Gig Review: Skarlett Riot, Fahran & Sertraline @ O2 Academy 2 Islington

Anyone looking for a quiet Monday night in London was in the wrong place if they headed for the O2 Academy 2 in Islington as Skarlett Riot, Fahran and Sertraline put on a fine show of energetic rock and metal.

Scunthorpe’s finest Skarlett Riot have always been on the fringes of our radar, given they’re potentially too established for our new rock and metal focus. So I’ve never had much of a chance to give them a listen nor see them live, except for a failed attempt to catch the end of a packed-out set at last year’s Camden Rocks. But on the evidence of last night’s show, all that has to change because they were phenomenally good.

The evening kicked off with Leeds/Manchester-based Sertraline, who we introduced you to last week and got things off to a fine start.

Frontwoman Lizzie Parry marked her stage entranc with a big scream as the big bouncy riffs of Guilty got proceedings underway. Frantic drums and, in particular, huge bass drum kicked in then big riffs under Lizzie’s drawn-out vocals, before going out with big smash of cymbals and riffs.

That was followed up with Nyeevise, my personal favourite of their tracks, which began with a driving riff feeding into a laid-back verse that burst into a big singalong chorus. Another chilled verse followed then booming riffs and a drumroll fed back into a chorus, then big driving guitars led into a final rendition of the super-catchy chorus.

Snakes began with a big scream from Lizzie, then a lively verse with screams thrown in. Huge doomy cymbals fed into a second verse then a slow building section that fed into big high vocals with a cheeky little wah-wah guitar underneath.

Next was I Admit The Blame, the closing track to their most recent EP Guilty, which opened up with Lizzie’s high vocals over a light guitar lick and big chords. That fed into a naughty bouncy riff that you just wanted to keep going, which returned throughout the track.

That was followed up with latest single Relapse, which began with big screams over a building riff and gave way to a smash of guitars and drums that fed into an edgy opening verse. Lizzie’s vocals absolutely dominated along with booming riffs, but from where I was the backing track didn’t quite sound right (could have just been me!).

They closed out with the excellent Mean To Me, from their debut EP Bury The Ghosts, which opened up with a high-pitched guitar lick then a big smash of guitars that dropped into a building opening verse. A big singalong chorus was supported by a booming low-tuned riff as they got the crowd involved singing “woh-oh’ vocals, which gave way to a big solo and a final blast of the chorus. It brought an impressive set to a big heavy ending.

They were followed on stage by Nottingham rockers Fahran. I’ll freely admit I’d only had a chance to listen to three of their songs before this gig, but I was mightily impressed by their performance.

They began in strong fashion with a huge solo from the lead guitarist, then a verse gave way to another cool solo supported by booming cymbals, which then launched into another solo with big instrumental support. And that fed into a bigger face-melter of a solo, before handing over to the other guitarist to finish off with a solo of his own. What an opening track!

That was followed by Stand Alone, which began with a piercing lick over pounding chords. A burst of low–tuned guitar gave way to an awesome burst of vocals from frontman Matt Black then a big singalong chorus. And a special mention has to go to the eccentric antics of bassist Joshua Ballatyne.

The band revealed they have a new album out soon, which has been four years in the making, and duly cracked on with new tracks from it. And from what we heard, the new album promises to be pretty awesome.

The first new track was latest single Pyre, which was released earlier this month. Matt’s vocals dominated with really cool high vocals through the chorus and, in particular, the huge singalong vocals that closed the track with big guitar support.

Next was a track called, I think, The Bitter Taste Of You, which began with big guitar riffs then vocals over lingering high guitars and a booming bassline. A big singalong chorus followed, and a second chorus dropped into echoey vocals then a big scream ushered in a big mash-up of low-tuned chords and a wah-infused guitar over booming cymbals.

