They may have kept us waiting for 19 years but it has been worth it as Ugly Kid Joe return with a fantastic new album Uglier Than We Used Ta Be. To coincide with the release the band has returned once more to the UK where they are loved by the fans. I managed to get to the show at the Hub in Plymouth and was blown away by just how good all three bands on the bill were.
First up was the new side project from Ugly Kid Joe frontman Whitfield Crane and former Godsmack guitarist Lee Richards. The pair rekindled their acquaintance from Another Animal and the music they have produced on the debut Richards/Crane album is somewhat different to their usual style but very impressive.
They were joined on the tour by guitar virtuoso, Tim McMillan and their set was just amazing. Delicate and subtle but full of power as they sat and entertained a near packed venue. This is a rare occurrence these days to see so many people appear for the opening act but I am sure this has been the same for most of the tour. Perhaps it was the chance to see Crane do two completely different sets or just that people had heard the amazing music these guys have been making. Whatever it was the punters were happy with their decision to arrive early. It’s a shame that they didn’t have time for a longer set but perhaps fans will get to see them again in the UK soon as the headline act.
Next to take the stage were Aussie rockers Hailmary whose impressive debut album and balls-out live shows had got them the gig with Ugly Kid Joe. I had been fortunate to spend some time with them during the day and let me tell you, they are a great bunch of guys who work tirelessly to do what they love.
Nothing was too much trouble and I would love to hang out with them again one day. Having seen them soundcheck I had an idea what to expect but as they took up their positions on stage it was evident that they didn’t have as much room as they had when soundchecking.
They made full use of what space they did have and the now packed venue were loving every beat. Their live sound was very impressive and standing right at the front I got the full force and the band let rip. These guys have been around for some time now and it’s clear to see that when watching their live show as they effortlessly played through their seven song set. A special mention must be given to their drummer Vas Shevtsov who played like a man possessed as his kit moved around the stage. He could be seen readjusting parts of his kit between songs and his sticks were well and truly beaten by the end of the set.
Now having been entertained for well over an hour and a half we had already got more than our money’s worth but the main attraction was yet to come. Having had the pleasure of seeing Ugly Kid Joe several times before I knew the fans around me were in for a real treat. Plymouth being an area that most band ignore I for one was happy that these guys had made the effort to return for another show. I was also eagerly awaiting the new material as well as the usual classic set. As the lights went down the band took to the stage and the fans who were now packed in went mental. From the off it was clear that these guys love their jobs and they were clearly enjoying the feedback from the crowd. The new songs fitted in as if they had been playing them for years and the whole venue were rocking out at full pelt to one of the best live performances Plymouth has seen in a long time. As the night went on the crowd could be heard singing back the words to most of the songs and some had even learnt the lyrics to the new tracks as well.
I was fortunate to be invited onto the stage by Whitfield and continued to take photos of the action whilst trying not to get in the way of the band. From my new position on stage I got to see what the band sees as they play live and I loved every minute of it. It was just amazing to see everyone’s eyes fixed on their idols as the rocked out to everything. At one point Crane got the fans to raise their hands and the only people without their hands in the air were those who were working.
The raised hands then followed Crane as he waved from side to side and this was a sight to behold although only those on stage got the full effect of this. As the band finished their set and left the stage there was a massive applause and I expected them to return for the final song on the set list but this didn’t happen and I presume this was to do with the venues music curfew.
As I made my way out there seemed to be a lot of people hanging around the merchandise area so I went to investigate. As I walked down the steps I was not only greeted by the guys from Hailmary but Cordell Crockett, Ugly Kid Joe’s bass supremo who was chatting with fans and signing things. I was glad to hear that he had managed to find his way to the sea front after asking for directions earlier in the day and it appears he had enjoyed his spot of sightseeing and taken lots of photos. As I left the club I, along with everyone else had just one thought on our minds. When would these guys be back to delight and amaze us again.
Ugly Kid Joe: http://www.uglykidjoe.net/