[sic] Magazine

The Wide – Rockschicht, Viersen, 27.10.2018

Review by Gavin Fearnley

This shouldn’t be happening.

Not the concert, you understand. Nor the fact four of the Dead Guitars decided to regroup and form The Wide after the departure of singer Carlo van Putten. And, no, there’s not a problem with gigs in the small outpost of Viersen, a German town of just 75,000 people, close to the border of the Netherlands.

But where are all these people coming from? The place is packed. If it’s not sold out, I’d hate to be trying to get a beer when there are no more tickets left.

This shouldn’t be happening. Not to a group who only released their debut album, Paramount, the day before.

Yet, here we are. Rammed in together at Viersen’s Rockschicht venue, waiting for a band very few have actually ever heard before… at least in their current guise.
And yes, in darkened corners people are openly saying they’re here only because of the electrifying reputation of the Dead Guitars, a band adored by devotees, attracting fans from Sweden, Belgium and Britain to annual Christmas gigs in Mönchengladbach.

Tonight, for The Wide, there are some of the old faces from before.
Before, when we knew exactly what we were getting. Before, when there was a different singer. Before, when Pete Brough and Ralf Aussem were responsible for sharing guitar duties (rhythm and lead, respectively). The love for the Dead Guitars was palpable. What happens if this doesn’t work out? Broken hearts and stories of epic nights watching the ‘old band’ in places like Utrecht and Cologne?

We needn’t have worried. Coming on to riotous cheering akin to when a football manager returns with the cup, the band start with the only song most people will have heard by now, ‘Walking Away’, released onto the internet a few weeks earlier. Brough moves from his traditional spot, stage left, to the centre in front of the microphone on lead vocals.
Can he pull it off? Yes, he emphatically fucking can.
The opener chugs on like a locomotive, with Aussem’s beguiling guitar wizardry crashing into us like sonic waves of beauty. With lyrics about the end of a relationship (“Giving up on you, is so hard to do”), is it wrong to think it might be about the break-up of the Dead Guitars? You decide.
Although the keyboards are no longer there, reassuringly Kurt Schmidt is back on bass and Hermann Eugster returns to the drums. As far as openers go, the statement is clear: this isn’t just the left-overs of another band. The Wide mean business.

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So, what remains after the personnel and name change?
What about Aussem’s ability to pull impossible sounds out of his guitar? Check.
Solid basslines and heavy, stable drumming? Check.
Great song writing? Check.
It’s all here. As loud and as mind-boggling as ever.
The how-do-they-do-this factor is back. It’s all here. Kneel down beside your bed and thank the stars, it’s all here.

“I never wanted this job”, Brough tells us half-smiling and surely half-seriously. He looks perfectly comfortable as a frontman, always hitting the notes. After the opener we’re introduced to new songs such as ‘Girl’ and ‘Eyes Are Close’, the audience getting louder in their appreciation after each track.

Things slow down a little for ‘Heroine’ and the soaring ‘Fall for Your Love’ before the glam-rock, riff-heavy stomp of ‘Fearkilling Love’. With ‘Stars’ we’re given an insight into perhaps one of the best James Bond theme songs that never was. Tell the Broccolis.
Is this a change in direction for the lads? ‘So In Love’ compounds this idea even more, sounding like it could have been pulled from the BeatlesRevolver album. It’s glorious… grand… grandiose. “How does it feel to be in heaven?” sings Brough. A quick look around at the audience reveals Cheshire Cat-like grins, suggesting some of us now know.
After the T-Rex esque hip-shake of ‘You’, we’re led into the breathtakingly brilliant title track of The Wide’s debut album. And with ‘Paramount’, we run into the-worst-thing-about-writing-about-music.
In the same way it’s hard to describe colours to someone who cannot see, there are not quite enough words in the English language to describe how the band pulls this off live. If we used adjectives like ‘epic’, ‘colossal’ or ‘vast’ to explain how this song sounds on stage, it wouldn’t reach anywhere near the truth. When the band step back and let Aussem’s guitar playing loose, assaulting us with a wall of sound, we are left with only one wish: don’t let this ever, ever end. It’s spectacular. But again, that’s not a word which does this justice. The song is staggeringly good and at over ten minutes long tonight, it’s still too short.

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An encore of two songs so new they weren’t on the album (‘So Long, John’ and ‘Only 4 You’) carry on the euphoria to great enthusiasm from an appreciative audience. But it’s undoubtedly the genius of ‘Paramount’ which will continue to ring in our ears long after this gig. If music can ever feel bigger than life then it’s with this.

“How does it feel to be in heaven?” we were asked. Well, here is your answer. Music bigger than life and in Viersen of all places. This shouldn’t be happening… should it?

First Glances

Shelter

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