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Supporting Echobelly at the Plug on the 25.5.17 were the brilliant Bang Bang Romeo, home grown talent who have over the last nine years delivered visually and aurally stunning performances of all that is big, brash and beautiful in the world of soulful rock.
Atmospheric soundscapes are gradually built through layering of the twisted imaginings of Tarantino – big juicy guitar sounds from Ross Cameron with bass from Joel Phillips and playful, soulful drums from Richard Gartland. The dramatic siren that is Anastasia Walker, a sassy cocktail of Grace Slick and Stevie Nicks with the smokiness of Lauren Bacall. Fleetwood Mac, The Rolling Stones, Florence and the Machine, and The Who are listed as band influences yet we are scratching the surface here. One song can flicker through so many genres and styles it is often hard to hang your hat on any one style or influence. They are nibbled on, digested and then thrown out in a discernible mix of styles which have become the genre that is Bang Bang Romeo.

Natural Born Astronaut opens with Anastasia’s heart-melting vocals filling the room. We are crammed in to The Plug and her voice fills every corner. Her acapella holds the attention of every person in that room. The crowd on occasion don’t know whether to run to or from her during this track as her look flickers from rage to disdain to wanton desire then mischief within a matter of seconds. As does the track. A breathtaking start to the set.

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Runaway has a 1980’s ballad quality, the red light and smoke transporting us back through time in our make-believe DeLorean. A drum and vocal duet to begin, dramatic and daring before introducing the lead guitar’s undulating genius. Building layers of melody and rhythm swell in its crescendo before the final punch, ‘I’m gonna leave you here – it hurts’
You and I gives us chugging bass and guitar with a shuffle on the snare building up trepidation, like a soundtrack without a screen. We hold our breath and don’t know why. Faultless performances from lead guitar with complex melodies throughout. It’s these micro moments of lyrical genius such as ‘Try to make me someone else’ which set Bang Bang Romeo apart. Anastasia rocks with the drum, headbanging her howling call before a huge crash of sound.

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In Johannesburg, Anastasia’s poise and control is showcased here as she holds the audience captive with sound and sorcery casting spells upwards with every beat. The pace is slower now, her vocals give us a lower deeper drama bewitching the crowd. A whining guitar accompanies with soft harmonies. Sweeping guitar solos maintain the drama.

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Chemical gives us a psychedelic spin this time over an ethereal musical landscape. Anastasia’s low growls come up from her boots, leading in to another signature ballad, with huge vocals in rounded melodies and an anthemic chorus. This is being released as their latest single on June 9th.
Invitation takes down a very different path as we are chased in to punky pandemonium. Wild guitars in allegiance with the drums whip up a frenzy in my chest. The crowd on occasion don’t know whether to run for the hills or to Anastasia’s open arms during this track as her look flickers from rage to disdain to wanton desire and back again all within a matter of seconds.

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She is a sassy star ready for her close-up. The deep rocky beat that is born from the centre of this song out in to ‘Did you get my invitation? Did you make any reservation?’ builds the audience up in to a frenzy before a dramatic stop.

Adore Me, the title track from their 2013 E.P., starts against an acoustic undulation on lead and bass guitars. Anastasia strikes a pose between the boys, a vision in their shape and positioning, reminding us that this band are as much about the sight as the sound. Here we have a delicate heart wrenching drama played out on stage. Beautiful vocals are sung outwards and upwards, Anastasia’s wet eyes glimmering in the smoky light. This song drips with unrequited love with lines such as, ‘Do you adore me dear?’ Like the calm before the storm, we watch helplessly before we are pulled headlong in to crashing drums and guitar before our hearts quietly sob.
This review is but a tiny insight in to the powerhouse that provides you on entry with your very own Pulp Fiction pill and leaves you reeling. I suggest you hurry on down to the next Bang Bang Romeo gig in your area, prepare for great things and fill those thigh-high boots. 

You can catch BBR at Jack Rocks/This Feeling stage at Isle of Wight this weekend, the band also embark on the This Feeling ‘Alive’ October tour with Blackwaters, Bang Bang Romeo and The Shimmer Band.

BANG BANG ROMEO‘s new single ‘CHEMICAL’ is out today, 09/06/17

Available here: http://hyperurl.co/8jqsr0

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KATE O’BRIEN 

PHOTOGRAPHY: MAL WHICHELOW

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