Illustr8tors, Sertraline, Twisted Illusion@Star and Garter Manchester, 24.02.17
we were excited to catch alt-rockers illustr8ors during their first headline tour, which was to promote their self-titled EP and also showcase new material which is due to be recorded soon. They had also landed themselves a date in the middle of the tour supporting Courtesans in Leeds which hopefully helped to recruit even more people to their ever-growing fan base.
Opening the show were local prog-rockers Twisted Illusion who appeared tonight as a 3-piece consisting of Matt Jones on lead vocals and guitar, Mark Wagstaff on bass guitar and backing vocals and Matt McDade on drums. Twisted Illusion have an innovative sound with some seriously impressive guitar work and Matt’s vocals are strong and always spot on, with the backing vocals and rhythm section complementing them nicely. They sounded amazing tonight and it was hard to believe there were only 3 of them up there. (Actually, the lighting was so bad that there could have been some more hidden in the shadows!) They have mentioned that they are “casually looking” for another guitarist but sound solid as a trio so will probably be happy to stay this way for a while. Matt got some good banter going with the enthusiastic crowd as we were treated to mainly songs from their latest offering Temple of Artifice; including the catchy, fast-paced ‘Hatred is a Virtue’ and closing number ‘Online and In Line’, and also a great cover of Deep Purple’s ‘Burn’. A great set from 3 very talented guys.
Next up was Sertraline who played on the same bill as illustr8ors when they both supported Toseland last year. illustr8ors were suitably impressed and immediately thought of them when booking a main support for this gig. The set began with a dramatic intro track, with the band members standing with their backs to the crowd, then they launched straight into the first song with gusto. Vocalist Lizzie encouraged the crowd to come forward and fill the gap in front of the stage which they did willingly. Unfortunately tonight Sertraline were without their bass player who had Carpal Tunnel Syndrome so he had to sit it out, therefore some of the bass was provided by a backing track. We were introduced to latest single ‘Change of Heart’ from the new EP Guilty and it sounded brilliant, with Lizzie’s powerful vocals switching easily from clean to dirty, and some full on rock riffs. There was a change of pace with the melodic ‘I Admit the Blame’ then things kicked back up for the next few numbers.‘Nyeevise’ from the latest EP stood out, with beautiful intricate guitars and excellent vocals backed up again by that groovy yet hard-rocking rhythm section. Lizzie really engaged with the crowd, and her energy seemed to know no bounds. Sertraline’s set ended with the anthemic ‘All Choked Up’ from debut EP Bury the Ghosts.
illustr8ors opened their set in style with the rocking ‘Something Biblical’ to get us going, then this flowed straight into new song ‘Dangerous Times’. Vocalist Scott Sharp introduced the band and the funky ‘Won’t Bury Me’ was up next with a great bass groove running throughout that got everyone dancing. illustr8ors have a great stage presence with Scott dancing, jumping and grooving all the way through and keeping the crowd engaged, and the 3 guitarists looking as though they are thoroughly enjoying every minute as they rock out, especially rhythm guitarist Jason. Scott’s vocal range is just brilliant and the band gel together really well with the lead and rhythm guitars working together beautifully, backed up by the brilliantly funky rhythm section. illustr8ors write songs from the heart and each one has meaning, probably none more so than the uplifting ‘Swimming With Anchors’ which is taken from the EP and was introduced as being about picking yourself up and carrying on when things get particularly tough. We were treated to a couple more brand new songs including the melodic yet catchy ‘Cellophane Dreams’ which they have only started playing on this tour, and then the set ended on ‘Your Animal’- a rocking sing-along number from the EP that’s a great finisher. The crowd wasn’t ready to go home yet and shouted for an encore so the band had to gather together as they admitted this was a bit unexpected, (and joking, “We don’t have any more songs!”) and then decided to play us another new one, the hauntingly atmospheric ‘Stratosphere’.
Every song was a winner tonight and I for one can’t wait to hear all the new tracks recorded. If this tour has been anything to go by illustr8ors are going from strength to strength and there are clearly exciting times ahead. Look out for them on the gig and festival circuit and pick up a copy of their self-titled EP in the meantime- you won’t regret it.
- Something Biblical
- Dangerous Times
- Won’t Bury Me
- Swimming With Anchors
- Mighty Fine High Horse
- Shush Shush
- Cellophane Dreams
- Your Animal
Review: Rachel McMurdo
Photos: Fiona Harold