British rock quintet Toseland, fronted by double World Superbike champion James Toseland, are fresh off a run of support slots with Status Quo; in fact the evening before they played The Sugarmill they were in Glasgow supporting the mighty Quo. In between the support dates they had managed to fit in some headline shows of their own, making for a hectic couple of months on the road.
Supporting Toseland tonight were local bands Blue Origin and The Event. The Event came on stage one-by-one to their own individual intro music and lots of strobe lighting which was a good touch, and when the 4 band members were all in place they kicked straight into the rocking ‘My Mind’. The bass player made the most of the raised platforms at the front of the stage and the frontman attempted to get the crowd singing along but there wasn’t much response to begin with. As the show went on the crowd warmed up and were soon joining in. These guys have a heavy rock sound with some great tunes. ‘What it Feels Like’ which is going to be released as a single soon went down particularly well, but I think they need to work on their self-promotion as I couldn’t find any information on The Event despite searching various websites and Social Network sites!
Next up were Blue Origin, a hard rock/metal 5-piece who began their set with a 3-guitar mosh to ‘Take Your Pills’ which led into the more melodic ‘Whatever Happened’, to which vocalist Nick Pilgrim got the audience singing along. Both these songs are off the unsigned band’s debut album Somnium which was funded by fans, and following these Nick announced that the rest of the set would be “popping the cherry” of some new songs. The new material got a great reaction which wasn’t surprising as there were some excellent tunes in there and Nick has a really good vocal range. The last of their own songs, ‘Set the World Alight’ ended with heavy, moshing riffs and strobe lights, and the band finished their set with a cover of T-Rex’s ‘Children of the Revolution’. With great reviews from the likes of Kerrang! Magazine and Classic Rock Magazine, and also endorsement from some big names such as Orange Amps it surely won’t be long before Blue Origin are signed and get the fame they deserve.
The moment we had all been waiting for arrived as Toseland took to the stage to almost overwhelming cheering, whistling and clapping. Frontman James Toseland had a huge grin on his face from the moment he came onstage until the very end of the set. He seemed surprised that so many people had turned out to see them mid-week in a very cold Stoke venue. There was an obvious presence of motorbike racing fans in the audience (including me!) and James made a few references to his previous career, at one point thanking the crowd for accepting him for doing something different, and joking after one particularly energetic number that he felt like he’d just done 5 laps of the TT course. No matter where and how the fans first got to know him they were there to rock, and nobody was disappointed.
Toseland opened with ‘Gotta be a Better Way’, a catchy, foot-stomping anthem that got everyone moving right away, followed by the equally rocking ‘Burning the System’ and ‘Singer in a Band’, then the slightly bluesier ‘Emergency’. Toseland’s tech, Nigel, wheeled a keyboard onstage and when he was introduced everyone started chanting his name! James played keys along to ‘Life is Beautiful’ then there was a change of pace with the next song ‘Just No Way’, a power ballad that showed James’ voice off beautifully. This song was written by Toby Jepson (Little Angels frontman and producer/co-composer of Toseland’s album, amongst others) and given to Toseland to make their own. The keys stayed on for the next song ‘Kingdoms’ then they were taken off again and the band launched into a cover of ‘Reward’ by The Teardrop Explodes followed by Elvis Costello’s ‘Pump it Up’. There were three songs left of the main set which were all taken from their debut album Renegade, released earlier in 2014 and which charted at number 65. They finished with the current single ‘Crash Landing’ which is a huge rock song that the crowd lapped up. James had great banter with the crowd all the way through and nobody needed encouragement to clap along in time to the songs. The whole band were real showmen and there were some blistering solos from the guitarists
Toseland left the stage and the shouts of “More!” grew louder and louder (along with chants of “Nigel!” as he wheeled the keyboard back on) and the band took to the stage once more to thunderous applause and cheering. Yorkshireman James admitted he was “a little bit chuffing overwhelmed” by the response, which just drew even more claps and cheers. He looked genuinely emotional as he waited for things to calm down slightly, then the guys kicked into their version of Elton John’s ‘Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting’. They brought the show to a close with their single ‘Renegade’, the song that probably harnesses the 80s/90s rock influence of Jepson the most of all their material. The band took a bow and thanked the crowd yet again for their support, and looked overjoyed at the reaction they received.
Toseland have clearly gained a massive following since their formation and it was great to see such enthusiasm from both the fans and the band. They are an excellent band who rock hard and I can’t wait to hear what they’ve got in store for us, hopefully in the not-too-distant future.
1) Gotta be a Better Way
2) Burning the System
3) Singer in a Band
5) Life is Beautiful
6) Just No Way
8) Reward-(The Teardrop Explodes cover)
9) Pump it Up-(Elvis Costello cover)
10) Comin’ to Get Ya
11) Good Eye Blind
12) Crash Landing
13) Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting- (Elton John cover)
Review: Rachel McMurdo