THE GALLERY: REWS @ The Flapper 17.11.18

REWS @ The Flapper 17.11.18 / Phil Drury

On Saturday 17th November, REWS came back to Birmingham, rounding off their five date UK tour at The Flapper in Birmingham – with local support from MeMe Detroit, alongside Marshall Records label mate Thousand Thoughts.

Now it’s no secret that both Birmingham and Birmingham Review love REWS, with the alt-rock duo having had some stellar sell out shows in this city over the past year; needless to say we were a little ‘Christmas come early’. But this evening was another step up, with REWS playing to their biggest headline crowd in the city to date – packing the rafters at the iconic canal side music venue, with barely enough room left to swing/swig a shot of rum. Or see, if you’re a under 6ft…

REWS @ The Flapper 17.11.18 / Callum LeesLuckily some of us were born with the gift of height and managed to get through the crowds – to check out the full Flicker of pics from Phil Drury, of all bands on the bill, click here.

And although he had to shoot off back to the provinces before the headline act, Callum Lees managed to snap up some extra shots of the support acts – for the full Flicker of his pics, click here.

We also had a new reporter in the crowd, to give you a fresh narrative thread to hold on to whilst you peruse THE GALLERY – so dust off your best Meryl Streep internal monologue, sit back, reminisce or relive, and welcome Emma Curzon to Casa Review de la Brummagem. Ah, those misty water coloured memories… come back and see us soon REWS.




Words by Emma Curzon / Pics by Phil Drury & Callum Lees

In an atrocious betrayal of student-kind, I must admit I’m not overly acquainted with the world of alt-rock. I was given, however, a very promising introduction into it on Saturday 17th November.Thousand Thoughts - supporting REWS @ The Flapper 17.11.18 / Callum Lees The gig was headlined by London/Belfast duo REWS and hosted by Birmingham Review/Metropolis Music, at the cosy-yet-mysterious canal side pub The Flapper.

The line-up held solid performances throughout the night – although I was never quite enraptured by Thousand Thoughts, who opened the evening. They were good, but not spectacular. Still, I was genuinely touched by ‘Be Frank’ – a more tender, sedate number pleading to the addressee to open up about their mental health struggles.

MeMe Detroit - supporting REWS @ The Flapper 17.11.18 / Callum LeesThe recently renamed four piece are a new signing to Marshall Records – becoming label mates and tour support for the night’s headliners – and are arguably still finding their feet. No doubt we’ll get to see them again next time they pass through the city. Plus, as mentioned, I’m not the biggest devotee of alt-rock… so mix these words well before baking and add just a pinch of salt.

Next up, local support MeMe Detroit (plus her band) gave the room a huge energy boost – at one point, we are ordered to “sing your fucking hearts out”. Amen to that.

REWS @ The Flapper 17.11.18 / Phil DruryOn the cusp of releasing her Life in the Now EP, MeMe Detroit gave a commendable performance – one both heartfelt and dynamic (my personal highlight was the refrain of ‘Love Transcends All Again’) – and threw herself into it with much head-banging and dancing, at one point taking her guitar for a quick dash through the audience.

However, the best was definitely saved for last. With their slick onstage outfits, REWS’ would not have looked out of place alongside the cast of a Disney Channel musical – but once they started it became obvious: Shauna Tohill and Collette Williams most certainly did not come to just play at being rock stars.

REWS @ The Flapper 17.11.18 / Phil DruryWilliams played the drums with the poise and precision of a concert pianist, but still positively exploding with enthusiasm and vigour. Meanwhile Tohill’s skill, and more importantly her passion, shone through in every note – as she threw her whole body into her performance, making it even more of a joy to watch.

Their opening songs probably showed this to the greatest effect and were my favourite part of the entire night. The audience appeared to agree – many were clearly veteran fans and sang along with great enthusiasm, the sudden energy boost as obvious as it was catching. The best was one of their oldest tracks but most recent single, ‘Can You Feel It?’ – a straight and simple rock anthem with frequent repetition, but of joyous, inspiring lyrics telling us to “Dance like no-one’s watching” and creating a rousing crowd-pleaser full of infectious joie-de-vivre.

