found that I could travel, live out my dream of following a whole tour and see so many bands that I’d wanted to for years. I went mad, travelled everywhere and bought everything. Then it happened. I came home, bought my new life back with me and unpacked it. Have you ever seen a family stage a drug intervention? Seen a mother hold up a small bag of something white and powdery and ask why? Well switch that bag for over one hundred and twenty t-shirts and you’ve got a pretty good idea of the situation. While I’m cold turkey on shirts, I still regularly splash out on pre-orders. Oh merchandise, I just can’t quit you.

When many bands now announce the release date of their new album/EP/single/bowel movement, they also announce the various options by which to pre-order it. We’re no longer offered a CD, the music itself, no! We’re offered the DVD (some of which can be rather good), the commemorative t-shirt, the flag, the belt buckle, the bottle opener, the pencil sharpener and the lenticular poster. Will we ever use them? Of course not. When was the last time you thought ‘What I really need in my life is a commemorative jam jar for the B side of a dodgy single release’. It’s the exclusivity that drags our cursor over to the PayPal button, the threat of missing out on one of fifty. The very idea that we’d miss out on the album with commemorative baseball cap fills us with fear. Our enjoyment of the release will be severely dampened should we not shell out another £15 for things we don’t really want. I for one was sure that I wouldn’t be fully appreciating the full experience of Polar’s Iron Lungs if I didn’t buy the commemorative print. And I certainly wouldn’t enjoy Cradle of Filth’s Darkly, Darkly Venus Aversa without the art prints and the uninspiring t-shirt.  In short, add ‘limited’ to the end of any old thing and you’ve pretty much guaranteed yourself a sale.  Add a countdown to how many are left and you’ve got even more.

It’s hard to figure out which invented the beast of the bundle; the label or the musician. Musicians are more often than not, ‘starving artist’ types, so any means of capitalising on their product is sure to be embraced. But moreso nowadays, even small, unsigned bands are offering their own ‘bundles’ and limited releases. All of which is neither here nor there, but the whole focus of many bands, both established and otherwise, has shifted considerably. Firstly, take My Passion. Opposed to establishing a small merchandise section to their online presence, they formed ‘My Passion Fashion’; a standalone merchandise website that at one time held around twenty t-shirt designs. In the end, following the end of all Inside This Machine promotion, the dust began to settle and My Passion Fashion crumbled. On the other end of the spectrum, there’s the times when non-official band merchandise becomes available; the plectrum or the setlist of the online world. Every now and again, the opportunity arises to own something from a video or from an artist’s personal collection, and this is where prices begin to skyrocket.

All of us at TwoBeatsOff are big fans of Kickstarter-esque self-funding/fan-funding options, but when the options go beyond pledging to buy the CD or offering a small financial boost to an artist, lines begin to blur. Take Yashin’s largely fan-funded We Created A Monster. Through Pledgemusic, fans were able to preorder the CD, get their name in the album sleeve or even attend a meet and greet- all for a price. But many options were beyond self indulgent; fans were able to buy t-shirts worn by the vocalists for sums approaching three figures. This is both frightening both in terms of future trends and of sheer money-grabbing behaviour, especially when you’re aware of the young and impressionable ages of many of your fans. Bring able to own a piece of your favourite artist’s world is, for want of a better term, fan crack. With more bands picking up on this financial power, the distance and power balance between fan and artist may birth a further problematic and destructive relationship.

Broken bones and broken tours – what are these guys up to?

Right now, the UK is sitting in uncertainty over their tour dates. Andy Biersack from Black Veil Brides broke his nose, so Kitteh’s virtually dying inside to see if they’ll finish off their UK tour (not for BVB you understand… My Passion is her passion). Matt Skiba broke his foot last night, so unless he can get a walking cast, the Alkaline Trio UK tour may not be going underway. The atmosphere in our house is unbelievably tense as we await news bulletins, tweets and Facebook statuses. Tours usually get rescheduled, so we might be overreacting. But these are some of our favourite bands that we’re waiting on – in the case of Alkaline Trio, it’s been over a year since their last UK appearance.

So, should dudes in bands start pulling off dangerous stunts while on tour or just before?

