14th December 2014 Review by Ritchie Birnie Photography by Gavin Lowrey
Queue the Scooby Doo flashback music (I can hear you doing it), grab your flares, get on your Afghan and dab liberally with patchouli oil…..its back to the 70s we go. Talking about patchouli oil, I did actually smell some a few times tonight. Took me way back to the holy grail of all concert venues, the Glasgow Apollo. She was an old, broken lady but there never was or has been a venue like it. I should know as I have travelled the length and breadth of this country trying to find the same spark to no avail.
Rival Sons would have been an ideal band to play there. They would have slotted in well, them and the recent, healthy influx of 70s groove bands. I wonder if it is Rock’s fan base demographics these days that is escalating the likes of Rival Sons, The Answer, The Temperance Movement and even to an extent the support tonight, Blues Pills…..or is it just a love of a different, more earthy sound in this age of technical advancements? Is it the same reason the sales of Vinyl has grown year on year recently? Do we no longer want perfect sounding, clear instruments? I still have all my Vinyl, some dating back to 1980. I still smile every time I hear that hiss and pop when the needle goes in the groove. Holding a record sleeve I can actually read. Sod your downloads and gimme some grimy sounds.
Rival Sons have definitely cut a path with these bands and have a solid foundation and following, as can be seen with this long ago sold out show In the Glasgow 02 ABC( an old cinema with the biggest disco ball you have ever seen). The crowd is completely mixed of age and sex. Good music has no boundaries. And good music is on the cards tonight. First up the support band.
I have been waiting to see this band since they had to pull out of the support slot with Scorpion Child last year due to bad weather. Over a year in waiting but it was well worth it. They played a blistering, although short set. They burst into the brilliant, early heart esche High Class woman, and if you saw Elin after the show you would agree….even with the small bear on her head. Next up the half brothers Zack and Cory show their worth in the rhythm section on Aint no change. Trippy, no hope left for me is a slow, Joplin like number but goes down well with plenty of singing along from the crowd.
We finish up with Devil man and Little sun. A great showcase for the band and anyone who hasn’t seen the Blues Pills live. It will keep myself and the large number of Pills t-shirt wearing fans tonight happy until next years April tour. Can’t wait.
Now the reason why we are here. The lights go down, The video boards spark to life and out stroll the band. You can tell we are getting near the end of the tour as Jay Buchanan’s trousers are un ironed and the poor boy has no clean socks. Irrelevant to his own personal clothing issues he breaks into You Want to.
One note sang and I don’t think anyone would care if he walked out in a nappy. The man has a sublime voice. The love child of Salvador Dali and Captain Jack Sparrow that is Scott Holiday rips the brilliant riff open with the very Zeppelin sounding song. Straight onto Pressure and time to keep the Zeppelin vibe up. Electric man is up next with the crowd chanting away.
Tonight they do a great version, even better than the recent appearance on Jools Holland( if you didn’t see it get on you tube now). I do have a question. What and where is this Sugar shack….and why are you taking me there?
Time for the doors like Good Luck. Jay grabs the tambourine and the guitars and bass get hazy and distorted. We get another song from the fantastic Great Western Valkyrie. Secret is way better live than it will ever be on record. Its made for veering of course. It lets jay dance and bop around the stage like a mixture between Morrissey and Robert Smith. 5 songs in and Jay hasn’t spoken a word to the crowd or even cracked a smile. As the next few songs poured out I got to wondering.
This band is tight. The vocals tremendous so why am I feeling a bit empty? What isn’t clicking? It’s difficult to put your finger on. The crowd are enjoying it but nothing frenzied. The band have came a long way in recent years. To kick on they are going to need more. I have seen a lot of bands over the years and you just know when a band has made it as far as they can go. Very rarely have I been wrong on this, no matter how much I wish for it to be different( the band thunder being the one at the top of the list). But you need something extra to take it to the next level and be an arena band these days. It is not like the 80s, you didn’t even need much talent to do an arena tour.
Those days are gone and if Rival sons are to step out of the smaller/mid sized venue they need to step up to the plate. They need to engage the audience. They need something that keeps bringing the fans back. If you don’t speak to them or do something different each show will be the same. I hope the guys manage it as there is too much talent to waste here.
Rich and Poor is a great song. It should be a soundtrack song to many a western movie. It was made for django unchained. Where I’ve been smoulders. The bluesy sound lulls us into the chorus and the rest of the show as it really starts to pick up here. Jay talks to us about not judging people. About not caring what they have done in the past, its what they do now. It is a nice sentiment but when thinking about it later I don’t know how morally right that statement is. Asking for forgiveness does not cover up your sins I am afraid.
Tell me something and Get what’s coming carry us into the encore. Its at this point I really take in the fantastic light show they have. The guy in charge here does a fine job. The waiting over and Michael Miley takes us into Open my eyes. A great tune with a riff Tony Iommi would be proud of.
The crowd get right into this and continue on with scared Tongue, maybe just a little too slow and misplaced for the encore. Highlight of the show for me was Jordan. This really shows all of Jay’s ability, not to mention the rest of the guys and then we finish with the stomping Keep on swinging. A seriously good time song and the only thing they could finish on.
A great show by a great band. Do not take my musings and negative points too seriously. I would not talk anyone out of going to see Rival sons live. In fact if you didn’t catch them they are touring again next April. Go and make up your own mind.