Review and photos by Rich Ward
Entering the Rescue Rooms at a little after 8 o’clock, the room was already heaving and second support band Raven Eye were in full flow. They seemed familiar, but I couldn’t quite place them as they tore through an impressive few numbers in a style not too dissimilar to Soundgarden. Very active, at times standing on the drum kit and coming off the stage and playing right in the crowd, I soon realised that the singer/guitarist was bluesman Oli Brown – he’s come a long way since I last saw him on tour with Joanne Shaw Taylor and Virgil & The Accelerators. He’s completely in charge and is very much the showman which makes him as enthralling to watch as it does listen to. Drummer Kev Hickman, who some may have seen playing as part of Gwyn Ashton’s 2 Man Army seems a perfect match. The final song sees him come out from behind his kit to encourage the crowd on. Bass player Aaron Spiers completes the trio and keep the whole thing together with a solid groove throughout.
As a band they have just released their debut EP digitally with a physical version to follow. Definitely one band to make a point of catching again as soon as possible.
Blues Pills are one of the most thrilling new bands to experience doing the live circuit at the moment. Their young multi national have been touring heavily off the back of their debut album and have kept the momentum going with a limited live album release. Guitarist Dorrian Sorrieux coaxes some exquisite phrases out of his guitar and is equally adept at dealing out some crushing riffs. The Peter Green influence is obvious and the heavy riffs and brooding rhythm parts dominate his style. He is very much a guitarists guitarist and he’s only too keen to answer when someone shouts out a question about his pickups.
Swedish singer Elin Larson is equally captivating; stalking the stage barefoot, often with tambourine in hand adding additional percussion to fellow Swede André Kvarnström’s solid beat. Her powerful and clear vocals shine throughout from the soulful ‘No Hope Left For Me’ to the heavy blues of ‘Devil Man’ which sees the song start with just her vocals which sends shivers down the spine as the whole room remains silent in awe. A cover of Tony White’s ‘Elements And Things’ and ‘Black Smoke’ are both highlights; the latter benefitting from wonderful dynamics and serves as a fitting way to bring the main set to a close.
For those that have been lucky enough to see than once recently, the setlist will probably have been pretty much the same. I’m looking forward to them getting back into the studio for album number two, but for the time being, I’m more than happy with catching them as they are now up close and in venues like this, as I know that it will only take a bit of luck and I’ll find myself struggling to get tickets at the back of much much bigger venues.
Busy in the festival season, be sure to catch Blues Pills at Download on Friday 12th June, and 26th July at Ramblin’ Man in Maidstone.
1. High Class Woman
2. Ain’t No Change
4. Dig In
5. Time Is Now
7. No Hope Left For Me
8. Devil Man
9. Elements And Things
10. Black Smoke
11. Little Sun