nxb3 on tour – Max Raptor at The Duchess, York

This was the fourth time I’ve seen Max Raptor in the last 10 months and it was another great performance by the band from Burton on Trent. They are usually described as a punk band but to me they are more of a punk/metal hybrid who have successfully carved out a niche between the two genres.
The band took to the stage at about 9:50 and Will greeted the audience with “Hello York, how you all doing”, following up with “gather round and bring yourselves in” to the smallish crowd scattered around the venue. The opening track of the set was the usual ‘Obey the Whips’ from their debut mini album “Portraits” which was followed by their first single ‘Breakers’ taken from their first full CD, “Mothers Ruin”. It was back to Portraits for ‘The Alarm’, a track I’ve never seen them play live before followed by the brilliant ‘Patron Saint of Nothing’ which saw Will trying to whip the crowd up into a pogoing frenzy but not really succeeding. It was back to Mothers Ruin for a run of tracks back to back starting with the great ‘Back of a Barrel Wave’, followed by ‘Must Work Harder’, ‘Grace and Favours’ and ‘Evangeline’. A bit of warming up the crowd to help sing ‘England Breathes’ and then they finished off with the brilliant ‘The King is dead’ which is still one of the best tracks I’ve seen played live these last couple of years.
The band put an enormous amount of effort and energy into getting the smallish crowd worked up into a decent mosh pit and although it kicked off a few times it was never sustained, dying away after a minute or so. They kept on trying though, right up to the end of the set but the crowd only responded sporadically and only when Will was encouraging them.
The set was only 40 minutes and should have been longer for the headline act, especially as the gig finished around 10:30. ‘Beasts’ and ‘The Great and the Good’ were glaring ommisions from the setlist, maybe if the crowd reaction had been better they would have been done as an encore .
It can’t be long before these lads break through and start getting much larger crowds to their gigs, they definitely deserve to be getting more recognition and attention than they are receiving now.
It’s the only time I’ll catch this tour but I’ll definitely be seeing them again later in the year.




nxb3 on tour – Islet at Baltic39, Newcastle

Islet are a band that I’ve wanted to see for a long time now, approaching two years but they seemed to only ever play in the north east when I was working offshore so when I found out about this gig at Baltic39 as a closing event for the RIFF festival I wasted no time in booking a place for the gig which was held in the gallery project space on the 4th floor.
At just after 9:30 they started moving slowly through the crowd from the back of the hall towards the stage ringing small hand held bells which got progressively louder as they approached the stage. The bells continued as they reached the stage and the drums joined in, quietly at first but building up into a crescendo as Emma, who was jumping around like she was possessed by a demon, burst into the yelping vocals of the magnificent opener ‘This Fortune’. After the abrupt ending to the track there was a bit of a stunned silence from the capacity crowd before they burst into applause, most people just weren’t expecting such a wild opening track. How are you all doing she asked the audience after trying to persuade the crowd to move forward, doing quietly she carried on to herself when no one answered. She moved over to be the second drummer and Mark took over the vocals for the next tracks ‘Ringerz’ and ‘Triangulation Station’.
Another change round followed with Emma taking control of the drum kit, and John taking on the guitar for the rest of the set which started with ‘Entwined Pines’ and the much quieter ‘Dust of Ages’. The pace picked up a bit with ‘What we Done Wrong’ and ‘Iris’, then Mark then took time out to thank the gallery / festival curators before continuing with ‘Tripping Through the Blue Room I & II’. More thanks from Mark, this time for Ewan Jones Morris who was responsible for the video show that accompanied the bands performance. The instrumental ‘Sails Billow and Swell’ served as an introduction to the last track ‘Carlos’.
This was an exceptional performance from a band that are not afraid to experiment, band members rotating through the instruments, taking turns on the vocals and regularly wandering through the audience with the hand held and strings of bells they used for the set intro. I wish I’d managed to see them earlier in their career (they have been together since 2009) and needless to say they are high up on my list of bands that I have to see again.
The gig was filmed by the Baltic so hopefully it will make an appearance as an official release from either the band and/or the gallery
A really good start to 2014, and I’m hoping for a few more gigs to match the really high standard of this one.