If anybody bothers to check this blog regularly you will have noticed that the number of posts has dropped dramatically in recent months. At the same time I made a pledge that I would review every gig I went to in 2015 and I WILL do that, even though some of the reviews are now six months overdue.
One possible reason I haven’t blogged as frequently is that the four local bands I was so passionate about in 2013 have slipped a bit off the radar; Pips are on hiatus, Four 45s don’t play as frequently and aren’t quite the same band and Strangers In Paradise always seem to play on nights I’m doing something. And the fourth band; Recovery; the ones I had a 100% attendance rate at one time …
Recovery never split as such but the band ground to a halt and further set of personnel changes left Jonathan Skinner as the sole founder member and Gav Ramsay went from being the new boy to the second longest standing member. It was a good time for a change of name to The Omega Era and for a fresh batch of songs. As to whether Recovery and Omega Era are the same band it is debatable. For those of my generation (born early 80s) it’s not entirely dissimilar to the question of whether Megatron and Galvatron were the same person. Or, for Only Fools And Horses fans, a bit like the question of Trigger’s broom.
There are reasons why Recovery didn’t lead straight into the Omega Era. Jonny Skinner was of course busy with a solo single (I’ll come back to that) and residencies at The Den and 10 Devonshire Place. However during this time he and Gav recruited Ryan Jones on guitar and James Dye and set about forming a band.
Perhaps it was this relatively long rehearsal period that set Omega Era apart from Recovery. The earlier band were a group of mates who gigged without much though before realising they had something special. Omega Era, by contrast, have spent months honing their sound and getting the EP ready to go before hitting the gig scene in earnest. The craft showed.
The CD launch formed part of a showcase for various Harrogate bands at the 360 Club, one of many live music venues in or around Leeds City Centre (I think it’s about the fifth I’ve been to in 2015). If the truth be told it was far from my favourite, being strangely claustrophobic although the acoustics were good. Omega Era were the second act on the bill, behind PseudoNympho and just ahead of Hellfire Jack. The latter, while not entirely to my taste, are always a difficult act to follow but Omega Ema made it look easy. Put simply, they’ve not only had the practice but have perfected a strangely complex sound that takes repeated listen to fully unravel. Gone are the poppier moments of Recovery in favour of a sound that hops on the border between rock and metal with Skinner’s imperious voice frequently vanishing into the murk but always to emerge again.
I’ve since heard that Jonny has scaled back his other musical commitments to concentrate on the band. If there is any criticism of the EP (entitled Alpha and being given away at the ridiculously generous price of £0.00) it’s that it doesn’t reveal the dimension that the frontman, at least, is capable of – it’s a shame that the stronger Recovery songs like Modern Army and Sunrise might be gone for good and quieter numbers (not just Keep The Candle Burning but also the brilliant 2013 piece Drive) would complement Omega Era’s distinctive rock sound nicely.
However that’s just a nit pick. The bottom line is that, unless Strangers In Paradise put out a new EP before the end of the year, the Harrogate rock scene is unlikely to see a better release.