Review by Paul Davis, Photos by Russ Powney
Tell someone you’re going to a Brad show and you may get a blank look, but for those packed into the Academy 2 tonight, it’s been a 20 year wait for this night to happen. But before the Seattle legends take to the stage, it’s up to New Killer Shoes to entertain the crowd.
The local boys, Redditch based, had impressed on the previous night in Manchester and in front of a home crowd they didn’t disappoint. Their influences are many, from punk to metal to grunge along with a generous helping of ska. New single ‘Snakecharmer’ is ridiculously catchy and hopefully a taster of what’s to come when the debut album I Ain’t Even Lyin’ is released in April. They end their set on a high with ‘Love Rocket’, some awesome playing from guitarist Ben Smith bringing it to a close.
As Brad arrive on stage and open with ‘Buttercup’ from their 1993 debut album Shame, the crowd reaction is an indicator of how highly anticipated this show is. As well as the incredible talent of Shawn Smith on vocals and Gossard on guitar, Brad also features Smith’s Satchel bandmate Regan Hagar on drums and Keith Lowe on bass guitar. Joining them in the touring band is Happy Chichester (Afghan Whigs, Twilight Singers) on guitar and keyboards.
There may be a Pearl Jam legend up on the stage but it is the voice of Shawn Smith that truly amazes tonight, soulful with a big Prince influence but equally adept on the grungier moments like ‘Secret Girl’ from the second Brad album Interiors. The set leans heavily on the debut album, and rightly so, the UK and Europe has waited a long time to hear those songs performed live. Stone Gossard switches from guitar to bongos on the funky 20th Century, a minor hit for the band back in the day.
As if it’s not enough to finally have this band gracing our shores, tonight we get to hear a brand new Stone Gossard song, with Shawn Smith leaving the stage briefly for the guitarist to take lead vocals. The song is called ‘Desenfado’, not sure what release this is intended for, but it sounds more Pearl Jam than Brad.
Brad do have a new album out called United We Stand, released only two years after Best Friends and the title perhaps signifies a renewed commitment to the band and that this is more than just a side project. ‘Miles Of Rope’ and the more rocking ‘Diamond Blues’ are among the songs featured from the latest album tonight.
Shawn Smith returns alone for the first part of the encore, and for three songs it’s just his voice and piano and includes another spine- tingling moment with his cover of the classic Mother Love Bone song ‘Crown of Thorns’. When the rest of the band returns, they close out with a couple from Interiors, ‘The Day Brings’ and ‘Lift’ a cover of the Stones ‘Jumpin’ Jack Flash before surprisingly ending with a reprise of ‘Buttercup’. So, more than worth the wait, let’s hope that Brad returns to the UK soon.
And you can see more shots from the show here or by clicking play below: