Saturday 17 February 2024

Smalltown Tigers / Chasing The Fall / The Homecoming - Stockport The Spinning Top - 16th February 2024

Italian trio Smalltown Tigers headed to The Spinning Top in Stockport as part of their UK tour to promote the release of their album Crush On You that came out last week. Blasting through sixteen songs from the album and its predecessor Five Things in less than forty five minutes they demonstrated that they're ready to step up to much bigger stages should the right doors open for them.

It's our first visit to The Spinning Top and we're very impressed by the set-up. A pub on the hill on Wellington Road, it's far removed from the Stockport as the new Berlin chat, but actually has the raw independent spirit that really underpins the beating heart of the German capital. The sound set up is very impressive, albeit having to wait for a play to finish downstairs to allow the music to start, and the staff friendly and welcoming. It's a brilliant venue for bands to cut their teeth, both local and those from out of town like all three tonight are, and vital to the health of the pipeline of artists aiming for the bigger stages of the city down the road.

The Homecoming open up the night and have a really impressive sound and songs with real energy and passion, built around a tight rhythm section and three vocalists combining lead by Michael. There’s an energy that comes from their roots as a Disney pop punk covers band - with their take on I Wanna Be Like You reinventing it as a trashy thrash that just works.  It translates through to their original material  too covering subjects like stem cell donation in DKMS and adding a little humour in a song from their new EP called BJ In My PJs which Michael insists is about Ben And Jerry’s whilst My D20 Just Rolls Eleven is the highlight, a song that’s propelled by its own considerable momentum from the off. 

Chasing The Fall follow and the Crewe band take no prisoners as evidenced by their second song about an ex-friend simply called Shithead.  They might wear their pop punk influences proudly on their sleeves but with frontman Andy a commanding and enthusiastically personable presence up front and the genuine emotions in their songs like Lonely Nightmare and recent single A Million Times More, they stamp their own personalities loud over their whole set and the Stockport crowd warm to them from the start.

Without any disrespect to those two bands, the level is stepped up the minute Smalltown Tigers take to the stage. The telepathic connection between Valli, Castel and Monty is evident from the first bars of Find My Self to the Ramones cover they merge into their final song Five Things. They're exceptionally tight as a trio, the vocal harmonies, a rarity in music of this ferocity, are exquisite and the raw power visceral and exciting. It's clear that their home is on the stage and it's where they can express themselves best. That energy transmits itself to the crowd, many of whom caught them when they supported The Damned at the Apollo last year, the rest curious onlookers or who'd stumbled across them online as we did when Five Things was released just as lockdown kicked in back in 2020. They've already endeared themselves by watching each of the bands before them and mingling with the crowd before their set, but their set seals the deal.

The sixteen song set takes in much of Crush On You, a record that retains everything that made Five Things such an impressive debut release, but demonstrates their progression to the point where they should be playing to thousands, particularly as the world is looking to equalise the disparities in gender mix on festival line-ups. The set never drops in its intensity, only stopping to call out the other bands that have played and to plug the record, even when they jump between albums liberally, to the point that it's hard to pick standout tracks. 

If you like rock music, it's impossible not to fall for their brand of it. They're breathless by the end of the set, yet with smiles beaming across their faces, as well as ours. They may hail from Rimini, but music is a universal language and Smalltown Tigers roar it fluently.

Smalltown Tigers are on Facebook and Twitter. Crush On You is available direct from Area Pirata Records.

Chasing The Fall are on Facebook.

The Homecoming are on Facebook.

We had to leave before the final act Pleo to meet friends coming up from London for the weekend. 

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