Distributor/label: Nuclear Blast
Distributor/label URL: http://www.nuclearblast.de/en/
Buy Album [URL]: http://www.nuclearblast.de/en/shop/artikel/gruppen/51000.1.html?article_group_sort_type_handle=rank&custom_keywords=blue+pills+lady+in+gold+live
Band Website: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blues_Pills
Band Line Up:
Elin Larsson – vocals
Dorian Sorriaux – guitars
Zach Anderson – bass guitar
André Kvarnström – drums, percussion
Additional live musician
Rickard Nygren – guitar & Hammond Organ
1 Lady In Gold
2 Little Boy Preacher
3 Bad Talkers
4 Won’t Go Back
5 Black Smoke
7 Little Sun
8 Elements And Things
9 You Gotta Try
10 High Class Woman
11 Ain’t No Change
12 Devil Man
13 I Felt a Change
15 Gone So Long
Firstly, some advice, do not google ‘Blue Pills’. What comes up is something very different from the band, who have just released a live version of their second album ‘Lady In Gold’. Formed in 2011 in Örebro Sweden, the band’s original conception came from a meeting of half-brothers Cory Berry (Drums) and Zack Anderson (Bass). This was along with Elin Larrson on vocals. Previously, and whilst in California, Cory & Zack were part of American Rock band Radio Moscow. With BP, they later picked up guitarist Dorian Sorriaux while touring France & Spain, and he was just 16 when they invited him to join them in Sweden. The band name refers to their friend Jens Heide’s music blog, BluesPillz which focuses on obscure 60’s & 70’s bands, the type of music that obviously influences the musical style they have adopted – psychedelic soul blues rock.
Crusher Records picked the band up after hearing two demos online, but the band hit the big time when Nuclear Blast took them on, and released the eponymous debut album in 2014. They followed this with 2016’s ‘Lady in Gold’. This live album, offered as a two CD set, takes in some of the fan favourites from both albums, as the group played live in Paris.
Opener, ‘Lady In Gold’ is the title track and the audience is certainly excited from the off because of it. The vocals of Larsson are impressive and in the style of classic female rock from the 70’s/80’s, akin to Doro, Girlschool and The Runaways. The song is also very much of that era. It is a pity that the sound quality distorts the guitar, making it harder to appreciate the musicianship. Moving on to the second track, ‘Little Boy Preacher’ is bluesy and ballsy. However, the vocals seem too hurried at times, and the mood is reminiscent of The Doors ‘Riders on The Storm’ in the instrumental sections. ‘Bad Talkers’ continues in the same vein; this is music to be listened to in some darkened underground club with a scotch and some good friends. It’s quite heavy in places.
With some attitude and sass, ‘Won’t Go Back’ is a defiant song that celebrates breaking free from a bad relationship, a song that resonates but sadly does not inspire. Moodier and more soulful, ‘Black Smoke’ has a slower pace which shows off Larsson’s voice far better. She doesn’t need to race to keep up, and this gives her a chance to shine. Her voice is deep, but she struggles again once the tempo picks up. The cacophony of guitars grates on the ears, as the shrillness distorts through the sound and is at times unpleasant and fairly congeneric. A very funky bass start suggests ‘Bliss’ will be something a little edgier than previous tracks. The only track not sung in English, it soon flounders in the same generic, dated wash that swamps the album.
A song that promises a bit of brightness but fades behind the clouds of poor sound quality, ‘Little Sun’ struggles again with the weight of the drums. This is in what is probably a fairly average sized club, but then this type of music would not necessarily suit an arena or bigger stage. ‘Elements And Things’ is a cover originally by Tony Joe White, who was most known for hits ‘Rainy Night in Georgia’ and ‘Steamy Windows’ as well as his work with Tom Jones, Elvis and Tina Turner. This is not a song that I recognised, so I am unable to compare it with the original, but here it is heavy, dense and dramatic but also trapped in another time zone. ‘You Gotta Try’ has a higher pitch to the vocal range; it deals with money being the thing that controls the world. However, it fails to be anything more than bland and certainly does not raise any passion against ‘the man’. The crowd are pleased with the introduction to ‘High Class Woman’, which belongs back in the decade of flares and hippies. It then flows straight into ‘Ain’t No Change’, with an overlong intro. At times the guitar work teeters over into tedium, and the clapping tries to rescue it. Despite this, the result is a song that disappoints, though it did reach the few that attended. Maybe the stage show made up for the lack of originality.
Enticing the audience to join in the singing, A capella style, the band introduces a song from the debut album, ‘Devil Man’. It seems to be a fan favourite despite its repetitiveness and lack of any finesse, and they sing along with a dedication that befits a band who have far more age & experience. ‘I Felt a Change’ features a piano as the only instrumentation, and is a refreshing break from the similarity of the other songs, a simple ballad that delights the crowd. Following a rawcus interval that denotes the start of the encore, ‘Rejection’ commences with an introduction to the band members. When it gets going it has at least jumped forward to the 80’s in style. Finally, ‘Gone So Long’ descends into a dreary, monotonous dirge, bringing the album and the concert to a close, at which point I think I would be asking for a refund. However, the French seemed to like it.
As is often the case with live albums, the sound is muddy; it’s not polished and well produced, but very raw. This album certainly captures the thrill of the audience and the energy and passion of the band, however it is more of a fan’s album than a way to win new admirers. The fans should be very happy with this though, and it certainly sounds like they had a great night out when this was recorded. It’s just a shame the sound quality is not as clear as it could be. They are also a very old sounding band for such a young group and whilst that has an appeal to many, they need to add something of a twist to their music to make it still current and relevant to today. It did nothing for me, but the people who attended obviously enjoyed the show.