Anyway first up were British newcomers Shaft of Steel. The name of the band has you thinking heavy true metal but instead they play a breezy twin guitar led melodic rock/aor with slick guitars and high pitched vocals. They only played five tracks four of which are also on their Ep. They sound good live but the singer's voice is a touch on the whiny side for my taste. I prefer a slightly less nasal delivery myself. Musically they are spot on with nice flurries of melodic twin guitar and crisp solos all over the shop. Song wise they are fine too but they need to get the songs a touch shorter in my opinion with more memorable choruses. A good but not great start and they were pretty well received by the crowd.
Next up were Newman who are of course ably led by Steve Newman who is a stalwart of the UK melodic rock scene for many years now. I've always been a bit so so on Newman but I was completely won over by the two albums The Art of Balance and lately the awesome CD, Siren. I was perhaps looking forward to their set a little more than Vega's even and boy were they on top form. The guitarist had a punchy guitar sound and really let rip a few tasty solos. Front man Steve has a great tone to his voice and sang perfectly all night. The band is heavied up by the powerhouse drumming of Pete Newdeck and his added backing vocals help harmonise the songs really well. I enjoyed their set very much although I don't think they played any songs from Siren which is a shame although they might have done so don't quote me on that. They did finish quite late though at around 9.15pm.
Speaking of set times, something went drastically wrong somewhere as Vega's set started at around 9.20 and ended at 9.50 as there was a very strict curfew. I am not quite sure what happened but obviously the headliner slot should play for more than 30 minutes and it was disappointing but I enjoyed their short and sweet set. They rushed through as many songs as physically possible and Nick said they'd play the songs at double speed just to get through them! I actually think Nick Workman's vocals work better live than they do on record if I'm honest and he did a sterling job and the band sound tight as hell too. I like the right hand side guitarist's lead style a lot, very cool indeed. I would have loved to have heard some more songs from Stereo Messiah but it wasn't to be. The venue's strict 10pm curfew put paid to that.
What we did get was performed well and with gusto but I could tell the band wasn't so happy to have such a short stage time. This was my first time seeing Newman and second time with Vega and I hope to see both again soon. Newman won this battle but Vega's day will come!