My answer is… yes! Of course they should! In the case of Andy from BVB, he gained his injury on stage, presumably doing what he does best. Skiba was out riding his motorbike when a truck got too close at a traffic light and ran over his foot, leaving both the foot and his ankle pretty badly broken. Part of why we love bands so much is not necessarily for the music – it’s for the personalities behind the music. Without their stage antics, or their constant Twitter updates containing information about all the stupid stuff they’ve been doing lately, would we love them just as much?

The same counts for lesser disasters too. Kitteh recently got bashed in the head by Laurence Rene’s mic at a My Passion gig and ended up with whiplash. She didn’t complain about it, she carried on going mental. When Max Bemis lost his voice at a Say Anything tour (possibly the last date they played in Birmingham actually… Guys, get back over here!), we didn’t stress and neither did he. He picked up an acoustic guitar, sent the band off stage, carried on and had us sing half of the songs. Although those last two examples are barely exploits of rebellion and daring-do, we are prepared to carry on, they are prepared to carry on and if they can’t, shit gets rescheduled. Kitteh comes from a different position – she is pretty upset that she might not be able to see My Passion due to someone else’s mistake. But without that reputation, would My Passion be touring with them in the first place? Probably not.

In times like these, all we can do is wish them the best, hold on to our tickets and play some tunes. And if tours go ahead, we can be safe in the knowledge that we will have one pretty interesting night ahead of us. That Say Anything show, despite being cut short, was one of the greatest nights ever – I made some good friends, Max brought some classics out we may otherwise not have heard and I can say that I’ve seen a performance nobody else has. If tours don’t go ahead… well, it’s not like I have a quiet winter without one show.

Review: My Passion – Corporate Flesh Party

Is the ‘Kerrang!’-friendly quartet worth all the hype?

In order to appreciate this album for its creative merits, you must clear your mind of any preconceptions; of any memories of rabid fans or luminous merchandise. My Passion are a band who are inevitably going to be judged by their appearances, and it’s understandable as to why. The Hertfordshire collective are slick, stylish and very, very easy on the eye- but are they all eyeliner and no substance? Their debut album ‘Corporate Flesh Party’ tells us all we need to know.

Corporate Flesh Party opens with the rich and surprisingly heavy offering that is Crazy and Me; a particularly catchy number with a killer bassline. Between each verse is a suitably beefy musical interlude that can’t help but get you moving, or at least tapping your foot. This catchy little ditty also showcases some particularly impressive changes in dynamics, tempo and a subtle and not unpleasant appearance of some mild synths. All in all, a good, upbeat, fun opener.

Although ‘Crazy and Me’ is an inevitable crowd-pleaser, it is within such self assured tracks as Play Dirty that My Passion come into their own. With a particularly impressive mix of synths and raw guitars, they create a memorable, danceable tune with a metal edge. ‘Play Dirty’ boasts a distinctly original sound that I can’t help but find compelling. Although their frequent use of synthesisers can’t help but draw comparisons with such outfits as Enter Shikari, the prominent use of synthesisers is where such similarities end. ‘Play Dirty’ is polished and honed in each element- the dual vocals between their sickeningly multi-talented drummer Jonathan Gaskin and vocalist Lawrence Rene are flawless and incredibly effective in creating a suitably high-energy vibe. Day of the Bees is the second promotional video from the record and is indeed one of the more radio-friendly offerings from the album. Once again, My Passion deliver a suitably fun, synth driven attack that keeps the listener on their toes with an impressive off-beat, bouncy rhythm. ‘Day of the Bees’ proves to be more electro and poppy than the other tracks on ‘Corporate Flesh Party’ but any element of superficiality on this track is swiftly counteracted by some rather fetching screams and powerful breaks in dynamics and the band really deliver on the choruses with a particularly effective use of both vocalists. Never Everland is a surprisingly heavy song, with an introduction of light synths quickly evolving into a far heavier, faster mix. Never Everland also sees the appearance of more variety on the part of Rene, as he introduces more raw, harder features to his vocals. Although ‘Never Everland’ is a very enjoyable track, by now, any listener will have noticed that although My Passion can indeed do music, their lyrics leave a little to be desired. If what you look for in a band is profound, poetic lyrics, I’m afraid you won’t find it with this band, but on the other hand, if you want catchy, fun songs that are great to dance to and will most probably remain in your head for most of the day, then ‘Corporate Flesh Party’ is your sort of album. Personally, as soon as I heard the words ‘clap-trap rubbish’ set to music, I was sold.