That was followed by what may have been called Prime (or something similar), which began with big guitars then low-tuned guitars under Matt’s shouty vocals. A huge chorus took over, then a cool little tapped bass solo began a building section that exploded with a huge scream giving way to a diving guitar riff then big high-pitched clean guitars before a final smash of the chorus.

They closed out with 2017 single State of Mind, which Matt told us is “about taking care of each other.” It opened up with a cool looping solo over guitar chords then a really catchy verse dropped out for the crowd to shout “We’ll fix your state of mind” then burst into a big chorus. Another looping solo came in over doomy cymbals, then led into low-tuned guitars and a big solo from the lead guitarist. It was a hell of an impressive ending to a hell of an impressive set.

What had already been a great gig went to whole levels as North Lincolnshire quartet Skarlett Riot took to the stage to headline.

They took it in turns to enter the stage, starting with drummer Luke and ending with frontwoman Skarlett, all getting a big cheer on-stage. And they kicked off with big pounding drums in what I think was Break, which saw big doomy cymbals give way to a laid-back solo that built into a big shreddy solo and one final chorus led by Skarlett’s impressive vocals. It was a mightily good opening.

Scream At Me saw big driving guitar chords under Skarlett’s big vocals. Then they started really stepping things up with Closer, with its big opening riff and pounding drums. That fed into an energetic verse that was driven forwards by huge drums then big high-pitched vocals through the chorus.

Calling was equally good, with big vocal melodies through the verse echoed by the guitar before a huge singalong chorus. The big lights burst on for a huge solo from lead guitarist Danny as Skarlett stepped off stage then returned for a final blast of the chorus.

She returned with a microphone stand and they burst into Affliction, their most recent single released in 2017, with its rocky opening dropping into light guitars and vocals that were joined by a booming bassline then impressive high-pitched vocals. That dropped into huge bass and guitars as huge vocals built towards several repeats of the chorus.

The drummer and bassist made themselves scarce as Skarlett told us “We’ve put this in because people keep asking for it,” asked people to shine their phone lights as her and Danny ran a light rendition of Broken Wings.

A backing track got the crowd clapping along then building guitars and bass led into a mini solo and edgy impressive vocals over a booming riff.

Next was Outcast, which began with a booming riff that was soon joined by big vocals leading up to big cries of “Where do we go from here?” They got the crowd shouting “Hey hey hey” then big guitars fed into a final chorus.

Their big single Feel, which has had more than 3 million views on YouTube!, followed, opening up with stabbing guitars through the verse then a sensationally good high-pitched singalong chorus. This song showed off just how ridiculously good Skarlett’s vocals are, cutting over the top of big darting guitar riffs and pounding drums. They got both sides of the room involved in a shout-off – which my side definitely won, by the way – to build the intensity for their last two tracks.

The first of those was Stand Alone, which gradually built up to a huge chorus of the singalong vocals “I hope you choke, I hope you scream, I’ll make you bay, Why can’t you say.” The second chorus dropped into high guitars then Skarlett’s vocals building with drums into a big smash-up powering her impressive vocals.

Asked if we wanted one more song, the resounding response was “Yes” and Skarlett Riot delivered a knockout blow with the mighty Warrior, the closing track of 2017 album Regenerate. Big drums opened up and doomy cymbals supported cries of “Oi oi oi,” then they got the crowd clapping along through a verse led by Skarlett’s edgy vocals before bursting into a huge chorus. A big solo kicked in with Luke standing up behind the drums and Skarlett leaning into the crowd and they went out with a big blast of the chorus, which is so good it’s still stuck in my head the next morning.

It was a hugely impressive ending to not only a superb Skarlett Riot set but a highly enjoyable gig as a whole. And it’s easy to see why this is a band that’s quickly gathering a cult following.

You can follow Skarlett Riot on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, and check out their music on Spotify, iTunes and YouTube. Follow Fahran on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and listen to them on Spotify, iTunes and YouTube. And you can follow Sertraline on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, and check out their music on SpotifyiTunes and YouTube.

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