Review by Paul Davis, photos by Rich Ward
Ozzy Osbourne, Henry Rollins, Glenn Hughes, Jimmy Page, Scott Ian, Rich Robinson, Slash and Myles Kennedy. What do they have in common? Well, they have all been heaping praise on Rival Sons in recent times. Tonight, the band from Long Beach, California played a sold out show here at the Wulfrun. It’s not the first time they’ve packed out this venue, but tickets for tonight had sold out well in advance, helped along by a high profile appearance on Later… With Jools Holland.
Blues Pills have been supporting Rival Sons on this run and they are a very good fit indeed, fresh from their own headlining tour and being one of the outstanding acts at Hard Rock Hell. Elin Larsson on vocals commands a lot of attention but Dorian Sorriaux on guitar looks and sounds like a major new talent as well.
The blues rockers open with the impressive ‘High Class Woman’, but highlight of their all too short set is ‘Devil Man’, giving Elin’s powerful voice time to shine before the rest of the band kick in. Their influences are a mix of Zeppelin, Hendrix and Cream but most of all there’s a Fleetwood Mac (of the Peter Green variety) feel to their songs. With a little more stage presence and if Nuclear Blast back them the way Earache have got behind Rival Sons, then Blues Pills could be replicating the success of tonight’s headliners in the next few years.
After the intro of ‘The Good, The Bad And the Ugly’, guitarist Scott Holiday leads the rest of Rival Sons onto the stage and into a surprising, but welcome opener. It’s ‘All Over The Road’ that kicks things off to the delight of the crowd. It is in fact the first of a double helping from breakthrough album Pressure And Time, with the title track following.
Scott Holiday delivers the intro to ‘Electric Man’ and the focus switches to the latest album Great Western Valkyrie. ‘Good Luck’ with its defiant lyrics is followed by the groove of ‘Secret’ and somewhere in the background Todd Ogren-Brooks on keyboards brings a little something extra to the sound of Rival Sons.
‘Good Things’ is perhaps one of the finest moments of their career to date and there are a few screams of approval. Jay Buchanan is at his soulful best while drummer Mike Miley shows his talents even on the more subtle moments. ‘Manifest Destiny Pt.1’ is where we really get to admire the work of Scott Holiday; a stunning display.
Old favourite ‘Torture’ gets the crowd involved and the way that Rival Sons have mixed up the setlist for this tour is a testament to their ever growing songbook. The quality of the songs that are left out tells its own story.
The mix of old and new continues, ‘Where I’ve Been’ is a wonderful ballad from Great Western Valkyrie while the psychedelic sound of ‘Memphis Sun’ is a huge favourite with their oldest fans. After an electrifying main set, the band return with ‘Open My Eyes’ followed by the always beautiful ‘Face Of Light’, again dedicated by Jay to his son back home. ‘Keep On Swinging’ brings the night to a close and Rival Sons keep on keeping on, prolific in recording and touring relentlessly. See you next door in the Civic in 2015?