Monday, 25 January 2016

COP UK - Sheffield Review

Sheffield's Crimes of Passion (or COP UK as they seem to be going by these days..), have been in my radar for quite some time now. I first saw the band in 2009 at the Cambridge Rock Festival, and was blown away by their confident performance and striking original songs. I bought their self-titled debut album at the festival, and have been a fan ever since. I have seen the band twice since: at the Cambridge Rock Festival again in 2011 (I think it was!), and supporting W.A.S.P. in Nottingham in 2012. Both performances were great, and featured material from second album To Die For which refined their sound and was a big step forward for the band in terms and songwriting. Third album, No Place for Heaven, was released last week (there will be a review of it here in time) and the band decided to celebrate this with a hometown show at the Local Authority in at Sheffield's Corporation. I had already planned to travel from Devon to London to see Threshold the next day, so going via Sheffield to also catch my first COP UK headline show seemed like a good thing to do. Since I last saw the band, founding members Dale Radcliffe (vocals) and Kev Tongue (drums); and long-time members Charles Staton (guitar/vocals) and Scott Jordan (bass guitar); have been joined by Andrew Mewse (guitar) and Henning Wanner (keyboards/vocals). Both of the band's new members add a lot to the sound and style of COP UK, with Wanner's excellent harmony vocals actually being the greatest change. It had been nearly four years since I last went to Sheffield, and the smaller Local Authority part of the Corporation was a new venue for me. By the time COP UK hit the stage, there were quite a few people inside the venue.

Before COP UK however, we were treated to forty or so minutes from hard rockers Fahran who did a pretty good job in warming the growing crowd up. Their guitar-driven sound was not unlike COP UK's really, but without the gritty, dynamic vocals. That is not to say that singer Matt was in any way bad, as I did like his higher-pitched style. As far as support bands go, Fahran were pretty good. They did not outstay their welcome, and they were tight with some pretty decent material to back it up. Their first couple of songs in particular were very strong, and I will probably check them out in greater detail when I have some time in the future.

Coming on stage to Star Wars' Imperial March, COP UK seemed poised to deliver an epic hometown show, and they did just that. It was no secret who the large crowd were here to see, although I must say I was disappointed with the crowd throughout. There was a lot of talking, people standing in odd places not really getting into the music, and pushing back and forth to the bar. The crowd was fairly quiet throughout too, which seemed strange considering many people in the crowd seemed to be friends of the band members. That aside, COP UK really delivered and owned the stage for the 75 minutes or so they played for. The majority of the newly-released No Place for Heaven was played throughout the evening, and despite not knowing most of these songs I found them easy to enjoy live. It seems the band have really pushed the melodic end of their songwriting here, and Radcliffe's vocals and Staton's lead guitar stood out constantly. Opener The Core had an infectious chorus that impressed right from the off, as did My Blood which was another early highlight. Older songs like Body and Soul and Love is to Die For fit in well, and the whole set felt very natural, with the new material being a progression from the older songs. The AOR-influenced Kiss of an Angel proved to be a big sing-a-long number, and the slightly thrashy Halo was a good headbanger. Another highlight was the keyboard-led Stranger than Fiction, which sounded a little like the lighter end of Edguy's music, and showed what Wanner brings to the table. New single Catch Me if You Can was the last of the new songs to be played, but it went down well. It has been available on YouTube for a little while, so plenty in the crowd seemed to already be quite familiar with it. COP UK ended to show with two old favourites from To Die For. The heavy Accidents Happen, Even Here was excellent as always, with Wanner's strong back vocals helping to bulk out the chorus, before the old single Blown Away had nearly everyone singing along, before the band took their bows. The setlist was:

The Core
Body and Soul
I Think I Could Save You
No Place for Heaven
Kiss of an Angel
Halo
Love is to Die For
My Blood
No Man's Land
Stranger than Fiction
One in a Million
Catch Me if You Can
Accidents Happen, Even Here
Blown Away

COP UK played a fantastic show to launch their third album, and was a good warm-up for their upcoming tour with Helloween. I, of course, purchased a copy of No Place for Heaven at the show (which I am listening to now as I write this) which was signed by the whole band. It is shows like this that prove that small club shows can be as good as huge arena spectacles. I hope it is not long before is see COP UK live again.

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