REWS @ The Flapper 17.11.18 / Phil DruryOther well recognised tracks from the REWS repertoire, such ‘Death Yawn’ and ‘Shake Shake’, got a similarly ferocious response. Although a few of the set’s latter (and possibly newer?) songs didn’t land quite as well, missing some of the intensity that made the more well-versed numbers so enjoyable. REWS did, however, throw in a cover of 4 Non Blonde’s ‘What’s Up?’ that pushed the room to an almost health and safety challenging fever pitch – a new set addition Williams had alluded to in a recent interview with Birmingham Review.

So, my verdict: I’m still wouldn’t call myself an alt-rock aficionado, but if I was ever to have an introduction to the genre this was a good night for it. And I’d love to see REWS perform again, considering the band have ended their last two UK tours in Birmingham there’s a fingers crossed chance we may all get to as well. I’d better brush up, now where’s that’s copy of Kerrang! gone…




REWS – with support from MeMe Detroit + Thousand Thoughts @ The Flapper 17.11.18 / Phil Drury & Callum Lees


For more on REWS, visit

For more on MeMe Detroit, visit

For more on Thousand Thoughts, visit

For from The Flapper, including venue details and further event listings, visit


NOT NORMAL – NOT OK is a campaign to encourage safety and respect within live music venues, and to combat the culture of sexual assault and aggression – from dance floor to dressing room.

To learn more about the NOT NORMAL – NOT OK campaign, click here. To sign up and join the NOT NORMAL – NOT OK campaign, click here.

If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this feature – or if you want to report an act of sexual aggression, abuse, or assault – click here for information via the ‘Help & Support’ page on the NOT NORMAL – NOT OK website.

ALBUM: Pyro – Rews 03.11.17

Rews @ The Flapper and Firkin 15.02.17 / Paul Reynolds - Birmingham Review

Words by Ed King / Pics by Paul Reynolds

Big day today. A red-letter day, as Rews release their debut album, Pyro, to a legitimately eagerly awaiting world.

Well, this little corner is perched on its seat at least. And I suspect I’m not alone. Half of Glastonbury, for one. Marc Radcliffe for another. No doubt some friends and family. The Hawley Arms.  The Railway Inn. The list continues…

Birmingham Review first saw Rews back in February this year, when the ferocious twosome came to The Flapper & Firkin – headlining a somewhat smug support band and nailing every second of it. Fun and furious in all the right ways, Rews were a clear win. So much so, in fact, that along with a couple of other acts that we love more than is probably good for us we’ve invited them to play our Christmas bash at the Actress & Bishop (…Sat Nov 25th, 8 quid, for more of this shameless plug click here).

Rews @ The Flapper and Firkin 15.02.17 / Paul Reynolds - Birmingham Review Signing to Marshall Records pretty much around the time we saw them at The Flapper, Rews have been busy building momentum and recording an album over the past year. A busy festival season, some hand-picked showcase gigs and a pretty healthy portfolio of radio plays took care of the first bit, whilst Shauna (Tohill) and Collette (Williams), aka Rews, locked themselves into a studio to deliver the second bit. And the result is Pyro – released on Friday 3rd November, through the amp wielding rock monster that is Marshall Records.

Live, Rews are unassailable. So, then… is Pyro any good?

As I’m listening to Pyro, courtesy of sneaky stream from their management, I’ve got the other ear on Radio One – not a station I usually listen to, but Rews are dropping a triptych of teasers from their debut album during the Huw Stephens Show. I’m steadily working up to my own opinion, but I also want to hear what it sounds like in the middle of Playlist A.

Kicking off (a deliberate metaphor) with ‘Let It Roll’, it’s pretty clear from the start that Rews have come to play – Pyro is not pulling punches, as the album’s opener unleashes an unashamed barrage of grab you by the balls rock. ‘Rip Up My Heart’ continues in the same vein, and I can’t help but think of the heavier end of Seattle in the late 90’s and the first time Mike Patton turned up for rehearsal – but that might just be me.

