Live Review: Kira Mac - The Waterloo Music Bar, Blackpool
18th May 2023
Support: The Jamie Porter Band, Mad Haven
Words: Dan Barnes
It’s feels like it’s been a long-time since I put pen to paper to cover a show at Blackpool’s premier live music venue and when that also includes one of the UK’s most exciting new talents, it’s a no-brainer. I mean, what else am I going to do on a Thursday?
Opening this three-band bill of reasonably-local Classic Rock bands is North Wales trio, The Jamie Porter Band, supplemented by Tom of Mad Haven as a second guitar. Their short set is filled with hard-rockin’ bluesy tunes, loose enough to feel like it’s a jam-session but disciplined enough to be full of big hooks and infectious riffs. Drummer Simon and bassist Dave lay down a solid platform for Jamie and Tom to weave their guitar magic; the band take a turn for the (relatively) musically aggressive when they incorporate some dirt into their sound, giving the tunes something of an Outlaw feel. Ready For Action is the perfect kind of barroom track, with the spectre of AC/DC fleetingly visible in the mid-section, and a clap along call-and-response section getting the crowd’s blood flowing early. New single, Feel So Good is more of that dirty Rock N’ Roll and closes the set with a distinctly good time vibe.
From the same neck of the woods as Jamie Porter et al, the brothers Rogowski and bassist Morgan take to the stage with Tom barely having time to remove his baseball hat for Mad Haven’s set. It’s a harder edged sound than the previous band but still distinctly Hard Rockin’. I get the spirit of the 1980s coming though at times, when only hairspray and spandex are missing; other times, as on The Truth, the music slithers like a snake though filthy riffs. Tom manages a shameless – yet fiendishly clever - sales pitch for the band’s live album, recorded at this very venue while supporting FM and available at the merch stand. New single, Liar, gets a healthy response during the audience participation section and Are You Ready? has noodling guitars and echo that gives it a huge sound.
One-time The Voice contestant, Kira Mac wastes no time in proving beyond a shadow of a doubt she has the beating heart of a true rocker. From the get-go, she demonstrates the power and range of her voice as Hit Me Again makes one realise that one day we’ll be able to say we saw Kira in the Waterloo, as she’s packing out arenas.
This Downfall Tour is all about road testing new material as well as giving us a near complete run-though of the future classic, Chaos Is Calling album. First newbie on the cards is Scorned, which has been getting some airplay on Planet Rock.
The band’s new material feels heavier and more punchy than the country-based tracks from the debut record: Farewell feels as though Ms Mac had found a voice, Play the Game and Climbing are trenchant barbs at the music industry, which she refers to as a Shark Tank in the former’s introduction. No Way Out is, admittedly, a pure-Girl Power anthem built around a huge stomp; and Never Going to Stay sounds as though there have been a few punk elements mixed into the intro and pre-verse sections.
Each of the new songs are slotted between track from the album and show the influence of having been out on the road playing shows. Not that the Chaos material in any way needs any refinement, but the extra impetus put through the likes of Dead Man Walking and the title track makes these great songs even better.
Ms Mac is a thoroughly genial host and banters with the crowd throughout. She regales stories from the road and the peeping-behind-the-curtain of the music industry. She banters with a Geordie fan and tells of how she’s accused of speaking too much in the south and not enough in the north. Being from the Potteries and having studied at Manchester University, I think it’s fair to claim her as one of us.
Kira is ably supported by quality musicians who bring the whole shebang to life: guitarists Alex and Joe, drummer Max and our Bret on bass giving a platform for that amazing voice.
Mississippi Swingin’ is the most Countrified song of the set and comes with a story of filming the video in Bournemouth on the hottest day of last year. All I’ll say is at least there weren’t any pyrotechnics involved!
I’m no promotor, as you know, but it can surely only be a matter of time before someone puts Ms Mac and a certain Mr Barras together on a touring package. In the meantime, I urge you to check out this tour as soon as possible and for those of you heading to Stonedead early be aware you may well be witnessing a smash and grab raid as Kira Mac look to steal the show from under Skin’s nose.