Live Review: Senser – O2 Academy 2, Newcastle, June 21st 2010

…I’ll be blunt here, I’m working the bar tonight because I know this gig is going to be ridiculously empty, as is the norm with Newcastle’s *ahem* thriving music scene. I wouldn’t have came of my own accord, but I’m curious to see what both bands are like, and what else am I going to do when I’m not pulling pints? Rave, review, rock!

Hot grunge rockers Starseed get their time bumped up to forty-five minutes with the non-appearance of any local support, and the band make great use of their time on-stage. Not much in the way of banter, they let themselves play out to a still gathering room with a shit-ton of energy. Their brand of radio-friendly hard rock sound is pretty similar to that from across the pond, looking at Shinedown and Seether. Frontman Russell Spence switches between being a third guitarist and standalone vocals, and it gives the quintets songs an extra riff maybe not needed, but definitely a boost – more to the point, he’s got a cracking voice and it really shows on the massive choruses the band pull out. Single Shine has started to get TV play, and while it’s nothing ground breaking, it’s big and accessible, and catchy as it gets. Starseed aren’t doing anything new tonight, but those in attendance are definitely impressed, and it’s a mighty shame such a talented band are playing to so few people. A massive prospect on the UK’s hands.

Senser are a band that have been around a good while – passing through the 90’s and 00’s while other bands have made it huge, so to see tonight’s turnout barely surpass 60 or so people is a bit underwhelming. Musically, the band – guitarist, bassist, girl and boy “singers” and a DJ and drummer, are a pretty tight outfit. Meshing male/female raps a la Sonic Boom Six, but sounding more like Rage Against The Machine with some ambient electro thrown in, it’s a strange combination that really doesn’t sound too bad.

It’s once the band really start to get going that you realise a little something – each song sounds exactly the same. One to the other, for circa an hour and twenty minutes, gets a little tiresome to say the least, and with an encore to boot, it’s definitely lost a bit of charm by the finale – the crowd barely shaking a muscle throughout. It’s through no fault of the band’s, but it’s pretty clear to see why they’re stuck playing these venues whilst bands from their time have progressed to bigger and better things – judging by tonight’s support, Starseed will undoubtedly do the same in years to come.

George Cannings.

Senser’s new album, How To Do Battle, is out now.

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