Tohill has those gifted vocals that can range from an almost conversational calm to a high pitched TEAR YOU FACE OFF ROAR, then duck back under the covers as if nothing ever happened. ‘Violins’, track three as we march through this debut, is a near perfect example of this, backed to the hilt by the animalesque thunderclap machine that is Collette Williams. And trust me, this combo is something quite phenomenal live. Then ‘Shine’, the first taste of this here album, comes out with its slightly darker claws; there’s something unflinching about this track and I want it to push, push, push… but how the hell am I going to throw myself down the abyss in under three and a half minutes?

Then back to the back catalogue, before signatures and deadlines, with two of the pop-rock-fingers-up-slapped-face anthems that dragged us into this chaos in the first place, as ‘Death Yawn’ and ‘Miss You in the Dark’ run over you in quick succession. Rews have an unnerving knack of penning easy to catch earworms, a phrase I’m borrowing for this review, and are absurdly fun with it in the process. ‘Death Yawn’ is perhaps my favourite example of this here (especially when you paint the picture what, and whom, it was inspired by) although both these tracks have been stuck in my head since I first heard them over eight months ago.

Speaking of which, I am a tad dismayed not to see ‘Can You Feel It?’ on the track listing for Pyro. Despite appropriating one of the world’s most tired clichés (and using another for the title) it’s a crazy fun track – one that is not only backed by a great melody, but that explodes with the raw versatility of what two talented people can do if you just let them run. Anyway, not my album. And if I’m being supercilious with my lexicon, plonk me in front of an upright piano and get your own back. Drunk spiders…

Rews @ The Flapper and Firkin 15.02.17 / Paul Reynolds - Birmingham Review Then perhaps the cream of this particular crop, or at least the bright forward face of Rews to come, as the album’s second single, ‘Your Tears’, jumps out like Fonzi over shark infested water (Google it). A simple message of self empowerment, a rough edged beginning, that pause… then a chorus that will napalm itself to your brain. Awesome. The danger for Rews, as with every rising balloon, is how firm is their grip. But if giving them a ticking clock, an advance that one day needs to balance out, and enough public pressure to make any normal human want to curl into the foetal position, brings out tracks like ‘Your Tears’ then the plan seems to be working.

Not, however, for ‘We Explode’. I am always asking Birmingham Review contributors to balance their reviews, what I call ‘the velvet glove punch’, and this is where I rein in my adulation. Not a fan of this track; from the staccato start, across the store bought chorus, and through the Pumpkins appropriated spiral into discord, this is Pyro’s weak link. To me. But go out and buy the album then you can argue me down, I just know Rews can deliver better and I have nine other tracks at hand to prove it.

‘Shake Shake’ quickly remedies this dip, with a restrained verse leading up into the kind of chorus that makes you… well, the title maps the landscape out quite clearly. A cracking song, again awesome live, and one I suspect may have been lined up with ‘Can You Feel it?’ in the track listing lotto. Rews @ The Flapper and Firkin 15.02.17 / Paul Reynolds - Birmingham Review

And to kiss the whole thing goodbye, another wonderfully promising glimpse of Rews to come – as ‘Running Against the Wall’ builds a glorious intro of percussion and keys, into a joint vocal message of fuck you adversity. Then it just rocks. Something Rews do with an unashamed and infectious success rate.

There you have it – one man’s opinion. We laughed, we cried, we drove recklessly and punched a hole in the wall… but I’m backing this band. Rews have proven themselves time and time again in a live setting and now they’ve nailed an album. I sense greenfields, bloodshed and glory. Plus, Pyro kicked the front teeth out of everything that got played around it on the Huw Stephen’s Show, so job done on that front too.

Mark it on a calendar, carve it on a wall; Friday 3rd November, in the year of our Lord 2017. Pyro came to pass. And if anything deserves ornate calligraphy in bull’s blood…

‘Your Tears’ – Rews

Pyro, the debut album from Rews, is released via Marshall Records on Friday 3rd November, For more onRews, including online sales of Pyro and live gig listings, visit

Rews play at the Birmingham Review Christmas Party (Winter Showcase) on Saturday 25th November at the Actress & Bishop, 36 Ludgate Hill, Birmingham B3 1EH. For more event info, including links to online tickets sales, click here.