Gig Review by Simon Saynor with Photography by Mark Loraine

Fresh from supporting P!NK on the European leg of her Beautiful Trauma world tour (and with barely enough time to enjoy some home comforts) Bang Bang Romeo are on the road again. Tonight is the 4th night of a sold out 17 date tour. They’re out promoting debut album ‘A Heartbreaker’s Guide To The Galaxy’, released digitally on the 1st November and so it is that all but one of tonight’s 12 track set list is featured on the album.

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Normally when I’m reviewing I try and take a step back and soak up everything that is happening not only on the stage but also throughout the venue but with Bang Bang Romeo tonight that was impossible. From the moment the intro started and the band walked on stage and launched into ‘Shame On You’ I was totally immersed in the show. And it is a show. The band put absolutely everything they have into their live shows. Nothing is left on stage. Over an hour of raw emotion pulling at your heartstrings and powering into your heart and every fibre of your soul. There’s no us and them. We are all part of the BBRMY. Band and crowd as one entity -unstoppable, undeniable, unbeatable. I swear it’s how religions start. A BBR gig leaves you deliciously drained, spent but desperately wanting more. And yes whatever you’re thinking right now is the perfect analogy!

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Singer Stars is the natural focal point. I struggle to do her astounding vocal talent justice. It’s a weapon. It draws you in and nurtures you, it cherishes you, it spits you out and breaks you. Sometimes all in one immaculate breath. Her range and power are astonishing. Her control unmatched. She is quite simply the finest singer we have right now with the stage presence to match. It’s a rare talent.

While Stars’ voice wraps itself around you Ross’ guitar fires through you ‘like a hurricane gunning for war’. It fills the room. Swirling, diving, chords tightening round your already fragile heart. It’s like the funfair ride that terrifies you but you can’t wait to get back on again.

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Yes Ross and Stars take you through worlds of sleaze (‘Shame On You’, ‘Bag Of Bones’) and pain (‘You & I’, ‘You Scared The Love Out Of Me’) but then they rescue you with unbridled passion and unremitting love (‘Chemical, ‘Adore Me’) before lifting you higher than you’ve ever been (‘Love Yourself’, ‘Natural Born Astronaut’).

All this backed by the tightest rhythm section you can imagine, Richards Gartland (drums) and Cook (bass). They never miss a beat, never miss a trick. “Give me two times” yells Stars during ‘Invitation’. “Give me 47 times”. They nail it. I counted. Rich’s drums are the power behind the band. Mighty yet refined. The driving force but when required the one who reins it all in. Many a time I see him launch into a fill that there is just no getting out of and yet there he is, straight back on the beat.

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Cooky has been with the band for a good 18 months at least but has only recently become a fully-fledged member. They couldn’t have found a better fit both musically and personality wise. Bouncing on stage, conducting the crowd and always note perfect. And can I add he is without question one of the most respected musicians I have ever met. And the keeper of many a useless but entertaining fact.

The band as a whole are the perfect package. Stars’ voice would dwarf any other musicians and no other voice could do justice to the beautiful noise that the band produce. It really is the perfect match. And having played stadiums throughout the summer they have come home a fully honed professional unit.

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I caught up with the band for a quick pre-gig chat.

Gig Junkies: So 4 nights in, how’s the tour been going?

Ross: It’s been amazing. Great reaction first few gigs, especially up in Scotland. Glasgow was just out of this world. A lot of youngsters there which is always nice to see. Both Edinburgh and Glasgow, both had sold out. And someone turned up with a cake for Stars which added to the whole experience.

Stars: I think the last time I had 15 year old girls screaming after me…

Richard Gartland: Don’t say it!!

Stars: No, it was in PE probably because my shorts were too tight and they were laughing, so it’s quite refreshing that they’re screaming at me for a good reason now. I feel like The 1975. A bit.

GJ: So you are now officially a quartet. Cooky is now one of you. How is it Mr. Cook?

Richard Cook: Well not much has changed over the last 18 months for me except now I have more jobs. I had a really good gig going. I could just slope off after sound check. Now I have to do more work!

GJ: So obviously you supported Pink this summer, played with Sting and last year opened the main stage at the Isle Of Wight 50th anniversary. At what point did you feel it changing for the band, did you feel this coming on?

Stars: That is such a hard question.

Rich G: I don’t think we’ve ever sat back and thought about a point.

Stars: I think it genuinely hit me in Glasgow on this tour. How the repercussions of this summer are coming on.

GJ: So there’s no point in your history when you look back and think that was the moment?

Ross: I think one moment we tend to look back on was when we played at The Social in London. It was like an industry day plugging the album and Stars ended up in the middle of everyone doing ‘Chemical’ and ‘Invitation’ and Pink’s agent was there and it just kinda went from there.

Stars: It’s weird. There’s so many amazing moments in the bands history that every now and then you look back and go wow, that was a special moment, but in terms of watching the fruits of your labour come to life it has been during this tour because we’re starting to see the effect of playing on the Pink tour and the ‘Love Yourself’ single coming out, 35,000 streams in 4 days and we still haven’t really pressed the button on promotion for that yet either. It’s quite incredible. And then to arrive at venues and have a loada fans waiting outside is just incredible.

Richard G: You only really see progression when you stand on your own two feet don’t you and it’s the first time we’ve done that since the Pink tour.

GJ: I mean I would say having seen you before the Pink tour and then seeing you after, the change in the band is unbelievable. I mean you were magnificent before but now it’s just so professional, so solid on stage.

Stars: It’s clockwork. If you practice something so much it becomes ingrained. And supporting people like Pink and Sting you can’t help but be inspired.

GJ: So the album, ‘A Heartbreakers Guide To The Galaxy. November 1st I do believe?

Richard G: And we’ve seen it scheduled so we know it’s definitely happening this time!

GJ: How did you choose the songs for the album because already your back catalogue is huge, just how did you pick the songs?

Stars: It was hard.

Ross: It had a few different changes. Order changes, song changes.

Stars: This is like the 6th version!

Ross: But the thing with the songs that didn’t make it, I mean we still love them.

GJ: Well that’s it, you’ve got a 2nd album sat there already.

Stars: We’ve got 2nd, 3rd, 4th ready to go!

GJ: I’ve been lucky enough to hear it and the track listing just seems so well thought out. It’s almost like a concept album.

Ross: We’ve definitely gone for that whole kinda vibe, with the artwork too, and the story of the ‘Natural Born Astronaut’. We wanted to carry a message throughout and take you on a little trip.

Stars: I can’t wait for you to see the artwork. We’ve turned these songs into places. We really want you to sit back, relax and listen to the music while looking at the artwork and be transported to this place that we’ve created and I can guarantee that a lot of these planets are very sleazy.

GJ: Thank you so much guys. Have a great gig and see you soon.

Set List
Shame On You
Bag Of Bones
What’s Up? (4 Non Blondes cover)
Runaway
Chemical
Cemetery
Love Yourself
Natural Born Astronaut
You Scared the Love Out of Me
You & I
Adore Me
Encore
Invitation

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