The Lines led a role call of local talent onstage at Wolverhampton’s Wulfrun Hall on Saturday (December 3), with their new songs demonstrating a fascinating new direction for the Sedgley-based four-piece.
After Dudley’s Dakota Beats and Wednesfield outfit The Limelight warmed the near-capacity crowd up and helped them forget the chilly temperatures outside, lead singer Alex Ohm, guitarist Dean Bate, drummer Dave ‘Paddy’ O’Connor and bassist Danny Pease took to the stage for what would turn out to be a triumphant homecoming gig.
Older songs such as Tracey, Circles and Domino Effect were received like well-loved classics, with the crowd singing along to every word. But, it’s the new material showcased by Alex and Co that hints at an exciting new sound that should set them apart from their peers.
Take new song Fever, for example – a pulsing, brooding, atmospheric beast that combines elements of Doves or The Verve at their most spaced-out, with the warmth of a string section and a relentless beat.
Having spent this year touring with Ocean Colour Scene and Pete Doherty, it’s clear The Lines are now keener than ever to explore sonic possibilities and gradually leave behind the anthemic, punch-the-air rock of their early material.
Dance music has always played a part in tracks such as El Matador, but it was on final song, Caught in the Crossfire, that Alex and the boys really let go with some four-to-the-floor action, helped along by a group of percussionists. As with Fever, this new tune – which sounds a little like Friendly Fires might sound if they were ever to drink Ruby Mild – points towards an exciting future.
Next year promises to be an exciting one for The Lines as they build upon the success of their exhausting tour schedule and branch out in new musical directions. The fact that one of their tunes now features on the soundtrack to a popular computer game should introduce their music to lots of new fans worldwide and result in the widespread acclaim the band deserves. Here’s to 2012 – let’s make it the year of The Lines.
They’ve repeatedly sold out Wolverhampton’s Wulfrun Hall and picked up rave reviews for their live performances across the world.
But recently, Sedgley-based four-piece, The Lines, demonstrated just how much they support local talent by inviting two of the region’s most promising up-and-coming bands to support them on their forthcoming hometown gig.
The group will be joined by Dudley’s Dakota Beats and Wednesfield boys The Limelight when they appear at the Wulfrun on Saturday, December 3 – a gig lead singer Alex Ohm is really looking forward to.
He says: “We are extremely pleased to announce that these superb local bands will be supporting us. Both groups are starting to build a big following in and around the Midlands and will fit the bill perfectly on the night.
“If any of you managed to catch our gig at the Wulfrun Hall last year, you may have seen The Limelight support us and put on a top notch show!”
Tickets for the gig are already selling quickly, with half of the allocated tickets for the Wulfrun Hall already dispatched, so fans are advised to purchase theirs early to avoid disappointment.
Alex, lead guitarist Dean Bate, bassist Danny Pease and drummer Dave ‘Paddy’ O’Connor also have further cause for celebration, having been chosen to support Ocean Colour Scene again this Christmas after a storming set of gigs earlier this year.
Alex says:”We had an amazing time when we supported the band back in February and are honoured to have been asked back for this tour.”
As long-time admirers of former Libertines frontman Peter Doherty, it seemed only fitting that Sedgley-based indie rockers, The Lines, should support him on tour.
And, last night’s set at Wolverhampton Wulfrun Hall proved the band have the musical ability, charisma and material to share the stage with any other headline act.
As dapper frontman Alex Ohm and co launched into an acoustic set showcasing new and older material, it was immediately evident just how far this band have progressed.
Songs such as Circles and Domino Effect took on an entirely different, almost blues rock feel, with the pared down instrumentation allowing Alex’s impeccable vocals to soar above the music.
Naturally with this being a hometown gig of sorts, the band’s legion of loyal fans were out in droves, singing along to every word and showing that, for many, these songs have already become classics.
