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Twisted Illusion - The Star And Garter, Manchester 01.06.2019

Twisted Illusion finished their Excite The Light Part 1 UK Tour 2019 on 01/06/2019, the night was special to the fans for a number of reasons firstly, it was the hometown show, the band have traditionally had great turnouts at their hometown shows (by all accounts their shows are generally busy these days wherever they're playing there's always a local contingent of faithful fans). The second reason that this would be a special show was the line-up of musicians playing, there were no support acts so we would see Twisted Illusion playing the entire night, the core band were joined by studio drummer for 'Excite The Light Part 2' and 'Insight To The Mind Of A Million Faces' Phil Shacklady for the middle portion of the evening, that second set would open with a rather special cover, featuring guest guitarist Daz Dean, but I'll get to that shortly. Twisted Illusion 2019 is an almost entirely different animal from Twisted Illusion 2018, the line up has been revitalised with new blood after Matt McDade and Mark Wagstaff departed following the band's end-of-year show in December, Saxon Davids is now an official member of the band having previously guested and been pencilled in to record with the band for the next two albums, his permanent status in the band has been bolstered by new blood in the rhythm section with Cici Powell-Melkonian on Bass, a young lady whose exceptional talents have reinvigorated the band no end along with Chris Jenkins behind the kit, a prodigiously talented sticksman in his own right, finishing off the line-up we were treated (albeit occasionally not with sufficient volume) to the marvellous keyboard skills of Andy Gottieri.

The show opened up with a collection of cuts from the first Twisted Illusion album, these got the crowd up and excited as a familiar but somewhat supercharged appetiser, these were followed by the excellent 'Medicated Society', a personal highlight from the upcoming 'Excite The Light Part 1', before we were treated to the title track from the, still unreleased, album (although almost everyone in the room knew these songs intimately, this is the power of crowdfunding in the world of Twisted Illusion), following this the band performed a medley joining up the two parts of "Imitate Me" from 'Temple Of Artifice'. A short break followed before Cici returned to the stage along with Phil Shacklady and guest guitatist Daz Dean to play the first section of Rush's classic '2112' & Matt joined them to provide some spectacular vocals (almost indistinguishable from Geddy Lee's originals). After this Daz left the stage and Saxon returned, the band played a few selections from 'Insight To The Mind Of A Million Faces', songs which had until now rarely received an outing, they were very well received by the crowd this evening. During these tunes Andy returned to the stage and after they were done Chris replaced Phil behind the kit and the band proceeded to wow the crowd further playing last year's big single from Excite Part 1 'No Compromise' followed by Matt playing a delicate almost entirely solo rendition of 'Night Light' (with some embellishments from Andy and Saxon strumming when Matt played his solo). Matt then thanked the audience for the support they had provided the band before they broke into their most known tune (certainly by their fans) 'Hatred Is A Virtue' complete with an almost ambient extended jam at the end, an incredible way to end what had (certainly for this crowd) been an excellent night. After this, the band began mingling chatting and happily signing items of merchandise as well as posing for photographs with members of the crowd. The band are expecting to finish recording the second part of Excite The Light very soon moving on to record the third part hopefully before the end of the year, meanwhile Matt Jones is planning an acoustic tour for the back end of the year and a few select appearances around and about for the band in coming months. This is a band truly at the peak of their powers and the future looks bright for these talented musicians, catch them whenever you can.

Review - Mike McLaughlin

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