Winter for Lovers is a real prize find. While the upbeat, danceable tunes cater to an excitable, live audience, it is with songs such as this that My Passion really showcase their versatility as musicians. ‘Winter for Lovers’ shows a different side to them; a more sensitive, considered, mature side, which really should rear its head more often. Although songs of a slower pace are few and far between on this album, when they do appear, they certainly impress. Once again, the song is weighted towards the chorus, but it doesn’t undergo so many sudden or severe changes in order to get there. Winter for Lovers also possesses some of the most appealing and least odd lyrics of the album, so much so that it even enters understandable territories. Hot in the Dolls House provides a sudden, slightly jarring change of pace and re-entry into the world of ‘live’ My Passion. ‘Hot in the Dolls House’ was in fact, their first demo and, despite this, has aged particularly well, proving itself to be one of the stronger tracks on the album. This track is a particularly self-assured effort with a strong and masterful mix of strong synths and heavy guitars which builds to a fabulous, authentic, raw chant of “No Picture”. Even the outro of this song is bound to get anyone’s heart beat racing that little bit faster. As with ‘Winter for Lovers’, After Calais is another departure from their usual heavy sound. ‘After Calais’ is far more down tempo and unexpectedly delicate, especially considering the nature of the song it follows. The heavier elements of My Passion are put aside for the duration of the track, and a more experimental and softer avenue has been taken. Although putting this ‘wild card’ of a song on the album could be seen as a bit of a risk, it’s a risk that has certainly paid off. After Calais also features some wonderfully clear vocals from both drummer and vocalist which one can only hope will be featured in a greater capacity in the outfit’s future work. Thanks for Nothing is another polished and surprisingly heavy demo from 2009 and most certainly bears the best and most effective use of synths on the album. From a deceptive introduction, heavy verses soon build into clear synth breaks and pounding anthemic chants. There really aren’t enough superlatives to describe the technical mastery in this brief song. The gloriously titled The Fabulous Blood Disco is, initially at least, reminiscent of the famous ‘blood-shower’ club scene in Blade. Despite the wonderfully over-the-top title, this is one of the rather more straightforward and lighter mixes on the album- providing a far milder electro/rock blend. In relation to the rest of the album, I’d say this was one of the weaker tracks, yet that is not to say that it’s bad, it just lacks many of the original qualities found in the rest of the album. Saying that, I’m sure that it’d be far more memorable in a live set. Plastic Flesh Garden is yet another surprising offering, beginning rather down-tempo, as with ‘Winter for Lovers’ and ‘Calais’, and quickly building into something far more upbeat and visceral (in parts, at least). Once again, conflicting elements blend seamlessly together for the choruses and through a swift increase in tempo, and the addition of some more aggressive vocal stylings, My Passion demonstrate the distinct sound that has brought them such a dedicated following. The final track of ‘Corporate Flesh Party’ is the oddly titled Vultures are People Too. It’s a painful cliché to say so, but they really have saved the best ‘till last. This track is my personal favourite of the entire album; I’d even go as far as to call it a musical triumph. ‘Vultures are People Too’ is a real creative explosion, with each member proving their worth through a perfectly crafted outpouring of their individual talents. The song is weirdly beautiful, with odd lyrics that somehow fit with the fluid musical stylings perfectly. It features an odd mix of styles and techniques that really shouldn’t meld together that well, but everything seems to come full circle into a perfect mix. For a four minute song, it is surprisingly diverse and certainly gives the impression of being an epic piece of work. The strange, almost a cappella ‘outro’ proves to be a perfect and suitably haunting end to the album.

Overall, My Passion are hard to pin down and label, as much as magazines would like to- heck, even the band themselves struggle to give a name to their sound. Considering the style of their songs changes so often, one can’t help but think that this is one of the features that’ll be first to go if big record labels get their hands on the band. At times, their sound is so diverse, it seems rather jarring, and subsequently, I should be calling out for consistency. But personally, I believe My Passion to be one of those special musical jewels that only comes around once in a blue moon, and they should be cherished for it. You aren’t supposed to understand, analyse or unpick My Passion (rendering this review slightly useless), just open your ears, close your eyes to their image and appreciate them for what they are- four incredibly talented musicians. Or, alternatively, look upon them as three wonderful musicians, and one drummer who has surely ripped a hole in time and space under the crippling weight of his talents. All in all, ‘Corporate Flesh Party’ is, to smack a label on it, a ‘must-have album’, whether you’re a goth, metalhead, punk, scene-kid, whatever. Chances are, those who swing towards the heavier spectrum of things will have to mark the album as a guilty pleasure – that won’t matter. My Passion are a force to be reckoned with and, if they keep their sound and don’t bend to the pressures of the industry, their 2010 offering should be mind-blowing.

