Stone Gods - Manchester Academy 3 - 18.1.08

A few years ago we witnessed a little known band who despite playing to little more than 50 or so people clearly had their eyes on the stadiums. That band were called the Darkness and sad as it was that they ended with Justin Hawkins ego going into overdrive and them becoming little more that a caricature of their formerselves, the simple fact is when they last touched these shores they were still packing out Arena's and had pretty much achieved everything they wanted to.

As we stand here watching Stone Gods there's a very definitive feeling that this band could do it all over again. Essentially Dan Hawkins and Ed Graham from the original line up with ex-Graham Coxon guitarist Toby Macfarlane taking over the bass duties. Fronting the band is Richie Edwards on guitar and vocals, a mammoth skinheaded beast of a man who is probably the furthest removed from the falsetto of past and is definitely more ACDC than Queen.

Kicking off with the single "Burn The Witch" which has been the only showcase of the bands work leading up to the tour and to be fair that was only a 1 minute clip on myspace. Huge meaty riffs and the sort of roar that sounds as if Edwards has been gargling with glass it starts off what is essentially the best pub rock band in a long time. "Don't Drink The Water" on the other hand is best described as a oi punk track and the most simplistic track played tonight. No stone is unturned though with "You Brought A Knife To A Gunfight" being the most overtly commercial and "Lazy Bones" harking back to the classic country rock ballads that Extreme used to do so well.

The fact that throughout tonight's set there wasn't one call for a Darkness song speaks volumes about Stone Gods. With little fanfare and spread by word of mouth alone, Stone Gods managed to work a 200 strong crowd with ease and its not hard to imagine that in 12 months time they'll be back filling larger theatre's out.

Words: Alex McCann
Photos: Kirsty Umback

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