Gig Reviews

Hark to Towler, Tottington, Bury
25 September 2005

Crimson Scarlet have Towler crowd in raptures...

Hot off the heels of their second Rochdale Band Nite performance Crimson Scarlet took the road over Jericho to Bury to take their unique brand of melodic rock to a new audience in Tottington.

The Hark to the Towler is a well-respected music venue and for good reason, live entertainment is the pub's mainstay and bands play every Thursday, Friday and Saturday night.

Landlord, Jon Hanson, founder many years ago of the infamous 'Headbangers Ball' has music running through his veins and since taking over the pub a couple of years ago installed a much improved sound system, built and decked out a new stage and put in a lighting system. All this in a traditional pub that he has also decked out in music memorabilia, of note in particular is the Keith Richard poster with the Mick Jagger finger puppet, designed by Jon himself, and the neon lit Sgt Pepper's Lonely Heart Club drum behind the bar.

Crimson Scarlet took to the stage for their first set and immediately the atmosphere was electric as they launched into a pulsing rendition of their stadium anthem, New Life Story. An already attentive Towler audience quickly got into the groove as they moved onto Last Night before lead vocalist, Sarah-Jane Johnson, took a rest whilst keyboard player Richard Harper showed he is multi-talented by belting out Lab Rat.

The set ended with Johnson returning to the stage and sharing the vocals with Harper on the Stones inspired Paranoia.

Half an hour gone and the first set over, the audience eager for more, and Crimson Scarlet realising they had won over a discerning crowd of music lovers who had never heard their music before.

The second set began with another fast moving rock song, Scarlet, leading into the title track of Crimson's new CD, Pirouette, both songs Harper leads the vocals and Johnson provides harmonies in the background.

It was clear to all just how much the musician's were enjoying the gig, relaxed and playing superbly they often launched into spontaneous crowd pleasing solos with guitarist John Butterworth throwing in some stunning licks and riffs.

The rhythm and mood ebbed and flowed as Crimson skilfully intertwined the up tempo numbers with ballads such as Miss Lane.

The crowd had enthusiastically shown their appreciation at the end of every number, but Johnson had them eating out of the palm of her hands with her quite extraordinary vocals. The sheer power and thrust, with soaring crescendos and yet every note bang on had the Towler crowd rapturous.

The set ended with a real foot tapper of a song, Oxygen, driven by Malcolm Journeaux's funky bass beat, the highlight was Pete Smith's incredible drumming performance.

The Crimson Scarlet sound has always been good, but they found something extra at the Towler and put in a quite superb performance that had their new fans queuing for CDs to be signed and Towler owner Jon Hanson positively glowing with the praise given him by his regulars for bringing this talented band to Bury.

Kirsty Rigg