The question is not a new one as to why some bands are playing venues like The Station. This is not meant with any disrespect to The Station, a quirky upstairs venue which holds a small stage with an impressive and boisterous sound, friendly bar staff and – eat your heart out price gouging at festivals – less than £4 a pint of cider. With Birmingham and the home of Black Sabbath and Judas Priest just 20 miles south of Cannock, there is a rich rock music heritage in the locality and venues like The Station are at the heart of the grass roots, emerging acts as well as established bands and it is a privilege to witness acts such as Edge Of Paradise and Temperance in such an intimate setting.
Under the banners of Ignite The Stars and International Women Of Rock, the tour will have taken in ten United Kingdom dates where Edge Of Paradise and Temperance share headlining status with main support Carved in tow but along the way, the tour has had such bands as Hellcats joining on some dates. Following the Semblant-like Carved it is Los Angeles based quintet Edge Of Paradise that opens the headlining proceedings in spectacular style. A modern metal band with shades of industrial, symphonic and classical with – dare it be said – pop hooks and fronted by vocalist, pianist and artist Margarita Monet, Edge Of Paradise released their latest record The Unknown in 2021, two years after the equally excellent Universe.
It is The Unknown that nine of the ten song set list is culled and kicking off with You Touch You Die. From the off Monet is never still, owning the stage and accentuating points or breaks in songs with punches in the air or tipping her head back for the power notes. Monet has an extraordinary range to her voice that never once ceases to be engaging or enthralling. Even when Margarita is not singing – such as during the solo in Digital Paradise – she paces the stage which is too small to contain her and the prowling is pent up and ready to hit the next high note. By comparison, guitarist and co-song writer Dave Bates keeps the riffing tight and measured while rarely looking up from his instrument, meanwhile second guitarist David Ruiz is a mass of flailing hair as he goes back and forth into the rhythm. Set highlight Tidal Wave has it all and is where drummer Jamie Moreno comes into his own; the steady thump on the verse and on the pre-chorus as Monet adds that slight edge to her vocals, Moreno’s snare has a military beat before Monet belts out a stunning chorus and Bates rips the front row a new one with the solo.
Edge Of Paradise’s music is well produced and with a futuristic (hu)man v digital quality but even with the vulnerability of the live stage, the amount of control that Edge Of Paraside has is a joy to watch; there is not a single moment where it is not a feast for the eyes and ears and the live environment adds tone and colour to their recorded music and the extra dimension makes for an immersive experience. Fire – the only track from Universe – is an incendiary inclusion and both Leaving Earth are both more mid pace and atmospheric grind until both get to their respective choruses. One Last Time is something of a sonic chameleon which packs a lot into it’s near five minutes and another rip roaring solo and Bates is never over-showy with his skill and chooses to keep a controlled reign of the fretboard and letting his fingers do all of the talking. The Unknown album highlight My Method Your Madness translates well to stage but False Idols is another where drummer Jamie Moreno brings superior skill supporting the chugging guitar. Closing the set with the title track, Monet’s voice is both sultry and dream-like and a rare moment of stillness until that chorus and which just shakes the core.
It is over all too soon and while there was no time to waste in long drawn out chats, Margarita Monet is genuinely grateful to those that turned out and references how long it has been since the band toured the UK. For anyone in attendance that did not actually know Edge Of Paradise, surely none could say that they were disappointed or not entertained but this is a band that could grace huge stages and still fill them – such is their presence. On the back of this tour hopefully, word of mouth will help bring that to fruition.
Someone has to close the show and the task falls to Italian quintet Temperance, a genius mix of power metal elements, with progressive and folksy touches. While time does of course tick, the stage is cleared in record time and both bassist Luca Negro and guitarist/vocalist Marco Pastorino appear in front of drummer Alfonso Mocerino to huge cheers with co vocalists Alessia Scolletti and Michele Guaitoli arriving a few seconds later to raised arms from the audience. What is noticeable is that there is no set list pinned to the stage floor or no pedal boards and their trailing wires and the whole set – while hardly freestyle – feels so natural.
From the outset, Temperance is there to not only play from their five album catalogue but to have fun – and it shows – there is grinning aplenty and as the members bounce around the stage, the band interaction is just flawless. Much in demand male vocalist Michele Guaitoli (also of Visions Of Atlantis and Kaledon) is one smooth operator as he glides between his band members and never misses a beat with that sumptuous voice of his which works perfectly with the range of co-vocalist Alessia Scolletti. The audience interaction is up close and personal and Guaitoli will not hesitate to peek around the speaker stack to get the non clapping member of the audience to move their hands. There are plenty of foot-on-the-monitor moments by both guitarist Pastorino (who also sings) and bassist Negro who effortlessly switch sides and in and around the vocalists. There are many moments where the whole stage is taken up by the four at the front for a mass jump which never fails to get the crowd going and it is rare that there is no interaction. Again, there is few bells and whistles, Guatoli is a gifted pianist and while there is no instrument on the stage for him to play, he spots the one at the back of the venue and runs off of the stage – quickly followed by Pastorino – to tinkle the (out of tune) ivories.
It is not that the set list is irrelevant but there is so much going on, it does not even matter, every song is constant movement and interplay on stage where each member is clearly having a blast. The one major highlight though is the title track from Temperance’s latest album Diamanti, the audience belting out the lyrics and clearly delighted in the inclusion in the set. Temperance crammed a lot into their hour long set and wasted not a single second.
Both Edge Of Paradise and Temperance has a lot to offer and while neither band could bring a full production, both proved that they can showcase their talent without it and delivered two very different and engaging sets. Post pandemic and gripped in war, the world is in a state of chaos and bleak financial time but for a few hours, The Station enjoyed some serious light relief and a night of music. With band members milling around to take photos and sign autographs well after the show ended, there were smiles aplenty and memories to take as audience members wandered out into the balmy August night.
All photos: Lee Vickers