An inspired cover of Waterfall, by indie legends The Stone Roses, concluded an all-too-short 30 minute set, with Alex announcing that the band would be returning to Wolverhampton again soon to play a full electric gig.
Once again, The Lines proved they have what it takes to command a stage, fill a venue and gain new fans. It can only be a matter of time before they themselves are the headline act.
While he may have appeared in newspapers more than in the charts recently due to his battles with drink and drugs, former Libertines frontman, Peter Doherty, appeared to be in fine form as he swaggered onto the stage wearing his trademark Trilby hat.
Accompanied by nothing more than a guitar and two ballerina dancers, he proceeded to play an impassioned, note-perfect set to silence his many detractors, featuring a wide range of material from his turbulent career.
The biggest cheers went up for Libertines classics such as Don’t Look Back Into The Sun, Time For Heroes and Can’t Stand Me Now, but songs from Peter’s Babyshambles era, such as Albion, also had each member of the audience singing along.
There was a particularly poignant moment when he dedicated a version of Amy Winehouse’s Tears Dry On Their Own to his late friend, saying: “Rest in peace, Amy”.
Despite all the adverse publicity he’s received in the Press, Peter Doherty proved himself to be a proficient and mesmerising performer. He’s a survivor.
And, as the crowd sang along to final track, F**k Forever, it was clear this perceived anti-hero remains a real hero to many.
Since November 1950, fans of this renowned local football team have enjoyed action-filled matches, played not for money, but out of love for ‘the beautiful game’.
It’s a feeling of excitement and a sense of passion many fans find lacking in top league matches. And, for Gornal Athletic Football Club’s new chairman Mat Danks, it’s the reason he returned to the team’s Garden Walk ground after an absence of several years.
“When I was a reporter for the Dudley News, I’d regularly attend matches to report on Gornal AFC,” he explains, “but, after leaving the newspaper to run my PR company, I tended to go and see bigger teams such as West Brom instead.
“However,” he continues, “I eventually fell out of love with top league football. Because of all the money involved, going to see a match has become a bit like going to the cinema – people’s expectations are much higher and they demand to be entertained.”
So, disillusioned with big name matches, Mat decided to go and take another look at his local team, Gornal AFC. And, it was a decision that led to some surprising developments.
“I began getting involved with the club and, before I knew it, was asked if I’d like to become chairman,” he explains. “They’d already got a great set of people and a fantastic manager, former Gornal striker Ian Rowe. I think they just needed someone with a business brain to build on this already excellent team.”
It’s a partnership that certainly seems to be paying off – this Saturday sees Gornal play Shifnal Town FC in the FA Cup preliminary round.
“We’ve got exceptional players and a strong squad,” says Mat. “Only one team goes up and we want to be that team.”
Saturday’s match promises to be a thrilling one but, according to Mat, fans can always expect plenty of action at any Gornal game.
He says: “You’re watching blokes who play for the love of the game. Although local, non-league clubs don’t enjoy the financial rewards of bigger teams, that doesn’t mean the excitement on the pitch is any less. In fact, very rarely will you see as much action as during one of our matches.”
Mat’s enthusiasm is infectious – something borne out by the way Gornal AFC is now attracting more and more fans through the club’s active use of social networking site Twitter.
“Social media is really helping us build bridges with teams all over the country,” he explains. “Using Twitter, we’ve developed links with Glaswegian Saturday morning side Tally Vic, for example. It’s opening doors and helping us connect with many new fans.”
And among Gornal’s ever-growing legion of supporters are the lads from Sedgley indie rock band, The Lines, who can also count Mat as one of their biggest fans.
He says: “I’ve seen them play about 50 times, all over the UK and abroad. They’re a superb band, a top bunch of lads and it’s great to know they support our team.”
Join the ranks of Gornal AFC’s many supporters for the all-important FA Cup match this Saturday, August 20. Kick-off is at 3pm.
