Another sell-out success!

Another month, another jam-packed Relentless Energy Session....

Dark Horses appeared in a cloud of smoke and with a strong nod to their biker-rock image jumped up on stage as a forceful vox-pop from a Hell's Angel from the Stones' catastrophic Altamont gig blared out over the soundsystem.

It was with the same intensity that the lead singer Lisa Elle stared out at the crowd, her strong PJ Harvey-esque wails blending in with the band's layers of bleeding echoes, tribal drumming and even airs of a Celtic mystique throughout their short set.

Her powerful, demanding incantations were at some points spiritual and leaning towards the psychedelic, but it was the appearance of a bequiffed man in leathers and shades wielding a giant metal chain that took the audience's attention. Most noticeably when he started thrashing it on the stage in beat with the percussion, and simultaneously caused the front few rows to take a step back. Further research reveals him to be called Tommy Chains and thankfully he later downgraded to the tambourine but not before bashing away on the chains for a second time, sadly taking away from the atmosphere so carefully built up throughout the set.

Anna Calvi was next to step on stage, opening with a bluesy guitar solo. She cuts a slight figure on stage, but when she opens her mouth, the remarkable soaring, rich voice that blasts out is truly something special. Jezebel is by far and away her most incredible track, a cover of a 1950s hit that she turns into a dramatic, threatening stomp of a song, all sultry stylings but with impassioned spirit. It's easy to see why she was the perfect support for Nick Cave's Grinderman earlier this year. She pairs her majestic voice with some nifty finger work on her electric guitar, wielding her instrument and bringing to mind a retro spirit as she captivates the audience with follow on tracks Blackout and Moulinette. Her equally powerful and and soulful songs should pave the way for great things for Anna in 2011 – for such a talent, she could easily repeat the success of someone like Florence Welch.

Crippled Black Phoenix are such an epic supergroup, they literally spill off the Relentless stage and into the audience as they struggle to fit the vast band of eight players, including two keys, two guitars, drums and a cello. But it's this collective of band members from the likes of Iron Monkey, Mogwai and Gonga that gives them a great multi-functionality as a group, allowing them to explore their back catalogue of four albums, showcasing the different members of the group throughout the 45 minute set. The band set the tone with the epic, post-rock they've been come to be known for, veering into more prog tracks as the session takes on more of life of its own, as heavy riffs ebb and flow out into the room with the direction of the lead singer, Joe Volk and CBP founder Justin Greaves.

Several members take it in turns to hop offstage as the focus turns to a classical interlude with the Charlotte Nichols on cello, before the engaging Volk jumps back on to take it back to grinding, throbbing rock with long instrumental solos – exactly what the super-fans nodding furiously were here to enjoy.

Words by Laura Martin
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