Review by Peter Keevil, photos by Tosh Davies
There aren’t half some decent blues rock bands churning out some awesome retro-rock at present. Graveyard, Zodiac, Rival Sons, The Temperance Movement are all making a serious noise. But even within the rejuvenated blues rock scene there can be clearly defined energies balancing out the ying and yang. On record, the Blues Pills and Scorpion Child sit happily together in my genre playlists, close cousins re-hashing the glories of rock’s yesteryear for a new younger audience – while keeping us old ‘uns gleefully entertained reliving former glories.
On stage however, their geographic heritage clearly separates them. Chalk and cheese comes to mind, or perhaps more aptly oral and full sex – both wonderful and part of the same experience but delightfully different.
Openers Blues Pills are a Scandinavian/French/American hybrid, fronted by the huge vocal talents of Elin Larsson, a naturally sexy, demure front-woman, she is the Scandinavian in this quartet. Her smiling nature belies the passionate torture behind her vocal delivery and is a joy to behold.
While the American rhythm section of Zack Anderson and Cory Berry are no innocent bystanders, it is stage left where eyes are transfixed as French 18-year old guitarist Dorian Sorriaux subliminally hypnotises the audience with a delicate display of guitar dexterity. He is a waif of a boy/man, wiry haired, wearing a Nordic style jumper his fingers nimbly dancing over a Flying V with little emotion playing on his face. It’s an understated, elegant performance, making the most gracious blues guitar rock n roll you’ll ever hear from across the Channel.
Their seven song set drew from their two recent EPs 2012’s ‘Bliss’ and this year’s excellent ‘Devil Man’. Highlights being the said ‘Devil Man’ with its electric opening vocal refrain but also ‘Little Sun’. Perhaps it’s their international foundation that makes them tour outside their ‘home’ country of Sweden so early in their careers but we are all the richer for it and I can’t wait for their debut album.
Just as Blues Pills caressed you with their laid-back feather-light approach, the rambunctious 5-piece from Austin Texas known as Scorpion Child were the complete opposite. If ever there was a stereotype in Texan steers, oil and testosterone machismo Scorpion Child were it. Bold, brash and in your face, it took the lulled Nuneaton crowd a second or two to come out of their daze.
Scorpion Child didn’t seem to care, they were here to Rock with a capital R, whether we were or not. This was ‘MAN-Rock’ for MEN. I’m surprised the tour wasn’t sponsored by Yorkie or Money Supermarket wanting us to feel EPIC!
But EPIC we did feel as the Scorps rode over our arses Texan style, leaving us well and truly branded. The music is not without its subtlety on record but in a live arena they weren’t in the mood to cajole us, to sweet talk us, no siree, this was frantic teenage-fumbling-in-the-backseat-hoping-you-get-it-in-the-right-hole, desperate sex.
Like Blues Pills they are signed to Nuclear Blast in Europe and big kudos to them for bringing them to the UK and working their big-cowboy-spurred magic.
Rolling in on the back of a fine self-titled debut Scorpion Child played the whole album, on tweeking the running order slightly. This was a clever move as it brought familiarity to a set from a band that was headlining in the UK for the first time.
Killer moments? ‘Polygon Of Eyes’, the delightful ‘Antioch’ and the swagger of ‘The Secret Spot’.
I for one am loving this ‘revival of the revivalists’ and long may they draw upon the rock greats while carrying that flame and lighting the path forwards.
1. Kings Highway
2. Polygon Of Eyes
3. The Secret Spot
5. Salvation Slave
7. In The Arms of Ecstasy
8. Keep Goin
10. Red Blood (The River Flows)
12. My Woman In Black