Scarlet Rebels album launch show, Hangar 18 Music Venue, Swansea

Live gig review
Scarlet Rebels album launch show
Hangar 18 Music Venue, Swansea
28th January 2022

Review by Victoria Llewelyn for MTMNAE.
All Photography by Kelly Anne Spiller

Scarlet Rebels, arguably the hottest band to come out of South Wales recently, celebrated the release date of their new album ‘See Through Blue’ with a very special intimate show at Hangar 18, playing songs from the new album alongside old favourites for a selected group of invite-only fans and supporters.

A change from the original plan of a capacious party, in order to support the recent COVID restrictions in Wales plans for a launch show packed to the rafters with local and national support bands were put on hold until circumstances change.   However, a release date for an album such as this one cannot go by under the radar, and the Rebels have always been a band that recognise and appreciate the true value of local support and believe in giving back to their fans whenever an opportunity arises.   So, determined not to let their supporters down and in adherence to the guidelines they had to work with, a different kind of show was scheduled, and I was one of the people fortunate enough to be invited to come and watch, interview the band and review it.

Performance is scheduled for 9pm and following an acoustic set that afternoon at the local record store, lots of meet and greet, a presentation to Mark from MTMNAE for all his hard work in supporting the band, and a pre-show interview it’s been a busy day for the boys.   Though you’d never know it.   Backstage everyone is as cool as can be, drinking water, chatting away, bassist Pricey flashing that cheeky grin of his around everywhere you see him.   We get to interview lead singer Wayne and lead guitarist Chris with minutes to spare, and the show is ON.

Given there’s only 30 of us and for the most part we are sitting down even though restrictions were lifted that very day around seating at indoor venues, it does nothing to take away the sense of eagerness and anticipation in the audience – this is an avid and desirous crowd.   They’ve waited a long time for this, and they know what’s coming.

The Rebels kick off with an explosion of high energy – ‘I’m Alive’ hits the ground running, there’s a lot of appreciative bobbing about in the still seated crowd and those of us standing at the bar know it’s going to be impossible to keep still for long.   Chris Jones lights up the stage swinging his guitar around and jumping for the ceiling it seems – a true rock star in every sense of the word, he feels the vibe and his excitement is infectious.   Gary Doyle’s drums and Pricey’s bass bring the rhythm section to another level as they segue into riff – tastic ‘Not The One’ and eagerly awaited ‘Storm’ which brings the audience to its feet despite all the promises of modified behaviour.    The band have blended their set expertly with the much loved bangers that rev up the crowd and the more thoughtful tones of tracks like ‘I can sleep now’ and ‘These Days’ dropped in just when they need to be for the perfect balance. 

Well known for shining a light on the universal discontent with current social affairs, the show is not overly political tonight, whilst everyone here understands the message as strong as ever this gig is about celebration and the beginning of better times to come.   Wayne lifts up his voice and resounds, to vocalise the collective discontent that is the essence of the ‘See Through Blue’ album, yet at the same time there is so much joy onstage.   To finally be able to play these songs live to an audience is hitting the spot with every band member.   Wayne takes time out to give sincere thanks to the band’s manager (in the audience) the media outlets that have supported them, and each and every fan in the room.   It’s heartfelt, and the boys nod in agreement, this is a two way thing and it means a lot to us all.

Later in the set, ‘Leave A Light On’ is a pure conduit for emotion, if we had lighters every one of them would be in the air and I believe a few tears were being held back.   Then ‘You Take My Breath Away’ from their previous album lifts off and brings us all right back into the rock n’ roll moment.   The band are relaxed, playing effortlessly, owning every inch of the stage and connecting with every person in the room – we’re on this ride together.

Arguably saving the best for last, Josh Townshend has brought all his toys to share – he puts down the guitar he’s been shredding on and releases his keyboard skills for the wistfully melodic beginning of ‘Heal’.  It’s a thing of beauty.

Finishing with the classic ‘Take You Home’ the relationship between the band and the crowd is electric.  Everyone’s dancing by now, it feels emotional, connected and authentic.   The perfect way to bring the evening to a close.   The Rebels played with integrity, rebelliousness and love; an impassioned performance that leaves us all in anticipation of the forthcoming tour since if they can produce a result like this in a 30 person restricted seated show what can we expect when they are properly unleashed upon a hungry crowd?   2022 is most assuredly the Year of the Rebels, and I can’t wait to find out.

Scarlet Rebels links:
Band/Artist location – Llanelli Wales
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Check our page for Scarlet Rebels
Check out our review of Scarlet Rebels See Through Blue album