Rival Sons + The Graveltones + Ulysses @ The Institute, Birmingham – Thursday 11th April 2013


Review by Paul Davis and Photos by Mark Lloyd

It’s only been a few short months since Rival Sons appeared at the Wulfrun just after the release of their latest album. Tonight they were back in the Midlands and it was Birmingham that had the pleasure. Support tonight was from Ulysses and The Graveltones.

8642857852_e0b4ea3d4a_nUlysses supported Rival Sons in Wolverhampton back in September so must have made a good impression. ‘Mrs Drawnel’ from their latest album Kill You Again has a retro glam vibe, with similarities to The Darkness, but perhaps a little less OTT. ‘French Japanese’ reveals a more bluesy side to the band. A solid enough set from the Bath based band without really setting the world on fire.

Of the support bands, it was The Graveltones who impressed most, Jimmy O (vocals and guitar) and Mikey Sorbello (drums) are a blues rock duo, both Aussies based in London. You have to love the humour of a rock crowd and the shout of ‘Where’s the rest of the band?’ is perfect. However, the duo manage to make a big enough noise between them and the single ‘I Want Your Love’ is the pick of their excellent set.

It’s always a pleasure to see Rival Sons live, but tonight was something else as they battled against the adversity of Jay Buchanan’s voice problems. The frontman informed the fans during the set that he was unwell but declared that ‘we’ll do this thing together’.

After producing one of the finest albums of 2012, Head Down, it’s no surprise to find The Institute packed out by the time Buchanan, Scott Holiday, Mike Miley and Robin Everhart kick things off with ‘You Want To’.  Although most of the set is taken from the latest album and Pressure & Time, for the long time fans, the psychedelic sounding ‘Memphis Sun’ from the debut album is always a welcome addition.


On the beautiful ‘Jordan’ Buchanan really pushes his voice to the limit, and despite his problems still manages to hit those high notes.  He then precedes ‘Manifest Destiny pt.1’ with a brief history lesson and it’s clearly a subject close to his heart.

Scott Holiday’s guitar sounds incredible  on ‘Keep On Swinging’,  ‘Pressure & Time’ is a huge crowd pleaser and when Jay Buchanan dedicates the tender ballad ‘Face of Light’ to his son back home, it shows that Rival Sons are not the wild rock ‘n’ rollers that some might expect. As the band leave the stage, drummer  Miley is back on almost immediately for the encore and his drum solo leads into ‘Burn Down Los Angeles’.  ‘Soul’ ends the night with more stunning vocals and Holiday also taking centre stage once more.

There’s good gigs and there’s nights like this that are a bit special. It had it all, Rival Sons delivering their blend of rock ‘n’ soul with emotion and triumph over adversity. In the words of their frontman, band and audience ‘did this thing together’.


See more of Mark’s photos of the show here;