Rival Sons @ 02 Academy 2, Birmingham – Tuesday 10th June 2014


Review by Paul Davis, Photos by Alexx Peace

When it’s the day after the release of your new album, opening your show with five songs from that album might be seen as bold. Tonight, however, Rival Sons show their belief in their new material is justified.

Close to show time and there’s an air of expectation. After the intro music and a few chants from the crowd, they open with ‘Electric Man’. ‘Good Luck’, ‘Secret’ and ‘Play the Fool’ follow. The keyboards add another dimension to the Rival Sons sound and this opening run of songs from The Great Western Valkyrie ends with ‘Good Things’. Something Rival Sons have in abundance is soul, and this song is Rival Sons at their most soulful

Rival Sons
Rival Sons

There’s been a change in personnel since Rival Sons last came to our country, bassist Robin Everhart deciding that life on the road wasn’t for him. In came Dave Beste, someone the band knew well and as Jay Buchanan says, ‘he fits like a fucking glove’.

After a couple of old fan favourites ‘Torture’ and ‘Gypsy Heart’ comes one of Jay’s favourites from Head Down. ‘Jordan’ is as beautiful as ever, a song that deals with loss of a loved one. It’s a little odd that following one of the more laid back moments in the set, Buchanan sees a bit of aggression in the audience and takes a moment to calms things down. Maybe it’s the heat.

‘Rich and the Poor’ has some of the storytelling qualities that we’ve heard before in the Rival Sons catalogue. When the band end the main set with ‘Open My Eyes’, it’s already familiar with most fans, one of the songs that the band shared via social media before the release of The Great Western Valkyrie.

Rival Sons
Rival Sons

After a short break, Scott Holiday returns to the stage first, fitting as ‘Manifest Destiny pt.1’ is perhaps his finest moment with some exquisite playing from the magnificently mustachioed guitarist. Those shouting for ‘Pressure and Time’ get their wish before ‘Keep on Swinging’ swings as you might expect.

Finally, ‘Face of Light’ has as much emotion as ‘Jordan’ had earlier, with Jay Buchanan talking about missing his son while he’s out on tour. The band take a bow and the songs that have been squeezed out of the set show how far Rival Sons have come. No room tonight for ‘You Want To’ or ‘Burn Down Los Angeles’ tonight, such an impressive body of work they now have. These shows may have been the last chance to see Rival Sons up close and personal, get those tickets for the winter tour while you can.

 See more of Alexx’s photos here