After a six month tour of the US and two top-20 singles in the American Triple A charts, 2011 was a
landmark year for Scars On 45. Anybody could forgive the Leeds/Bradford acoustic rockers for being
swept away by the Land of Opportunity. Thankfully, they have not forgotten where they came from
as they end the year with a sell out gig at The Cockpit, Leeds.
Before the show even begins, members of the band are spotted mingling with the busy crowd,
greeting their audience with genuine affection. They seem keen to acknowledge the support of
everybody who spurred them on their journey so far. This sets the tone for the entire evening.
Throughout the show, lead singers Danny Bemrose and Aimee Driver make several points of
thanking those who had “been there from the start”.
Before Scars arrive on stage, a personal message is played for the Cockpit crowd against the
soundtrack of Fatboy Slim’s Right Here, Right Now. The message comes from American DJ
Ric “Rocco” Bennett from Cleveland Radio, one of Scars On 45’s biggest advocates in the US, and
described by bassist Stuart Nichols as the band’s “American Dad”.
With the crowd suitably warmed up, the band takes to the stage with their opener Tomorrow Won’t
Die Too Soon. It becomes immediately clear why Scars On 45’s music has been featured on such
television dramas as CSI:New York, Grey’s Anatomy and One Tree Hill. Their brand of Americana
roots rock with lilting 3-part harmonies is perfect soundtrack material.
Before the second song, singer Aimee reveals that she is recovering from a lost voice, and urges the
audience to help her by singing along. The crowd duly oblige and nearly lift the roof as they are left
alone to sing the first verse of the anthemic Beauty’s Running Wild.
Next up is Promises and Empty Words. Aimee is clearly struggling as she holds her throat
throughout, but still delivers a flawless vocal performance capable of bringing down any arena. The
vocal melody is the main driver of this beautifully crafted pop-song. You cannot help but wonder if
Beyonce or Rihanna released this song next week whether we would see it atop every chart.
The tempo lifts for the next few songs, which includes latest single Heart On Fire. The faultless blend
of electric and acoustic instruments with keyboard undertones creates a comforting yet full sound
reminiscent of The Wallflowers and Counting Crows.
The second half of the set shows a different side to Scars On 45. A brief acoustic rendition of Oasis’
Rock and Roll Star, a minor-key take on Rhianna’s We Found Love, and even a surprise excerpt from
Dappy’s No Regrets, the band demonstrate that they are more than just solid performers. They are
also great entertainers.
One of the set’s highlights was Lucy; a piano ballad that shows a darker side to Scars On 45. Singers
Danny and Aimee take it in turns to perform this Damien Rice style story-telling duet. The haunting
piano part and longing chorus line has echoes of The Feeling’s Rosé. Biting lyrics such as “I’m not
your slave/I can never give the attention you crave,” combined with more sentimental offerings
as “Forget now/I’ll just say how I feel/Please believe it somehow,” are the ideal gloss to the drama
created in this musical masterpiece.
Towards the end of the set, the band delivers a more British flavour. Don’t Say, made famous as the
soundtrack to the latest Jacob’s Creek advertisement, is a pacy yet subtle and melodic number, once
again showing Scars On 45’s versatility. There is a clear Fleetwood Mac influence with shades of
Doves and early Snow Patrol. The up-tempo shuffle beat of Loudest Alarm gives the song a cheeky
country feel, similar to acoustic works of The Kinks or Supergrass. The band’s wonderful delivery of
harmonious vocals is once again a heavy feature.
The band’s last song is their trademark ending Breakdown. A groove similar to Coldplay’s Yellow,
a deliciously infectious slide guitar hook, and more tight vocal harmonies makes this the perfect
finisher. The band end the set as they started; reminding us all why they are the ultimate
Scars On 45 return to the stage for an encore, during which technical difficulties see Aimee adlibbing
her way through Alanis Morissette’s Ironic.
Unable to mend the glitch, the band plough on regardless. After one final thank you and recognition
of friends and loved ones, they play their US Triple A Chart Top 3 single Give Me Something. The
catchy sing-along chorus, “Give me something/something to hold on to”, has the audience in full
voice. Halfway through, the band seamlessly blends into a cover of Fleetwood Mac’s Dreams,
before returning to one final chorus of Give Me Something and receiving the biggest applause of the
Scars On 45 are extremely refreshing. Inevitably, there will be those who suggest that their music is
a little “safe”, but this is in fact what makes them great. They do not appear to be hung-up on the
idea of creating ground-breaking music. They instead seem to focus on being masters of their genre.
On tonight’s performance, it’s obvious that very few bands rehearse as seriously as Scars On 45.
Even fewer show as much attention to detail to vocal, instrumental and melodic arrangements. The
work the band put in to perfect their sound reflects in the success they have enjoyed in 2011.
With their long awaited debut album set for release in March, 2012 is expected to be a big year for
the Yorkshire’s American adventurers.