The Storys, 100 Club, London
From the opening song "I Believe in Love", with its hopeful chorus, The Storys don't so much wear their influences on their sleeves as have them branded to their arms.
Seventies soft rock is where it's at for the band, the major touchstone being The Eagles' country rock, while The Byrds and Jackson Browne vie for attention too. With four singer-songwriters sharing vocals and adding soft harmonies they also recall Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young.
With the second song, a mid-tempo ballad called "Be By Your Side", they call to mind a female-less Fleetwood Mac. It's all rather derivative and not terribly exciting, but there are some nice tunes and sweet melodies peppered through their set. They are confident, assured players and share a tight dynamic.
The band comprises six seasoned musicians from South Wales. They formed in 2003, releasing their self-titled debut album in 2005. Later this month they will put out a second record, Town Beyond the Trees. A trained singer, frontman Steve Balsamo has been almost famous since landing a West End role in Les Misérables in 1996, aged 21. Later he played the lead in Jesus Christ Superstar. In early 2002 he released a solo album, All I Am, with Sony, but he was soon dropped. The Storys was his next port of call.
Dressed in black jeans and tight white T-shirt, Balsamo looks like the Seventies rock god he aspires to be, with a powerful voice to match. However, hampered by the small 100 Club stage, his and the band's performance is stilted. Some new tracks provide a little variety from the slow-burning ballad theme, adding a pop-rock slant in the vein of INXS or Bryan Adams.
But despite their radio-friendly music, one wonders whether the band will find a big audience. Recent support slots with Elton John, Katie Melua and Joe Cocker might help.
Singer Balsamo makes repeated reference to the band's appearance in the British crime film The Bank Job. Between songs, the frontman jokes that all bands want their music to be used in films in order to pay the bills. To survive, The Storys' sunshine pop might need to have a few more such paydays.
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