4.5 high fives out of 5!

Live: Kill Hannah – O2 Academy Birmingham 2, 8/5/10

Picture the scene: Midnight, Saturday 8th May 2010. Against the flickering glow of streetlights, a girl stumbles towards her rented accommodation. Her clothes are sodden, reeking of beer and sweat. She’s lost a contact lens and gained a swelling (thanks to a sudden, unexpected ninja-kick to the face). In a scene reminiscent of ‘The Crystal Maze’, she wrestles with a bent key and runs into her bathroom. She showers, rubbing the grime from her hair with an unnaturally erotic relish. She leaves, sits on her bed and tries to process the night’s events. Thankfully, the police don’t need to be called. The girl has returned from a gig. The bands were Kill Hannah, My Passion and Octane OK, and she had no idea what she’d let herself in for.

I’m a ‘gothy type’; pessimistic and proud of it. I like melancholy music and monochrome t-shirts. I wear corsets to lectures and read Edgar Allan Poe in a fully non-ironic fashion! I thought I had this thing covered, I thought I knew who I was – that is, until tonight.

Firstly, I like Kill Hannah, but I’ve always regarded them as one of my secret guilty pleasures – something only your nearest and dearest need to know about. You file such pleasures away with the other unnatural urges you have – like how you like to sniff flannels and new sponges, or how you secretly love to stick your head in a washing machine after the cycle’s finished. Basically, they’re great, but let’s face it; they’re as dark and sinister as a Labrador puppy shitting marshmallows.

My first introduction to Kill Hannah, like many of us in the UK, was in 2007 when they supported HIM on their Venus Doom tour. Although they didn’t sing about unrequited love, satanic temptresses or torturing butterflies, their upbeat, high-energy ditties had me hooked. By the time Matt Devine (vocals) belted out those last few lines of ‘Lips Like Morphine’ I knew I had to see this band again, on their own shiny, happy terms. Three years later, that chance finally came- A headline tour, with an unfamiliar (to me, at least) support band. While queuing outside the venue, I was particularly surprised by the great lack of merch-laden Kill Hannah fans; while much of the crowd fulfilled my physical expectations, being waifish and heavily pierced with hair to rival Rainbow Brite’s, the majority seemed to be emblazoned with small heart designs. While Kill Hannah drew me, it seems the support band, My Passion, drew the masses.

I’m not going to beat around the bush, I loathe squealing fangirls and scenekids as much as the next self-respecting person, and being surrounded by them was slightly intimidating. Not in that they looked remotely fearsome, or that I envied their retina-melting fashion choices, but because they made me feel so damn old. It’s a hard fact to admit, but these kids didn’t come out of the womb with those piercings, I’d shuffled through my little northern life while these kids were networking, dancing and shoving pins in each other. I’m coming up for twenty, but in this environment, it may as well have been fifty. Jesus, I mean, these kids couldn’t even remember the ‘golden age’ of Nu-Metal! (Okay, I admit it was far from a Golden Age, but humour me – nostalgia’s all I’ve got to keep me going before arthritis sets in).

The gig itself was held in the Birmingham O2 Academy 2. Being a foreigner to these parts, this was an unfamiliar venue, but, like much of the evening, turned out to be a rather pleasant surprise. Unlike many other venues I’ve frequented over the years, the door staff were pleasant and efficient and for once, made sure everyone kept their place in line- no fangirls were going to come to blows over queue-jumping (which, coming from someone who’s been to their fair share of HIM gigs, is a familiar, yet unpleasant sight). After tottering in from the back of the queue, me and my companion did the ‘usual merch run’, spending our hard earned student loan (!) on over-priced t-shirts and novelty necklaces as so to beat the post-show rush.

