Album Launch Gig
The Black Heart, Camden, London
Luke 'Loki' Milne
Days after the release of their debut album, 'A Thousand Words', Northampton-based Metal act Wearing Scars descend upon London for their first ever (yes, ever) live performance. Held in the intimate venue of The Black Heart in Camden, the beer starts flowing a good few hours before the band take to the stage to deliver the content of their album launch party.
Somewhat bizarrely, Chris Clancy and co. decide against a supporting act to warm the crowd up, and as their set opens it's apparent that the venue's attendees haven't quite had their sufficient fill of the good stuff to loosen their necks, taking a few tracks before their cheers and general responsiveness are aroused.
I will admit that it seemed a little odd for Wearing Scars to opt out of bolstering their crowd figures with the assistance of a well-known local act, however I suppose the attention is intended to be solely on their new material. In truth, this decision (conscious or not) hasn't affected numbers too much, and although The Black Heart isn't quite filled top capacity, it's still pretty buzzing as the band deliver their first few tracks of the night.
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Clancy makes short work of seeking to engage the fans with an admirable stage presence. I use the word "admirable" as it's no secret to anyone who frequents The Black Heart that the stage area isn't the most forgiving in regards to space. Bunched together and restricted to a small surface area in which to strike a pose, it's clear from the offset that Wearing Scars are a band whose sound and feel warrants a more forgiving staging area, enabling a little more freedom of movement to play with.
In any case, as the performance rolls on in front of a thick crowd, Wearing Scars deliver a thick, broad sound that seems befitting of a festival or arena setting. Backed by the chunky, riff-heavy guitar performance of ex-Sacred Mother Tongue's Andy James, Clancy (formerly of Mutiny Within) pulls off an impressive vocal performance that is sadly a little buried a little too deeply into the mix.
The crowd doesn't seem to mind too much, but it's certainly a noticeable element that brings a little disappointment for me. Having had the chance to wrap my ears around their debut album ahead of the night's gig (which has been given a fantastically polished shine), I was looking forward to hearing some belting vocal passages from Clancy, and I feel a little cheated.
Sadly it's not just the vocals that have suffered at the hands of undercooked sound quality; with slightly muddy guitars and an overpowering backline emitting from the venue's sound system, I find myself presented with a muddled mixture of sound that doesn't seem to serve the band's music justice. It's a real shame, as 'A Thousand Words' is an excellent album with some great musical moments, but I just can't seem to get into the live performance laid out for me at The Black Heart.
This disjointed sound presentation seems only to fix itself during the performance of 'Butterfly' and 'Wearing Scars', where the guitars and drums back down enough to let Clancy's voice really shine through - and it really does. The crowd belts the lyrics back at Clancy, who adopts a cheeky grin as he leads the fans on through the choruses. It's a fantastic example of the band's grasp on their fans in such a short space of time, and bodes well for their future.
Overall, I feel a little cheated by Wearing Scars performance at The Black Heart. Their debut album is most certainly worth a listen, and I would be foolish to suggest otherwise. It's been reviewed here and highly recommended not only by MetalTalk but many music review outlets across the board.
One slightly disappointing fact about being a music journalist, however, is that I often find myself unable to truly kick back and appreciate a live gig; while the crowd have clearly enjoyed the musical content of the band's album launch, I find myself noticing and picking away at the little things that don't seem to bother anyone else - such as the rather cheeky addition of a backing track to bolster the band's sound with backing vocals. A minute point, I know, and I'm fully aware that the acoustics of the venue are a variable that lies out of the band's control, but these elements do present a barrier for me in regards to the band's performance nonetheless.
Wearing Scars are a band I've really enjoyed listening to, and I've definitely played through 'A Thousand Words' more than a handful of times since its release. Though I personally found their debut live performance a little underwhelming, the bittersweet taste left in my mouth will surely wash wish time, and I'm not going to pass up future opportunities to see them perform.