The Engine Rooms, Southampton


Arriving early at my new favourite South Coast venue it’s a sparse turnout for what should be a night of truly great entertainment. A 20 year Anniversary Tour for the headliners and a chance for 2 “up and comings” to show their wares. Opening tonight are South West Alt/Rockers Empire. This 5-piece don’t seem undaunted by a near empty room and immediately engage us. Before their 2nd song Joe (vox) invites everyone to “take a few steps forward”, and we duly oblige! Really one cannot fault Empire-good songs, strong lyrics and decent stage presence. They create (to me) a wall of sound, yet remain clear throughout. Where I struggle is with Joe’s almost “operatic falsettos”, which isn’t a criticism. I’m just more used to bands of this genre screaming an unintelligible howl over the top of the music. Perhaps this is where they are unique and different from the competition and what sets them apart. The huge snare and bludgeoning bass are to be expected; matched by Joe’s huge range, it’s just a shame so few people are watching them. I just canít decide if Joe’s vocal is Glam, Hardcore or Hair Metal! Despite the numbers, Joe is engaging the punters between song and they end on a high, garnering generous applause. I might be in the minority and Empire may go on to stadium size popularity, but I can’t admit to being a convert.

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Next up are Aaron Buchannan and The Cult Classics – great name, great band!! From the outset, Aaron’s enigmatic style and persona is on display for all to see and hear. His vocals are largely clear and audible throughout, in front of a band who are a tight unit. Chris’s bass is immense while Aaron’s vocals are occasionally gravelly, but like Joe (Empire) he also has huge range. As he tries to warm up this crowd I’m slightly reminded of Justin Hawkins (Darkness) in his stage presence and shapeshifting. In fact, I would go as far as to say they have a stadium-sized aura about them. Having made his name in previous outfit Heaven’s Basement he is quick to point out band progression, and at great lengths to introduce and laud his current bandmates. Whilst recounting his band past Aaron announces an old song, the quite excellent “I Am Electric” to a great response. Huge riffs and another wall of sound and he uses every inch of space afforded him to prance, preen and generally maneuver himself around. “The Cult Classics” are the sum of their parts and with Aaron at the helm I feel they can only get bigger. They depart on a high to yet more generous applause.

Aaron Buchanan
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At 9.30 on the dot InMe take to the stage. The numbers have swelled a little but there’s still not enough people here for a 20th Anniversary show (IMO). Anyway, the music. They open with “Myths and Photographs” and the crowd singalong from the outset. Tonight’s set as announced by Dave (vox) will consist of songs from their entire career. Despite the numbers he is in fine voice and smiling throughout. “7 Weeks” is an early highlight and Dave is at pains to engage his audience all night. In fact, there are no half measures from the band with Simon’s powerhouse drumming and huge snare. “Lava Twilight” is clearly emotional as Dave sings while contorting himself around his guitar. At one point he asks “how the devil are you Southampton”? With a muted response he simply replies “thank you both”!

During “Safe in a Room” he seems to wear every emotion on his sleeves, followed by “Her Mask” (PA). However ‘Firefly’ is their set highlight as the whole room sing along in unison. “Legacy” is dedicated to one “Laura Richardson”; who to quote Dave “took a chance on a small band from Essex”, and is delivered in the most heartfelt way. This might just be the most emotional performance I have seen from a front man this year. Dave is quick to point out the “we don’t do encores” situation and lightly announces “this will be the last song, before another 5”! Brother Greg (bass/vox) to his left is energetic throughout; covering every inch of the stage, while Gazz (guitar) to his right just smiles occasionally. Dave then takes us right back with the excellent “Underdose”, which gets a few moshers moving for the last time. He is happy to thank each and every one of us for coming out to see them still after 20 years, and they depart on “Faster the Chase”.

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After 90 minutes they say their last goodbye’s and we all leave happy. Such a shame that a band with their history; on such a prestigious tour, are playing to so few people. I don’t know why, we can’t blame the weather, ticket price, or the supports. It is interesting to see the fortunes of one Biffy Clyro who I saw support InMe some 20 years ago. One wonders why a band this good aren’t bigger. However, if there is one legacy to the InMe story its longevity. With an army of fans always ready to support them; and new material in the offing, it’s good to know that they are far from ready to throw in the towel just yet. The highest compliment I can pay InMe is they never do the same show twice-long may that continue.

Set List
Myths & Photographs
Ferocity in Desire
7 Weeks
Lava Twilight
Nova Armada
Hymn: Ivory Elder
Safe in a Room
Her Mask (P.A)
Reverie Shores
Creation: Amethyst
Reverie: Aquarium
Faster the Chase


Words by Ross A. Ferrone
Pictures by Dave Chinery

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