THE crowd was big and anticipation high in Amber Bar on Saturday night, for the final of this year’s Battle of the Bands.
Some great bands hadn’t made it through, but there was no doubting the quality of the four finalists; The Peace Chiefs, The Water is Rising, Fletcher Christian Mutiny and 9 Bar Gypsies.
They each had a 45-minute set to work up a frenzy and tick the boxes on the judges’ scoresheets.
After blazing sets from the soulful Chiefs, the mighty Mutiny and the raucous Gypsies, it was the brutal melodic metal of The Water Is Rising, with the final performance, that earned the highest tally from the judges to secure the hard-earned 2012 title.
Silver and bronze went to Fletcher Christian Mutiny and 9 Bar Gypsies respectively.
Shri Naik, event co-organiser and general manager of The Rutland and Chesterhouse Hotels, which includes Amber Bar, said: ‘It was brilliant on Saturday. As Amber is back as the premier live music venue in Douglas, we will try and do something every two weeks, including having The Water Is Rising and Fletcher Christian Mutiny back to play on January 25 next year.’
The Water is Rising frontman Skip Hilton reflected on a job well done, and a great competition. ‘It was really well done, well attended for the most part, and a laugh,’ said Skip. Credit to Shri at Amber, Douglas hasn’t had a regular venue for original bands for a while, and Shri wants to get things going, it’s great. We were happy to be a part of that.’
Most bands want to avoid going on first, when the crowd are a little more reserved, and sober, but the opposite was true for The Water Is Rising. ‘We didn’t want to go on last, we like a beer! ‘I thought we played well, that we’d done enough. The crowd were awesome, they made it for us, so there is an advantage in going on last,’ reflected Skip.
He added that the schedule running late might have even added to the intensity of the gig, as the guys were narked their set might have had to have been cut short (which it wasn’t).
The band is around two years old, but the current line up has only been together for four months, and the sound has been described as a mix between Machine Head and Opeth.
‘We’re also all massive Lamb of God fans, and Killswitch Engage,’ explained Skip. ‘I’d call us heavy, melodic, leftfield metal. We’re going to try and add odd, distinct aspects, and find our sound.’
The guys scooped £150 for their win in the heats, and £500 for winning in the final, as well as six hours recording time with Lee Morgan at his Factory Lane Recording Studio in Peel.
So what is next for the Manx metallers? ‘Well, there’s something I’ve spent my life wanting to do. I was in a really good band 15 years ago, and we had a bit of interest from Europe, but we never followed through on it,’ said Skip. ‘But we’ve decided we’re going to go away next year, do a few four-day trips. If we get the interest, we’ll think about doing it more seriously.
‘I think we have good enough songs, and we’re good enough live. We’ll just test the water!’
On the Battle of the Bands, Amber Bar’s Shri added: ‘Thanks to Sleepwell Hotels, Isle of Man Newspapers, Factory Lane Studio, ELSiom, all the judges and bands for participating and all the supporters without whom this wouldn’t be possible. And if any bands want to play gigs please email firstname.lastname@example.org’