Encore s’il vous plaît……
Review by Andrew Manning and photos by Rich Ward
There is no doubting that the spectacle of an arena size gig with all of the accompanying lighting effects and pyrotechnics can leave us feeling on a high and totally invigorated. However every once in a while it is the spine tingling moments of the intimate gigs that really can leave a mark and this is exactly what happened when the Laura Cox Band made a visit to Pershore on their first ever UK tour.
The band hail from France and released their debut album ‘Hard Blues Shot’ in 2017. However Laura Cox has already forged a very high profile for herself prior to this through her YouTube guitar playing videos where she has become a worldwide internet starlet with one of her clips having been viewed in excess of 12 million times. So it is no surprise to see that she is now starting to push on to capitalise on this interest by hitting the road at grass roots level to see how things go on the live front.
Within minutes of the start the band’s expansive blues rock sound drew the audience in with some real classic rock offerings with a nice touch of commerciality as showcased on the album’s title track, ‘Going Down’, ‘Too Nice For Rock ‘N’ Roll’ and ‘Take Me Back Home’. Start thinking of AC/DC, Blackberry Smoke and ZZ Top to get a sense of direction the music was taking us on a Friday night in Worcestershire. There was a delicious mix of country, blues, hard rock and southern boogie emanating from the stage with a perfect sound reverberating around the venue. The band were as tight as they come and looked to be enjoying the experience as much as the audience. Although Laura Cox is clearly the focal point everyone was having the opportunity to showcase their musical talents. The young and talented Mathieu Albiac (guitar) was allowed plenty of space to take his share of the spotlight as he pealed of a number of scintillating guitar solos. The rhythm section of François C. Delacoudre (bass) and Antonin Guérin (drums) provided the pistons in the engine room with the former delivering a real juggernaut of a solo midway through the set in a Billy Sheehan (Mr Big) style.
With the set primarily focused on self penned numbers there were a number of cover versions interspersed throughout the evening with offerings from Jimi Hendrix and The Rolling Stones which were given the bands own interpretations. Several new unreleased numbers including ‘Fire Fire’ and ‘River’ showing what the future may hold were delivered and if this is the kind of currency that they continue trading in then the markets will definitely be on the rise.
The real star of the evening was Laura Cox who has certainly completed her apprenticeship and is now ready to move onto the next level. Technically her guitar playing was on the mark and her style of old school rock has a place in the market when delivered at this level. She has the charisma to take centre stage with her strong energetic vocal performance and even enjoyed a brief trip into the audience to rock out with the punters. Pure headbanging joy for all present. Her influences are varied and there were moments when a female Slash could be heard on stage wringing out the notes. Tonight showed how recorded material can be made to sound so much better in the live environment and the homage to AC/DC ‘The Australian Way’ had this in spades.
The encores encapsulated their take on classic and southern rock in its purest form ranging from the electric banjo style number ‘Barefoot in the Countryside’ to the rousing rocker ‘If You Wanna Get Loud (Come to the Show)’. A perfect finale to a wonderful evening with the music doing the talking.
It is refreshing to see that the future of good old classic rock is in some young safe hands and with greater exposure this band will hopefully start to see some greater commercial success. Maybe the gathered few tonight will one day be able to reflect back and say we were there at the start. Let’s hope a further UK trip is already being planned for 2019!
Earlier in the evening, rising Sheffield based blues rockers The Black Hands delivered an accomplished set that harked back to the golden era of British Blues Rock. Think back to Robin Trower, Free and Humble Pie and you could hear elements of all of those influences during their set. A raucous cover of Willie Dixon’s ‘Spoonful’ also gives a pretty good idea of where the four piece are coming from. Guitarist Daniel Riley played with a very pleasing tone that brought to mind Trapeze’s Mel Galley mixing raw riffs with blistering solos with a laid back approach making it all look far too easy. With their equipment squeezed on stage in front of the headline act’s, it may have constrained their performance a little, but it didn’t diminish the effort they put in, and they made a good impression on the Pershore crowd.
With a new single ‘You Gotta Move’ out next week and an album in the works The Black Hands are definitely to be added to the ‘ones to watch’ list in the new year.