After shunning the crowded bar and taking our place in amongst the backcombed masses, the first band soon took to the stage, the snappily titled ‘Octane OK’ . These four guys from Birmingham really brought the goods, and provided a high-energy fun set of harmless pop-punk ditties. Octane OK have a particularly well-polished radio friendly sound to them, and it really is only a matter of time until we see their fresh Brummie faces grace the ‘introducing’ pages of Kerrang! While they did indeed provide a suitably danceable opening, it could be said that (in places) some of their songs seem to be far too derivative of All Time Low (which resulted in a number of painfully predictable choruses and chants). As for the aesthetics of the group, it could not be ignored that these lads loved their v-necks, with their bassist taking the neckline into ‘chest-porn’ territories. And, while we really should’ve been listening to their music and appreciating their high-energy stage antics, their lustrous hair proved far more compelling to watch.

Having never listened to My Passion before, and not being terribly aware of the extent of their rabid following, I was in no way prepared for the set I was about to witness. Before My Passion took to the stage for their sound check, the excitement in the room was thick like London fog, with a distinct crush beginning to occur in the front rows of the excitable crowd. As My Passion’s peroxide guitarist, John Be took to the stage to the stage to tune his guitar, the screams were deafening. The same reaction was received by each member, aside from My Passion’s elegantly coiffed frontman, Mr Lawrence Rene. The noises emitted from the waifish girls crushed against that metal barrier were not dissimilar to that of a jet engine (if a jet engine wore fishnets and eye liner). Aesthetically, the band command attention- with their monochrome outfits, hair and guitars, they look like a band with a clear idea of who they are, and what they’re here to do. My Passion are also particularly lucky in that each member would not look out of place pinned to a teenage girl’s bedroom – the dramatically good looks held within this quartet are sickening

Yet from the first few bars of the anthemic ‘Day of the Bees’, no-one could be in any doubt that My Passion are going to be huge, and not just a pretty flash in the pan. With a melodic blend of synths and heavy guitar-ridden choruses, My Passion have carved their own niche and have sculpted a fresh and exciting sound all of their own. During their brief set, My Passion pumped out tune after blinding tune. The passion (excuse the pun) and raw energy within the foursome is truly breathtaking, with each member clearly relishing their time on stage and the very vocal adoration of their fans. As a frontman, Lawrence Rene is faultless, throwing himself, and his guitar, around the stage as though he were wired into the mains. The energy from their live performance was contagious, and soon, the whole audience was moving as one, hanging onto each chord and each considered word. The crowd-pleasing ‘Crazy and Me’ and polished ‘Never Never Land’ finale proved that they are indeed the much-needed voice of the Kerrang generation.

After My Passion returned backstage, a noticeable portion of the crowd seemed to move away from their choice spots against the barrier, towards the back of the room (Yet as soon as Kill Hannah take to the stage, many of the My Passion fans realised they’d made a clear mistake and soon ploughed back into the crowd). After a suitably dramatic, smoke-filled entrance, the Chicago collective took to the stage with ‘Mouth to Mouth’, a particularly powerful opener from their new Album ‘Wake up the Sleepers’. With a carefully considered blend of old and new material, Kill Hannah, and their stylish frontman, Mat Devine command the stage with great ease and grace. Devine’s amusing reckless demands for ‘a tidal wave of crowd-surfers’ and generally amusing banter entranced and entertained us all, ensuring that there was no dip in energy and excitement, even if some songs were down tempo. Although Kill Hannah jokily refer to themselves as a ‘fag band’ and are seemingly inoffensive, the crowd madness brought about by Devine’s crazy demands was like nothing I’ve experienced in years – the moshing and synchronised pogo-ing brought the room to fever pitch. And oddly, the multiple kicks to the face I sustained through Converse-wearing surfers could all be forgiven thanks to Devine’s infectious rock ‘n roll attitude. The music of Kill Hannah has undergone a great evolution from their ‘American Jet Set’ days in 1999, yet their Killer Hooks and raw energy has remained intact in their work and, after so many years of touring, still retain a clear belief and passion in their music, which is a trait lacking in so many bands of a similar ilk. After listening to their beautiful cover of The Cure’s ‘Just Like Heaven’, and their surprise performance of American Jet Set’s title track, it was clear that Devine and co. were more than capable of providing the gig of a lifetime.

Anyone attending this cramped little Birmingham gig could not be failed to be blown away by the energy and sheer dedication of both My Passion and Kill Hannah- indeed members of both stayed long after the gig had finished to sign merchandise and pose with waiting fans. The UK needs more bands like Kill Hannah, but while they’re back in their homeland, My Passion will be ready and waiting to entertain the masses. Catch them both while you can, as they’re sure to go stratospheric, but whatever you do, don’t forget to bring your eyeliner.