Alma Inn, Bolton, UK
17th June 2016
Bolton is one of many satellite towns that are scattered across the edges of Greater Manchester, despite being away from the bright lights of the city centre there is a no less a thriving music scene with the added bonus of many venues offering free shows from up and coming bands, and tonight is one of those nights where you can see two promising acts from the other side of the UK. Scotland’s Donnie Willow
and Brighton’s Rory Indiana
are coming towards the end of a brief UK tour showcasing their heavyweight alt rock sounds on a co-headlining tour, with Donnie Willow
touring in support of the Exhibition
EP that was released earlier this month.
The Alma Inn
is a compact venue, to put it mildly, with the bands playing in a small space which is weirdly lower than the bar area offering some unique vantage points, weirdly for a warm summers evening the small outdoor stage isn’t utilised meaning we’re packed into the tiny room ensuring the bar staff are kept busy. Tirade
are opening the evening, they are the local addition to tonight’s line up and they bring a touch of northern spirit to the evening. There is a sparse turnout early in the evening despite the offer of free music, presumably due to the temptation of beer gardens and barbecues, and this leads to a delayed start to tonight’s show and it’s late in the evening when Tirade
finally take to the stage to play a brief muscular set of pop punk infused alt rock.
One thing that immediately strikes you is that this is a refreshingly loud venue compared to many I encounter where noise regulations mean you can hear everyone else’s conversation, that is not an issue tonight as any kind of vocal communication is impossible whilst the bands are playing. The upbeat feel of the songs is underpinned by pulverising bass lines and beats and the their songs veer between the heavier end of pop punk and head into hardcore intensity, all of which is underpinned by a solid spine of alt rock. Tonight’s set gives me the feeling that Tirade
are a band to watch, and with a new EP in the works they are a band who have youth and talent on their side, and I have the distinct feeling that we’ll be hearing a lot more from them in the coming years.
As the sun goes down on Bolton the venue starts to become a little busier indicating my suspicions about the beer garden and barbecues were well founded and this brings the first of the co-headliners, Rory Indiana
, who deliver a set of crunching straight up melodic alt rock. Rory Indiana
bring a different element to the line up as they offer a more anthemic feel than Tirade
‘s opening salvo and you feel that their brand of intense alt rock is one that deserves to be heard in grander venues, and to bigger crowds. New material is showcased, including the impressive Pink Cloud
, and my personal highlight, the wonderfully titled Brexism
, that indicates that the UK’s grass roots alt rock scene is thriving and their new single, Tough Love
, brings things to a heartfelt and intense finale.
As we approach the witching hour Donnie Willow
take to the stage, the Glaswegian trio bring a more stripped down intense and raw approach than their co-headliners and as good as their recently releases Exhibition
EP was they are a band that should be experienced live. Such is the depth of influences in their sound they are hard to pin down, punk attitudes, alt rock intensity, post hardcore breakdowns and even Beatlesque melodies are present in their set, although the latter of these elements is delivered in a way that is far removed from their origins, and are hammered home in a pulverising and intense set that, like every band on tonight’s bill, demonstrates the diversity of the bands in the UK’s music scene.
For me Tirade
edged it s my favourite act tonight, their mix of influences and youthful energy and enthusiasm provided something unique in tonight’s line up, but that’s no disrespect to the co-headliners who both provided full blooded sets of alt rock to a sparsely attended venue, and that to me is where the problem lies, if people don’t attend local shows, especially when free, then we are in danger of losing these kinds of venues. For me spaces like The Alma Inn
need to be supported as they provide a valuable opportunity for bands to showcase their material and gain exposure, venues such as these are in many ways the backbone of the grass roots alternative music scenes, it’s up to us to use them or we face losing them, and when they’re gone it’s doubtful anything will replace them.
‘s website is here
You can read The Punk Site
review of Donnie Willow
‘s website can be found here
page is here
and their Bandcamp
Live photography is by Dean Unsworth
, his Instagram account is located here
You can click on any of Dean’s photos to view a slide show of the images