Circus Junkie Rebels – The Sugarmill, Stoke, 22/12/15

Rock ‘n’ Rollers give a master-class in how to put on a show.


I have a soft spot for bands that understand the importance of shows as a way to not just play their music, but also to deliver a miraculous display of entertaining showmanship. Circus Junkie Rebels, with their sound so deeply engrained into the late 70’s/early 80’s post-rock ‘n’ roll scene (think Guns ‘n’ Roses), fortunately manage to flawlessly channel the spectacle their influences did.

So in breaking from the typical tradition of a band going up on stage to perform their songs, maybe with mild audience interaction, before leaving, the band are accompanied with a strong visual element. While to most artists this may be a nice video playing on the backdrop, Circus Junkie Rebels go the extra mile and bring along what they’ve dubbed on the tickets themselves as a freakshow.

Cue the sparkler cannons, the firebreathers and the drill-swallowers. Front of audience immersion of freakshow stunts don’t detract from the show as much as you think, but do add an element of unpredictability to the set. This works unceasingly in the favour of CJR, who recognise the necessity to make live shows feel like an actual event when there are many other rock ‘n’ roll bands competing for the limelight against them.

Though it should be noted that the band are much more than visual quality. The songs are passion-packed and powerful, delivered with a devastating amount of musical skill and craftsmanship. New life is blown into latest single Endless Dream to engulf the audience, while the ferocity of unreleased track Stick To Your Guns doesn’t let up the intensity despite much of the audience having never heard it before.

Atop this, frontman Dani Rankin commands an audience like no other while also actively making use of the stage. Not a single person, band nor audience, is static as a result.

Circus Junkie Rebels, regardless of whether you explicitly enjoy the genre itself, can make a fan of anybody with their electrifying stage show. They are the go-to example of a new band delivering quality on all fronts. I would recommend any lover of new music to see them and fall in love, and any new artist to watch them to learn a thing or seven. They are a mighty masterclass of passion, power and pure exhilaration.

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