Melodic rock heroes take a short studio break to flex their considerable live muscles.
The fact that I Am I are playing the Basement at Rock City, Nottingham, rather than the main room is an indictment of the modern music culture rather than any failing on the bands part.
For those unfamiliar, I Am I, led by former DragonForce main man ZP Theart, tick all the required boxes to be an arena filler. Riffs, melody, hooks are all covered with consumate ease. Add a charismatic frontman and the world is their lobster.
Whilst “comedy” rockers like Steel Panther stalk the cover of many a rock and metal magazine there are bands such as I Am I who are making vital melodic hard rock music to keep the genre alive and kicking rather than earn a living by celebrating the ridiculousness of it all.
Before the headliners take the stage we are entertained by a young local hard rocking four-piece making their debut who go by the name of Beckon Lane. The name sounds like it was made up by Simon Cowell for some god awful teen boyband. Happy to report that’s not the case as this band serve up a power packed racket of grunge riffs fused with mid-eighties sensibilities. A debut EP is on the horizon and will be more than worth checking out. Would advise a name change though fellas.
Belfast quartet Ajenda follow and open with “Dirty Rock n Roll” and despite initial sound issues get the sparse crowd going with their brand of well, erm……….Dirty Rock n Roll.
Vocalist Jen cuts a vibrant and energetic figure even on the small stage. She has more than a touch of the Brody Dalle’s about her and tracks like “Hatred and Greed” shows off her vocal talents to the fullest.
At times its Skunk Anansie or Pink. Other times it’s akin to Halestorm. It’s all good stuff though whatever the influence. They debuted a new track “Fables” which slowed down the pace and showcased the darker and more melancholic side of the band…….until the chorus anyway and then it’s business as usual. Interesting times ahead for this band.
Up and coming young whippersnappers with a penchant for rock n roll is a joy to see but watching a seasoned pros with thunder in their heart and fire in their belly is quite another.
As soon as the obligatory dry ice settles on come I Am I.
The opening strains of “This Is My Life” get the party started, to borrow the aforementioned Pink‘s phrase, and so begins vocalist ZP’s version of a “cockney walkabout” as he ambles through the crowd shaking hands, posing for photos and generally enjoying himself.
Once he manages to force himself back on the stage the awesome “In The Air Tonight” roars into life. A melodic rock masterpiece if ever there was one. “Inside Of Me” isn’t far behind in terms of timing or quality.
Given the rather meagre attendance for such a fine band you may forgive them for playing a little half-heartedly. Not an option. The band are here to play some music and have a damn good time.
The highest compliment I could pay, their brilliant music aside, is that this performance would have been exactly the same if it were in front of 10,000 people at the O2 Arena. Many bands/artists would claim the same attitude, but not that many would follow it through with the conviction that these men do.
Less than 18 months ago fellow rockers The Temperance Movement were playing to similar crowds. Tonight, Maximum Volume’s chief, Andy, is watching them destroy a packed out Birmingham Institute. It can happen. It will happen.
“Wasted Wonder”, another world-beater of a track, is cranked to 11 and illustrates how tight this lineup have become. A couple of months in deepest, darkest Derbyshire writing and recording their new album has not only produced outstanding new music but has also allowed them to bond and become one.
Handily enough, “We Are One” is the title of a brand new track aired for the very first time tonight. Put simply, it’s a monster. Any brand new track that gets the full chorus crowd singalong by the time the second chorus kicks in you know it’s destined for the classic category.
There will be thousands of Nottingham having a miserable time tonight. Those in attendance in the basement of Rock City however were not amongst them. I Am I’s time is coming and when it comes get yourself ready because it’s going to be a hell of a ride.
I Am I. You Are You. We Are One.