EDEN’S CURSE with COP UK and EVOLVE at Manchester Academy – 22 November 2016
Review by Mark Dean || Photos by Mik Connor Photography
Manchester Academy is our regular gig haunt with a selection of live concert venues under one roof. A midweek gig, however, raises issues in terms of crowd figures. I have personally found that Manchester rock fans tend not to venture out much during the week. Also, the proliferation of gigs in the city often results in gigs clashing and thus presenting a dilemma and choice factor for gig goers also in a time of financial austerity. This was again the situation when Eden’s Curse played on their recent Cardinal Tour. Not only was there a gig clash directly the same night, but a huge package of rock bands was also playing in the larger Manchester Arena the following evening.
The upshot of all this was that when we arrived at the venue, crowd numbers for opening band Evolve were sadly thin on the ground. Having an interview booked with the headlining band meant that we missed the opening of Evolve’s set. Arriving back into the hall after their two opening numbers, we were immediately struck by the unique quality of the sonic soundscapes being created from the stage. While being categorised by the band themselves under the term “progressive,” I feel that that didn’t present an accurate portrayal of what they deliver. In other media sources, I have even seen them being described as metal/punk. Hard to define and highlighting a quite diverse mix of musical styles, I found their bombastic tunes largely impressive and highlighted perfectly the separate individual virtuosity of the musical components of the band. While the band sought to engage the audience directly, I feel disappointed that the sparse audience did not reciprocate by giving the band what they richly deserved for their very noble efforts.
Middle of the bill were a band that have a huge buzz currently circulating around them in UK media circles, COP UK. Fresh off a cruise with many rock giants and legends, and record label deal newly signed, I was curious if indeed they could live up to the hype. Was it merely a case of just having friends in high places or would they be able to deliver the goods? Even though audience numbers remained few, the band played and delivered a set that justified a much larger crowd. It would have been so easy faced with a largely apathetic response for a band to simply go through the motions. COP UK devoted 100% passion and enthusiasm, and still went about their cause of entertainment. Vocalist Dale Radcliffe is not the only shining diamond in the band, as all the elements shone with their musical prowess. Covering a melodic music classic in “Separate Ways” by Journey takes huge balls, the manner of its vocal delivery simply left me in awe. Cover version aside, the bands own material also has its own merits. Tracks like “Love is to Die For” highlight that the band are more than capable of delivering musical talent in spades on the strength of their original songs. I would like to see the band again, performing before a larger audience in the future, perhaps at a festival such as Rockingham. Very impressive indeed.
Eden’s Curse are a band that I have followed for many years and it’s hard to believe that they have been around for so long that they are now touring their fifth studio album Cardinal. Eden’s Curse have evolved and transformed both in terms of musical style and band line-up, while at the same time also maintaining a solid fan base. This was my debut viewing of the band and I was curious and in anticipation as to what type of set would be served up to the melodic rock fans of Manchester. I always sympathise with a band that tours regularly and puts their all into their live shows that must play before an audience that is lacking in numbers. Thus, it was as Eden’s Curse played a set that traversed their musical legacy with a selection right across their back catalogue. The latest album was obviously heavily emphasized both in the song selection and the album cover artwork backdrop. A highlight for me personally was “The Great Pretender,” for which the band had recently released a particularly striking and visual video. Unfortunately, the alluring maidens present therein were sadly omitted from the evening’s proceedings. Other tracks featured included “Black Widow” and “No Holy Man” from my favourite Eden’s Curse release, Trinity. New band members on drums and keyboards seemed to integrate seamlessly well into the line-up. Bringing a guest vocalist on stage for a couple of numbers – Vicky Johnston from the band Winter in Eden – added a different element both sonically and visually, and despite battling travel issues, I was glad that she had managed to make the show. Regarding the audience numbers, I cannot attribute that to a single factor but a combination of things. I really hope that Eden’s Curse won’t miss out Manchester on their next UK tour, as they have so much to offer and rock fans of the area deserve to give them a chance.