They’ve sold out the 1,134 capacity Wulfrun Hall in Wolverhampton, performed at the famous SXSW music festival in Austin, Texas and played to 80,000 people at Donington Park.
From performing to a handful of people when they first formed in 2006, Sedgley-based indie rockers, The Lines, have certainly come a long way.
However, lead singer, Alex Ohm and his bandmates are always happy to return to their home town and swap touring for a tipple or two in their favourite local, the Beacon Hotel.
“Our most recent gig in Sheffield was crazy,” says Alex, unwinding with a cider in the beer garden of this historic hostelry.
“The venue’s capacity was 120, but there were easily around 150 people in there. It was ridiculously hot, but the atmosphere was fantastic. Chaotic, but great.”
Like many up-and-coming bands, Alex, lead guitarist Dean Bate, Dave “Paddy” O’Connor on drums and Danny Pease on bass, find themselves playing tiny venues one night and stadium gigs the next.
“I don’t know how we got the Donington gig,” laughs Alex. “We though we were only playing for about 100 people but soon realised the crowd was way larger than that.”
“We just looked at each other and thought ‘we’d better play well tonight’ ” elaborates Dean, himself nursing a pint of the pub’s own Sedgley Surprise ale.
Playing to such a huge crowd is not the only nerve-wracking experience the band members have had to endure. During a tour of the States, the boys found themselves performing to some of the music industry’s biggest names at an event in New York, but were pleased to have the support of bands they’d met while in Texas.
Alex explains: “Performing in New York was quite a daunting experience, but it was great that some of the bands we’d met at SXSW turned up. People often say they’ll come to your gig and don’t show – but these guys did!”
Playing America was an amazing experience for the band, but it was a trip that very nearly didn’t happen due to drummer Paddy’s penchant for streaking.
“It was something that happened years ago,” laughs Dean, “but, because he received a caution for his antics, Paddy had to before the officials and explain his actions. Ironically, he had a choice at the time between paying £60 or getting a caution. After all the extra money he spent getting a Visa, he’d have been better off just paying the fine in the first place!”
Now, having signed to indie label Amboy Road Records and with a huge roster of gigs under their belts, it seems major success is just around the corner for The Lines.
Not that it’s all been plain sailing for the lads. As well as original members Ryan Edwards and Chris Titley leaving the band in 2008, Alex and Co also had to contend with their original label going bust.
“It was a turbulent time,” says Alex. “When Chris left, we knew we wanted to continue, but we weren’t sure who’d replace him. Then, we thought of Danny – the only guy we knew who could fill his shoes. We weren’t disappointed – in just one week, he’d learned more than 70 songs!”
“In fact,” jokes Dean, “I think we made more mistakes than he did!”
So, with a strong team spirit once more and a record deal which gives them all the freedom they need to make music, what does the future hold for The Lines? After all, they’ll shortly be working on the dreaded ‘difficult second album’, following on from the huge local success of their debut.
“Everyday life is up and down and I think our music should reflect that,” explains Alex. “So, on the new album, there’ll be some dancier stuff mixed in with the slower songs. We’ve got one that starts off with a piano riff then evolves into this huge, Muse-style epic.”
Exciting times ahead then, which could include the band breaking into the lucrative American market. However, Alex, Dean and the rest of the gang are determined to keep their feet firmly on the ground by enjoying their favourite beers in Sedgley and showing their support for Gornal Athletic Football Club.
“I think it’s important to support local teams,” explains Alex. “In fact, they want us to record a track for when they come out onto the pitch.”
As well as the support from local football teams, Alex and Dean both agree that the support from other local bands has been a refreshing change from the intense competition between musicians normally reported in the media.
“Sedgley, Wolverhampton, the rest of the Black Country and Birmingham – everyone’s in it together,” says Alex.
He’s right. The Lines have built a huge loyal local following thanks to their exhilarating gigs and down-to-earth attitude.
It won’t be too long before the rest of the world follows suit.