On Friday night at Plug in Sheffield, a select crowd was treated to music of the finest by American rockers Candlebox, who were supported by the fantastic Pete RG and outstanding Jeff Angell’s Staticland.
Expecting long cues on a Friday night in a city famous for its musical heritage, I was surprised to find the show relegated to the small stage and only a handful of fans in attendance when Pete RG took to the stage. Ever the professionals, this did not through the quintet from California off their game and they delivered a soul-warming bluesy rock set that could have stood up in any big venue.
Appreciating the fans that had turned out, Pete and his band made sure to engage with everyone during and after the show, handing out guitar picks, talking to fans, and watching the rest of the show from the audience. The expressive mix of slow blues and double-time hard rock, and everything in between, made their set one to remember for a long time.
Following Pete RG’s set was going to be a tough ask, but one that Jeff Angell’s Staticland more than lived up to. Running out of befitting superlatives to describe the musical prowess of this trio, I can simply describe them as ‘awesome!’ with flawless drumming and perfectly phrased guitar playing. Ever the showman, Jeff spent a good portion of the set singing from the audience, walking around and engaging with fans.
Staticland’s impeccable musical abilities and change in tempo between songs made the set fly by and when it was over left the audience asking ‘was that it?’ It turned out that fans had bought tickets to see Staticland as headliners and were rather disappointed to find out that the set had been cut short. For me, this disappointment was reflected in Staticland’s performance, which at times felt disconnected and, pardon the pun, static, despite searching for contact with the audience.
25 years on from their early days and Candlebox had lost little of the intensity and energy that we have come to love them for. Opening with wonderful energy and a raspy voice, reminiscent of Glenn Danzig on a good day, lead singer Kevin Martin kept up the great atmosphere of the evening. The growing crowd was in for a very special musical treat. Unlike many bands, who have been going for as long as Candlebox and simply recant old hits, the rockers from Seattle were here to have a good time, playing songs from their new album Disappearing in Airports and old classics.
Ever the entertainer, Martin handed over the playlist to a front row fan and asked her to tell him which songs to play throughout the evening. The reward for the efforts was a close-up personal serenade. A fair deal, I’d say. It was clear that the majority of the crowd was here to see Candlebox, with the audience singing along to all songs, fast and slow, old and new.
Before we knew it, the show was over. Succumbing to the financial pressures of running a business, the artists had to make way to the generic nightclub experience – to the dismay of the bands and audience. But hey, we were all treated to a fantastic evening of beautiful rock tunes, wonderful showmanship, and a bloody good time.
My final thoughts of the evening were that all three bands were outstanding and could have easily headlined. I for one will take every opportunity to see Pete RG, Jeff Angell’s Staticland, and Candlebox again when they next come to our shores, hopefully to a larger crowd.