In a converted railway tunnel under Bristol’s Victorian Temple Meads station, Australian rock band Tracer played an electrifying set of powerful music, fast as a bullet from the smoking gun of El Pistolero – their aptly named new album.
Wall of sound
A hard-hitting new-wave grunge sound with high-energy 70s rock inflections. this is intense and exhilarating music, with intelligent lyrics and exciting riff changes, all set at a breathless pace. With traces of Foo Fighters, Queens of the Stone Age and Nirvana all apparent, it’s amazing to think just three people can create such a wall of sound.
Fresh from scooping the Best New Band award from Classic Rock magazine at the end of last year, Tracer are touring the UK for the second time in recent months and to packed audiences promoting the new concept album. I finally got to see why.
· the charismatic Michael Brown with his powerfully throaty vocals and fast-fingered lead guitar
· the darkly intense Andre Wise with his hot and heavy drumming reminiscent of Led Zeppelin’s legendary John Bonham
· and the highly animated and equally talented new addition to the band, bassist Jett.
The live show
Without so much as a word they crashed straight into the high tempo Too Much (or ‘Three More’ as it appeared cryptically on their hand-written set list!) with its flirtatious lyrical seduction just as it starts off their roaring debut album of 2011, Spaces in Between.
“…You keep me on edge while you take your time…”
“…You can't decide if you need to come or go… and it's cool that you wanted to come…”
And the audience were certainly all glad they made the effort to come that night…The sensational set was like a sexual tease with a well thought out flow of clever build-ups to climactic peaks interspersed with just enough Spaces in Between to get your breath back and take stock of what just happened.
Dirty Little Secret from the new album blended right in and was followed by one of Tracer’s finest songs Voice in the Rain which the audience were encouraged to sing. It was testament to the success of their debut album just how many of the audience knew every word:
“I don’t want to run, I don’t want to hide, what will be, will be and I’ll just sit and watch the world go by… Am I alive? ‘Cause I don’t feel like I’m living today…And it all comes crashing down…”
The beautiful vocal intonation of the line: “I don’t want to rock and I don’t want to roll,” showed the control Michael has and the versatility in his powerful voice is apparent in this thought-provoking song, that goes on:
“I just want to sing my song and let the music save my soul…”
I don’t think he needs to worry somehow.
A mass sigh finished the songalong and then came a somewhat eerie instrumental followed, as on the album of the same name, by the brilliant track Spaces In Between:
“Fire fills the sky with violence and love, they’re oblivious to what’s above,
The same day in, day out, it brings me down,
But the voices in my head tell me, what’s lost can be found”
Then darkness came. There was a pause to catch our breath, a slowing of the pace, a definite change of mood. And then…
El Pistolero - ‘The Gunman’ crashed, in fury, into our ears like a torrent of unstoppable molten lava. Overly dramatic? Well, yes, it was. It was one hell of a night.
There were sound problems, starting with the mics being too low at the start, the bass was also way too high and overall the sound seemed to be an ongoing issue. The band were never put off and still played a great set which veered brilliantly from angry primal scream to thoughtful singalong to concept album storytelling.
The audience was interestingly eclectic with noticeably more men than women, several older gents and a smattering of teen Beiber-haired boys who looked like they’d come to their first gig. And what a first gig! I thought I spied Jeremy Clarkson too and there were a small handful of very attractive girls to even things up. The man doing his unique freestyle dance was clearly loving the band as indeed the whole throng seemed to.
Tracer have proved they are consistently good with an album as finely created as their first. This is a must-see band with two must-have albums.
Tell them I sent you.
Live show rating: 4.5/5 (only the sound let them down)
What the band are really like: Great people with a good sense of humour and for wild men of rock they really were quite polite!
The Support: Cage the Gods were well worth seeing - these are the Rival Sons of the future. I was so impressed I bought their album that night.
You can find out more about Tracer at Tracer-band.com and find them on Facebook and Twitter too. Seek them out.
Set List Complete with Cryptic Titles
‘Three More’ Too Much
‘Crazy Five Ya’ Manic For Ya
‘Stroll Together’ - Walk Alone
‘Filthy Big Truth’ - Dirty little secret
‘Remember My Title’ - Don't Forget My Name
‘Shout in the Sun’ - Voice in the Rain
‘’Matter Either Side’ - Spaces
‘The Gunman’ – El Pistoleros
‘Construction Square’ - Wrecking Ball
‘Man Birther’ - Lady Killer
‘There’s a Woman’ - There's a Man
‘Alive Pavement’ - Dead garden
‘Saint Cecilia’ - Santa Cecilia
‘Demon Drive’ - Devil Ride
Please read more of Kate's writing at http://katethompson.webs.com/music