The Black Country beasts brought their own style of lewd, loud and luscious rock to the stately slumbers of Stafford. Sam Lambeth was there to dilly and dally.
The Dalliance are disgruntled. With one of the stage monitors refusing to emit any sound, frontman Big Cheka cuts a curt figure. It’s a mood that suits the Black Country behemoths down to the ground, however – tonight the five-piece run on rage, propelled by peevishness with bass riffs that bludgeon, guitar riffs that are anvil heavy and songs that leave emotional lacerations.
Last time I saw The Dalliance, it was a statelier affair. Led by an Italian bon viveur, there was a sweet sprinkle over their manly guitar motifs that made the boys roar and the girls swoon. With a new frontman in tow, though, they’re now serving up gristle, and the taste is much more rewarding – if before they were pre-pubescent, The Dalliance now have enough hairs round their knackers to fill Corbyn’s cabbage patch.
The extra heaviness may or may not have been bought by the presence of Cheka, but as frontman he brings a steelier sense of showmanship. Squeezed into an all-black ensemble that looks set to burst at the seams, Cheka soon finds the stage a little too small for him, too. He leaps and jerks with the mic like a cage fighter beckoning in his opponent, the jet-black riffery of ‘Heartbreaker’ and ‘Superman’ the perfect fit for fight music.
He’s also a capable frontman, trading quips with the crowd and urging the rest of the band on like a grizzled MC. Maybe he spots a rogue cap in the crowd, or maybe Cheka thinks it’s the perfect storm of audience and subject, but halfway through one song he unleashes an ill-advised tribute to Limp Bizkit with a blast of ‘My Way’. The audience politely sway, but the D they want to hear is Dalliance, not Durst – there is nothing limp about this band, and Cheka soon realizes he needs to keep it hard.
Storming through the rest of the set, the propulsive bass of James Downes and the shameless shredding of Harold Colley intertwine like classic rock kites, never to be freed again. As they end with a wonderfully deafening blast of taut punk, you realise if you’re going to dally with these guys, you’re going to leave with a broken hymen rather than a broken heart. Step in if you think you’re hard enough.